Chance to Dream

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Miranda Evarts remembers lying in her bed on a March night two years ago, unable to sleep. So she let her mind wander and found herself thinking about queens--not the fancy queens of real life, but silly queens that live only in the imagination of a 6-year-old.

The Starfish Queen, the Rose Queen, the Pancake Queen.

As Miranda lay there thinking, she realized that her queens had a problem. They were sleeping and needed to be awakened.

Miranda bolted out of bed and ran into her parents' room. "I made up a game," she announced.

Her parents tucked her back into bed and she finally did fall asleep. But a dream and Sleeping Queens had been born.

Starting this month, kids all over the country can play Miranda's game because Gamewright, a Massachusetts company, has made Sleeping Queens its first kid-invented game.

But before Sleeping Queens got sent to the game company, it was an Evarts family project. Miranda's earliest version had four sleeping queens that needed to be awakened by kings. The family -- including mom Denise, older sister Madeleine and dad Max -- first tried to play by drawing over the characters on a regular deck of cards. They soon found they needed more than four queens. So Miranda, Madeleine and Mom came up with the Peacock Queen, the Cake Queen and the Sunflower Queen.

But Miranda's idea involved more than sleeping queens and silly kings (the Bubblegum, Turtle and Chess kings, for instance) who wake them up. She came up with other cards that can put queens to sleep or let players steal them from one another.

"We played it and played it and kept changing it," Denise Evarts said. The girls are homeschooled and so they had lots of other homeschooled friends play the game, too."

"We all worked on it. My mom and my sister and my dad helped a lot, too," Miranda said. (Little brother Stephen, now 2 1/2, was too young to take part.)

Finally, Denise Evarts e-mailed Gamewright with Miranda's idea. "I wanted to show the kids what you could do if you had a good idea and followed through on it," Evarts said.

Jason Schneider, who is in charge of picking new games for the company, liked the idea right away. "The Pancake Queen sold it to me. It spoke to my stomach as well as my heart," he said.

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