Wednesday, January 13, 2010

23 Secret Agent

GENRE: Middle Grade

“Psst, Jack,” whispered Andy.

My best friend leaned over the side of his desk and grinned at me. I ignored him. It was the first day of school. Whispering in class wasn’t exactly the best way to make a good impression on our new social-studies teacher.

“Ahoy, matey,” he whispered a little louder.

I ignored him until a sticky, slimy spitball smacked against the side of my neck. A second one quickly followed. Hitting me with spitballs was a bit much, even for Andy. I figured I’d better answer before he attacked again.

“What?” I asked out of the side of my mouth.

“Avast,” he whispered. “Meet me in ye library after school.”

I had no idea why Andy was talking like that, but I had a feeling it meant trouble. One time he used a weird voice to pretend a dead squirrel could talk. Then he thought it would be fun to hang it across a dark street and wait for a car to come by. That didn’t exactly end well for anyone.

“Ye library?” I asked.

“The…public…library,” Andy said real slowly, like I was too stupid to understand him.

“What’s at the library?” I asked.

“Arrgh. Pirate treasure,” he said with that same big grin on his face.

I admit it; I was curious. The public library isn’t one of our usual hangouts. Andy doesn’t even like to read. He was up to something. Every year it seems Andy has some crazy new idea.


  1. The writing is strong, and I like the crazy sidekick. I'm a little confused about how hanging a squirrel and then waiting for a car would cause a bad ending. I'd cut the last line; it isn't necessary.

    Overall, I'd read more!

  2. Very cute! And I love the voice, and not just the talking-like-a-pirate voice!

    I agree the dead squirrel sentence was a little confusing, but I think it just needs rewording.

    I'm curious to read on and see what they're up the library, no less!

  3. Interesting hook and intriguing setting, but I feel I am getting a stronger sense of Andy than I have of Jack. I'd like to get a little more sense of Jack's character and personality to better ground me in the story.

  4. I thought this was cute. I liked Andy, he's got me curious but the MC not so much.
    I think the hanging squirrel may have been lowered and caused a wreck? That was the impression I got, because my cousin and I once thought up something like that and a po'd driver came and found us and really read us the riot act, so that part made me laugh and connect just fine.

  5. I liked this. I liked both characters, the pirate talk, and even the part about the squirrel. I'd keep reading.

  6. Love it. My only suggestion is that you could show "I ignored him" rather than telling it. If you show the way Jack ignores him it would give a hint at Jack's personality.

  7. Very nice MG voice! In 250 words, I know who your MC's are and have a good sense of where the story is going.

    And I loved Andy. Sidekicks are so much more fun than MC's. I always thought Hermione and Ron were far more interesting than Harry Potter.

    You might put in a line or two about what the teacher's doing, or something that gives us more of a classroom feel, but overall, I thought this worked.

  8. I really liked it. One thing that threw me a little was the voice. I'm guessing Jack is fairly young, yet his thought process seems very advanced. I also found it a little hard to believe that the same kids who would string up a dead squirrel would also meet in the public library to talk about pirate treasure.

    Overall, however, great job.

  9. This is a fun set-up, but for some reason it feels like a Magic Treehouse book. Maybe it's the names that are so similar. Jack and Annie vs. Jack and Andy.
    I'm curious as to what grade these kids are in. Elementary schools in my area (middle of the country) go up to grade 6, and have one teacher who teaches everything except art, music and PE. A social studies teacher speaks more of a tween, older middle grade, story.

  10. I would like this a whole lot more if Andy's talking got Jack in trouble with his teacher. Without that, this just feels like set-up, not an actual scene. You're telling us that something interesting is going to happen...but you aren't showing it.

    It reminds me a bit of Horrible Harry in Room 2b. I think it can work well to have a neutral MC talking about his best friend who does the crazy stuff. But then we need to see the crazy stuff right away. Maybe if you took the time to explain what happened with the dead squirrel... Or have something actually happen in this scene.

  11. I liked this. I'd like it better, though, if Andy were risking something to talk to Jack about this treasure. Apparently he can shoot spitballs at Jack and nothing happens. If he were risking something, that'd up the stakes.

    Also, the switch to present tense for a few sentences in that last paragraph seemed unnecessary. Switching them to past tense would create a better flow.

  12. I really like this--you've got a strong voice and premise! I love Andy's pirate talk and Jack's slight annoyance with it. I can relate to him right away. I'd definitely read on.