Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Saran ShantikumarCLARA’S LAB BOOKCarolyn WardCBSTEM adventure; humour14000

CLARA’S LAB BOOK is a STEM-based humorous chapter book; complete at 14k words with huge series potential. 

When the school bully and other children catch a mysterious illness, 9-year-old paintballer and imminent scientist Clara decides to investigate. Facing wilful misdirection, unforeseen treachery and conifer-lined combat, can she discover where “the sickness” is coming from before the whole school is infected?

I am a doctor and lecturer in public health, and in my spare time coach a youth football team, am a school governor and run a free community “Geek Club” for local gifted and talented children. This is my first chapter book, having previously focused on non-fiction titles (a series of medical student textbooks and scientific research papers).

I am passionate about inspiring children in all areas of STEM, and have plotted further adventures for Clara in areas of public health and environmental science.


Chapter 1.


Watching the red liquid spread over the soldier’s chest, Clara knew she had hit her target. 

Three down, three to go. 

She wiped the sweat from her forehead and ducked behind a tree stump that was sticking out from the floor of conkers and dry twigs. The blasts of gunfire were deafening. They were looking for her, and she didn’t exactly choose the best place to hide. At least here in the forest there was plenty of shelter.

Click-click. Clara cocked her weapon, ready to fire. Crack. A twig snapping to her left, she glanced towards the sound. There stood a soldier slyly grinning at her, rifle raised triumphantly. Before he could pull the trigger, Clara pressed her own gun to her body, rolled to the right, and fired a quick shot. The soldier let out a yelp as the bullet smacked his shoulder. Clara jumped to her feet and bolted, not even turning to watch his body collapse to the ground. 

Four down, two to go. 

The people versus Clara. One weapon each. Everyone out to get her. This wasn’t the first time she had been in this position. In fact, she quite enjoyed the challenge. The opportunity to be a hero. No second chances. She lunged behind the trunk of a large oak tree.

“Claaaa-raaaa! Where are you?” 

She recognised that voice. Barry. Barry the Bully. Barry, who spent his days picking up kids’ lunches, picking on the small kids, and picking his big nose. Barry, who would happily shoot Clara in the neck and prance off to celebrate with chocolate ice cream. 

Barry would be Clara’s next victim. 

I’m good at this. This is my thing, Clara reminded herself. Her lungs heaving with worry and fear, she waited behind the oak trying to not make a sound. It was hard to stay silent when you were fighting for breath, but she knew that if Barry heard even a peep he’d be on to her. 

“I know you’re there, Clara,” Barry declared. “You can’t hide from us. Just give up. Get rid of that pathetic red gun-toy of yours and surrender. I’ll do you a favour and make it quick.”

As if. 

Most of Barry’s soldiers had been eliminated – Clara had seen to that. His hand-picked good-for-nothing team had so far been unable to have a decent shot at her, let alone catch her. They may as well have had water pistols for weapons rather than rifles. Clara held her breath as the soft crunch of Barry’s footsteps approached. She knew she had to make a move and make it quickly. Leaning against the tree she felt something firm in her back pocket. Spare ammunition. Grabbing a handful of the rounded bullets, she catapulted them over her shoulder. Hopefully they would distract Barry, giving Clara an opportunity to escape. 

Listening for the sound of movement, Clara could only hear her own breathing and the rapid thump of her heartbeat.