Thursday, July 17, 2008

#19 SECRET AGENT Are You Hooked?

TITLE: Tobias Newt Tilton - First Campout
GENRE: Early Chapter Book

Chapter 1

This is me. Tobias Newt Tilton. I was named after my mother’s grandfather. I wonder if he ever wanted to be called something different. Well, at least it has good initials. T.N.T.

That means dynamite.

Last year, in first grade, I tried to get people to call me dynamite instead of just Toby. It didn’t work. They said it didn’t quite fit. Whatever that means. My teacher wouldn’t call me dynamite. My best friend, Allen, didn’t want to but he did it anyway. For a few days. My older brother Gage didn’t stop laughing for two days when I asked him.

“Dynamite? You want to be called Dynamite? Even when you have gas, you aren’t explosive. How about I call you Mighty Mite instead?”

I just don’t get it. I think that dynamite fits me just fine. I can be explosive. If I want to be.
Even though everybody still calls me Toby and not dynamite, it’s still my favorite word. I sometimes yell it out when somethin good happens.

Chapter 2

This is me at Cub Scouts. My mom signed me up during the summer. This was our first pack meeting of the fall.

“Wolves. Listen up,” Scout Leader Wayne told us. “This is important.”

I listen real hard because I’m a Wolf. You’re a Wolf when you start second grade. You’re a Tiger when you’re in first grade. I just started second grade so I’m a Wolf.


  1. Okay, I think this one has a nice, kid-friendly voice, and voice, as we all know, is one of those things that's hard to do. So good on that.

    I think you could strengthen the hook part, however, by starting with some action, and feeding in the explanations as you go. Drop us right into the action and you'll be set to go!

  2. Yes, I'm hooked. I get a sense of the character's voice - and it's cute! :0)

  3. Ahh... it has Scouts in it! I love the scouts. And I like your voice. I'd keep reading this. :o)

  4. Yes. This is cute and funny. But I think it could be tightened a bit. For example, you could tightened the part about the Wolf and second grade. It's mentioned twice.

    I like the way it starts, but it would be nice to have the action or a hook by the end. I like the writing style and the humor. I think this works well for an early chapter book.

    I'm not sure a seven-year-old would say, "I can be explosive." Maybe powerful, exciting, strong. But I'm no expert, so see what others say.

    Good job!

  5. The voice was cute, and I enjoyed the first chapter. The second didn't feel as cute or humorous to me though. I'd like to know more about the story up front, though. So far all I know is his name is Toby and he's a Scout. Some indication of how dynamite or the Scouts play into the story would be nice, though I don't know about how set-up works in this genre so that's just my opinion.

  6. Yes - very cute, had me laughing out loud. Would read more!

  7. Yes, it's so cute and I love the T.N.T remark! I don't know much about this age range but I like it and would read on. Toby is cute and engaging to me. :)

    Good luck,


  8. I felt like the voice was a little inconsistent. Great on "Even though everybody still calls me Toby and not dynamite, it’s still my favorite word. I sometimes yell it out when somethin good happens." Not great for me on It didn’t work. They said it didn’t quite fit. Whatever that means. My teacher wouldn’t call me dynamite. When you only have this many words you really have to have every one perfect. Overall I do think I would keep going because "I listen real hard because I’m a Wolf." is utterly charming. So it's a caveat'ed yes for me.

  9. Speaking as a Mother, I would say YES.

    This is something that sounds cute that I could read to my youngest children (6 & 8).

    :) Terri

  10. Cute! I wouldn't read this alone for entertainment, but I'd read it to my children. The voice is engaging and adorable. It needs some tightening in a couple of places -- whenever Toby starts repeating his statements three and four times, I think less would hook better. Other than that nitpick, I give it a thumbs up.

  11. Probably no. The voice is strong in the first part, but not nearly as prevalent in the second. Even though it's an early reader book, there still needs to be some conflict for the character to sort through.

  12. I'd like to see you start by talking about this campout. His excitement, is he there, is he planning for it. We can go into how his initials are the antithesis of his personality during story valleys. (It's cute and well done, it just doesn't belong here.) Start with the action.

  13. I like the character, but I'm not sure I'm hooked. I think the first person narrative is difficult for early readers. Generally, they are third person. Also, you don't have a lot of words to play with so you need to get to the point early. What is his problem?

  14. I'm not personally hooked, but if I were younger I might be. I'd take out "Whatever that means." Feels sort of like a teenage attitude (forgive the stereotyping) not a little kid one.

  15. There were a few places, like the repeated info near the end I thought could be cleaned up, but overall a nice strong start and I love the TNT thing. I'd keep reading.

  16. Yes.

    There's a hitch here and there. I feel like every word needs to be perfect to get this voice right. But overall, it's cute and intruiging.

    Plus, it mentioned a wolf, how can you go wrong with wulfies?

  17. I liked the opening, it was a little like a Junie B. Jones story, but for boys. ,

  18. I'm

    I think you could trim and edit a little with this. Like the last paragraph in the first chapter ought to be cut, because it end the chapter on a flat note.

    Then the second chapter seemed to steer us off in a different direction instead of continuing the TNT thing.

  19. Not hooked.

    I'm unfamiliar with the genre, so the kid voice/dialogue was strange to me.

  20. Hooked? A bit.

    I was wondering about the opening lines of each chapter... Is there a picture that goes with them?

    The line "I listen real hard..." felt like a tense shift to me. It can be read two ways 1) You are telling us that you listen hard in a general sort of way, or 2) you are giving us a blow-by-blow description of what is happening, in which case it is a tense shift.

    Also when I was in cub scouts we had bobcat, bear and wolf. Is the tiger a new thing? or one of your invention?

    Overall I think this has potential to be a fun read.

  21. Yes. There are a few voice issues, but overall, it's cute and I like :)