Thursday, July 17, 2008

#21 SECRET AGENT Are You Hooked?

Title: Web
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction


Boys, when you think about it, are a lot like frogs. Consider the abundant amount of time boys spend involved with puddles and mud, exactly like a little polliwog. Then there is that faint dampness they both carry about them, as if they have just risen from a swamp. And like all damp, swampish creatures, they share a fascination with bugs. And, what, besides mud and bugs, are both boys and frogs associated with?

Well, warts, of course. They say warts are caused by a virus that lives on damp surfaces, and boy skin and frog skin are equally damp. So then, it is fair to say that while touching a frog or a boy will not definitely result in warts, touching either will not result in anything good.

Not that I would touch a frog or a boy.

Ever.

But as I sit here, watching my cousin Damon pin butterflies to his foam board, I cannot help but think about frogs and warts and bugs and viruses and how they are all connected to creatures like Damon.

“Damon, are you sure those poor butterflies were already - and entirely - dead when you found them?”

“Eh, they were close enough. I think some of them were just really sick. So they were flying kinda slow.” He leans over with his magnifying glass to adjust a wing. His chubby fingers glisten like sausages.

“That wing looks like it is trying to rise from the board,” I point out to him…

41 comments:

Just_Me said...

Lol! I have a cousin just like that. This is definetly something I'd keep reading

jamr said...

Love the prissy, little know-it-all voice of the narrator. Great set-up for what'll probably be her first crush on an, ugh, boy. I'd keep reading too.

Jane Winsale said...

Wow! My favorite so far and I would absolutely keep reading-- this is EXACTLY the kind of book I would have loved in about the fourth or fifth grade, and my (now 7) year old daughter would love to have read aloud. Wish I could continue on this one...

Wordguise said...

I really liked this. Polished, smart, funny. My only nervousness was that some of the language sounded more like an adult, while some sounded more like a kid. "Not that I would touch a frog or a boy. Ever." Sounds perfectly kidlike. "abundant amount of time" sounds more Victorian.

I would absolutely continue reading, and wish the author good luck. But I'd be watching for consistency of tone.

Mel Michaels said...

Love this one. Hands down.

M. Waters said...

Well written, professional, I like the strength of the girl narrator, and I like her voice - she seems smart. Definitely keep reading this one fa sure.

Yunaleska said...

Yes! I never had a brother, but I like the comparisons attributed to boys. I was laughing the entire way through - definitely gets my vote.

Esther Jade said...

I would keep reading. Especially, if I were still the right age for the target audience. The MC has such character and Damon seems horrid, but very real. The first sentence and the one about not touching a frog or a boy were great.

WordGuru said...

WOW! This one stood out for me. Gets my vote ---- boy, frog, butterfly, the girl's unique voice, the instant creepiness of Damon, warts, fingers like sausages. Great for the intended age.

Tatum said...

Yes!

This is a stand out. My only concern is that your MC's voice goes a little beyond believable as far as 'adult' sounding kids go. This can totally work if it's your intention to be over-the-top. If not, I'd suggest tweaking a bit of your phrasing.

Loved it!

Anonymous said...

Ok, so I was all set to play devils advocate here, and see something wrong with this one since the consensus is that it's sooo terrific.
But I can't - I was hooked - you guys are spot on with this one - it's an absolute standout. And I LIKE her snitty little voice - I know bright kids who sound something like this.
Gets my vote, ABSOLUTELY!

Penny said...

LoL. This one reeks of quirky awesomeness. I think the voice really makes this one stand out.

Writerperson said...

I concur. I did have a little problem in the first paragraph, thinking it was going to be one of those talking-down-adult-voice stories and then zip, wrong. A taking-down girl!
Last line in this selection is fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Yes, a winner. I've read 100 of these, and this one pulls me in the most. Edit out the word
"abundant" and it's there. Gets my vote 100%.
My only problem is I wish I had written this one. One day...

Merc said...

YES! Hahaha, I love the voice and the comparisons and the interaction between the narrator and Damon. ;) Very nice job--I would definitely read on!

~Merc

Anonymous said...

Excellent. Just excellent.

Secret Agent said...

Yup. Worked for me too. Big-time. I agree that "abundant" sounds a little school-marmy but from there on, pitch perfect. Sort of Anastasia Krupnik channelling Lemony Snicket. I'd want pages.

Anonymous said...

And...wow...

celtgirl said...

