Book Blast & Giveaway! The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee by Deborah Abela

The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee
by Deborah Abela
Publication: April 3rd 2018
by Sourcebooks
Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Contemporary, Family, Friendship

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A heartwarming story about a girl who’s afraid to follow her dreams, and the family who help make them happen.

India Wimple can spell. Brilliantly. Every Friday night, she and her family watch the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee on TV. When the Wimples suggest she enter the next Bee, India feels nothing but trepidation. She’s sure she’s not good enough – but with the support of her family, India finds the courage to sign up.

There are plenty of obstacles to reaching the finals, like Summer Millicent Ernestine Beauregard-Champion, a spoiled rich girl who isn’t afraid to step on anyone who gets in her way of winning.

The whole thing seems rather calamitous to India. But with hope, hard work, and a little bit of heart, something splendiferous might be on the horizon…

~Excerpt~

Tremulous

(adjective):

Nervous, timid, a little frightened.
The girl felt very tremulous about the challenging task ahead.
India Wimple could spell. Brilliantly. On Friday nights, she and her family would huddle in front of the TV in their pajamas, in their small house in Yungabilla, and watch the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee.
India adored her family—it was the thing that mattered most to her. There was her younger brother, Boo; Mom; Dad; and Nanna Flo.
Nanna Flo hadn’t always lived with them. She’d moved in after she fell and broke her wrist during an especially enthusiastic yoga move. She wasn’t happy about leaving the home where she’d lived with Grandpop for over forty years. She made kind of a fuss, mostly by stomping around and saying “Fiddlesticks!” a lot, which was as close to swearing as Nanna Flo ever got. But she soon realized she was much happier surrounded by her family, and the stomping and almost swearing stopped.
One particular Friday night, where our story begins, the Wimples huddled in front of the TV, as they usually did. But this night was different. It was the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee Grand Final and, as it happened, it was also the day the Wimples’ lives would change forever.
Boo stretched out on the floor with his chin cupped in his hands, while Mom, Dad, Nanna Flo, and India sat snugly on the sofa. Ernie rested at their feet.
Mom, Dad, and Nanna Flo were people. Ernie was a large statue of a bulldog that Nanna Flo insisted on taking with her everywhere, much to her family’s embarrassment. Not only was Ernie remarkably heavy, but he was also incredibly ugly and had the unfortunate habit of scaring young children.
On the TV was a tiny, barely there girl with bouncy, black curls, whose mouth was wide open, as if she’d just had a very big shock. Her name was Katerina. After months of spelling bee heats held all around the country, there were only two spellers left. Katerina was one of them, and her mouth was wide open because her opponent had misspelled his last word. He moved aside with a shake of his head and Katerina stepped up to the microphone.
She looked so small standing on the main stage of the Concert Hall at Sydney Opera House. Dwarfed by its huge, arched ceilings, she took a deep breath, looking more like a girl about to fall off a mountain—a very high mountain—than someone who was simply going to spell.
Her body quivered. Her curls shook. It was indeed a tremulous moment.
The camera cut to her parents sitting in the front row. Her dad gave her a thumbs-up and her mother raised crossed fingers.
This seemed to make Katerina relax. A little.
But then she looked like she was on top of that mountain again.
Not far from her, sparkling in the stage lights, was the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee trophy. If she spelled the next word correctly, she would be the new champion and the trophy would be hers.
The Concert Hall fell deathly silent as the pronouncer, Philomena Spright, prepared to reveal the next word. Philomena had been the official pronouncer longer than India had been alive. Philomena’s hair sat perched on her head in a perfect soft-serve-ice-cream swirl. She always wore very glamorous dresses and heels so high that India worried she might trip over them one day.
But she never did.
Philomena Spright held a small card with her bright-red fingernails in front of her equally bright-red lips.
On the card was written, quite possibly, the final word of the competition.
Very carefully, Philomena pronounced, “Tremulous, an adjective meaning nervous, timid, or a little frightened. Using it in a sentence, I could say, The girl felt tremulous at facing the next word of the spelling bee grand final.”
The audience quietly chuckled before settling into an anxious silence.
Katerina took a few seconds to think.
In the Wimple family home, far, far away, India whispered the spelling of the word without hesitation.
“That’s the right answer, isn’t it?” Boo asked.
India’s auburn ponytail swung as she nodded. “I’m sure of it.”
Katerina crossed both fingers behind her back and began to spell. “Tremulous. T-r-e-m-u-l-o-u-s.” She finished by saying the word with one final, hopeful flourish. “Tremulous?”
Philomena Spright paused for effect, which she always did. It was her way of building suspense, of making the audience and the contestants lean in, eager to hear her verdict. She never revealed the result too early by showing a smile or a frown. She stared at the girl for several excruciatingly long seconds before saying, in her most serious voice, “Katerina, I’m afraid that answer is…correct!”
It was only then that Philomena Spright smiled a broad, victorious smile. “You are the new Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee champion!”
Katerina’s hands flew to her cheeks. The lights flashed, theme music blared, and a shower of confetti sprinkled down from above like a colorful snowfall. The audience was on its feet, cheering and clapping.
“You were right,” Boo whispered to his sister. “As always.”
Philomena Spright handed Katerina the trophy, which was almost too big for her to hold. Her parents rushed onto the stage, crying and hugging their daughter.
When the applause eventually died down, Philomena Spright spoke into the microphone. “Katerina, tell everyone at home how this moment feels.”
Katerina hugged the trophy with both hands and thought for a few seconds before saying, “From the time I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed of winning the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee.” She paused, a small tear forming in the corner of her eye. “And now it’s really happening.”
More tears flowed as Katerina’s mom and dad hugged her tight.
“It most certainly is happening,” Philomena Spright declared. “From thousands of spellers, competing in hundreds of rounds and one riveting grand final, you are our new champion! And now for your prizes.” She took an envelope from the trophy stand. “As always, there is a five-hundred-dollar gift card for Mr. Trinket’s Book Emporium.”
Katerina accepted it with an awestruck “thank you.”
“And that’s not all. We can now reveal your grand prize.”
There was a drum roll.
The Wimple family listened with great anticipation. There was a different grand prize each time. There’d been a family cruise and a trip to the world’s tallest toy store in New York. Once it was a vacation to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
“You know how you like amusement parks?” Philomena Spright asked.
“Yes.” Katerina nodded feverishly.
“You and your family are going to…Disneyland, with five thousand dollars in spending money!”
Katerina squealed. She couldn’t help it—it just came out. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
“You are welcome, welcome, welcome!”
The family fell into hugs and even more joyful tears.
Philomena Spright turned to the camera. “That’s it for another Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee. I’d like to thank all our sensational spellers and our astounding audience. Were you able to spell all the words correctly? Would you like the chance to stand on this very stage? If you think you have what it takes, why not sign up?”

She looked down the barrel of the camera and, for a moment, India Wimple thought the pronouncer was speaking only to her. “Because our next Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee champion could be you!”
Philomena Spright didn’t move for what felt like several minutes, pointing her shiny, red fingernail at India with the smallest of knowing smiles on her lips.

~About the Author~

Deborah Abela is an award-winning author of several books in Australia. She is an ambassador for Room to Read and a Role Model for Books in Homes. Deborah studied communications and worked both as a teacher and the writer/producer of a national kids’ TV show in Australia. She lives in Sydney.

Deborah’s Website | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

~Giveaway~

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Jesus-following wife, homeschooling mom of two girls, author of post-apocalyptic, dark fantasy, and paranormal stories, fan of the Oxford comma, book blogger, yarn obsessed crafter, baker of all the sweets, lover of culinary arts, self-appointed zombie slayer.