by Karen Procopio
Boys don’t like girls who are too smart. That’s all 15-year old Megan Thompson has heard since she decided to enter the Stockwell Computer Engineering Competition. PRINCESS GEEK is the story of a super-competitive, computer-savvy girl who must decide which is more important: winning the competition and a prestigious summer internship or putting on the ditz and glitz to win the attention and affections of hottie Michael Alexander, who also happens to be the competition. Will Megan roll up her lab coat sleeves and fight to win the internship or hide her intelligence for romance and a prom date with Michael?
As a computer science teacher, I wrote this story after observing a disconcerting phenomenon with my female students. In 5th grade, they arrive inquisitive and fearless. By seventh grade, they’ve morphed into ditzy girls who hide their intelligence for the boys’ attention.
Unique to this story is the subtle, embedded storyline through which the reader learns about computer technology, i.e. when Megan prepares for the computer competition, she troubleshoots computer systems, replaces components and programs code. The reader will learn the same concepts as Megan, thus empowering him/her to troubleshoot his/her own system after the book has been read.
Arielle: I think this is a story that teachers, librarians, parents and even girls will love! And I’m convinced you’re the person to tell it based on your credentials. But to get all these people to really get excited, I’d like more information about her entry into the competition. In fact, I’d put the third paragraph second and don’t take it out of the story. Keep it in the story and take out “unique to this story”. Show don’t tell.
David: There’s so much pressure on girls to dumb themselves down. That’s just one of the reasons I like this story. It’s good to have a book that girls can read which puts a 15-year-old female in the position of having to choose between being smart and being popular. I also like that there’s a learning element, in terms of computers. I think you have to be very careful that it blends nicely into the narrative, and doesn’t stop the story dead. And I like the way you use language, for example, putting the words “ditz and glitz” together. Plus, I like that you give us your background so we know there’s an authenticity, because you’ve been there, done that seen it and lived it. But I would like to know more about her relationship and potential romance with Michael. That feels very underdeveloped to me. There’s a great beginning, but not so much of a middle or an ending.