This is good - I would totally keep reading. The description/comparison of boy and frog is spot on.
And there is just a HINT of something going on with Damon.
More more more.

Carrie said...

Yeah, I was hooked too. At some points, I wondered exactly how old she really IS, but I'm not sure I care. She's just too funny.

Anonymous said...

:) A BIG FAT YES...

Melusine said...

I sooo agree with her appraisal. (Or I did at that age.) Yes. I think my grandchildren would enjoy this.

TerriRainer said...

I almost didn't post, as everyone seemed to have the same opinion, but when the work is THIS good, I decided to go ahead. YES!

Loved it! I also agree it's the best one yet!

:) Terri

Anonymous said...

I like this, and would keep reading for sure! I'm just not so sure about the word polliwog- i don't think it would be in the girl's vocbularly, since she's so young.

Emily H

Anonymous said...

Umm, this was unbelievably good for only the first page.
And yes, I teach grades 1 and 2 and we do the frog life cycle, so I think she would know what a polliwog is. It's the first life science we teach. And btw, YES! My fav so far (read about 35)-

erin

Alicia said...

Yes, I'd keep reading. At least enough more to see how the plot develops. No promises I'd read the whole book, unless the fun voice remains consistent and the plot engages me. Excellent writing so far.

Lori said...

Wow, I guess I'm the only "on the fence" critiquer here. I say that because I didn't like not actually being introduced to a character earlier on. Yes, the voice is good, and adult readers were able to deduce that it was a little girl speaking, but your target audience might not. I felt like we were getting more of a kid's thesis on boys and frogs, rather than meeting our narrator. And, being written in first person, that's a sticking point for me.

(Going to hide from the angry throng now...)

Mike from PA said...

For me, I meet and begin "seeing" the character through her voice. And I don't think a few quick sentences about the frog/boy qualifies as a "thesis" --
The the first person works here, IMHO. It especially works for MG and for this story, in as much as I can deduce from one page.
All around, this one has me the most intrigued of all the entries.

Inkblot said...

Big yes, though the repetition of 'damp' got a little too much by the time we get to Damon. Maybe one too many rep's.

(contract they have --> they've just risen, for tone of narrator/to indicate younger age of narrator?)

Beth said...

I, too, am curious as to the age of the narrator. Sometimes she feels too old for this genre (the way things are phrased; words used), and sometimes too young. I'm on the fence. Erm: Pass.

Ardyth said...

Mmm, mid-grade novel with strong narrative voice. Yup. Hooked.

fairchild said...

Hooked.

Great voice, nice setup. I liked the way we are taken through the MC's observations of her surroundings. Although, I'm not sure I'd be interested in what happends next (I didn't get a sense of the plot), I'd read on for the main character.

Anonymous said...

Yes, absolutely. I'm hooked right from the first few words. This one is a winner.

-Amy

Booksmarts said...

Yes, wonderful, more, more and more! This is a delightful piece -absolutely perfect tone. We want more.

Christy said...

Nice piece. I like the voice and the characters are funny. I can really visualize these characters.

Katie said...

Holy mackrel! This is a popular piece! (stares at the numbers).

I haven't read any of the other comments yet, but...

In the back of my head, I was poking the boy to put the poor butterflies in a jar with ammonia (or whatever) and make sure they are TRULY dead before sticking pins through them.

But strong voice, humored by the boy comparisions. Nice job - would keep reading<:

Karen Duvall said...

Fab! So yes, I'd read on. For MG, this is a phenomenal start, IMO.

Alli L. said...

WOW...erm, that means a definite YES -- completely hooked on this one.
And...
Yowzer!

Dave said...

Hooked? Kind of.

I liked the opening, then I ran into this:

Not that I would touch a frog or a boy.

Ever.

I think they need to be pulled up into the paragraph before.

Then there is a definite switch in tone with "But as I sit here..."

I never have liked the first person POV where everything is described as it is happening. It feels detached and fake to me.

My take on it:

"But as I sat there watching my cousin pin butterflies to his foam board, I couldn't help thinking about frogs and warts..."

Its a simple tense shift, but for me, it strengthens the writing tremendously. I would also lose a few of the 'ands'. "Frogs, warts, bugs and viruses, and how..."

Anonymous said...

Hooked, yes, hooked, line and sinker. This one is a shining standout.

-Ghostgirl

JennyMeyer42 said...

This is just awesome!