Wednesday, January 13, 2010

39 Secret Agent

TITLE: Molly Gumnut Saves a Bandicoot
GENRE: MG - Contemporary fiction

Molly Mavis Gumnut clambered up a knobbly old gum tree and pulled herself onto a crooked branch. As she wriggled her bum to get comfy, the bough shook, dropping leaves in the river below. “Yipes!” She hugged the trunk and held on tight. Sometimes she jumped in for a swim, but not from this height.

“Come down,” yelled her best friend, Lara. “You’ll fall.”

“No, I won’t!” Molly inhaled the fishy odour and giggled as a mullet shot out of the salty water, then belly flopped with a splash. This was her most favourite spot in the whole world.

A red speedboat whizzed by and a girl waved. As Molly waved back, a movement on the riverbank caught her eye. “Look, Lara!” She pointed. “A water dragon.”

“Awesome.” Lara tiptoed towards it and clicked her camera, but the lizard plopped into the river and disappeared.

“Poop,” said Molly. “You missed it. That coulda been the front page for the school calendar.”

Lara shrugged. “No biggie. We’ve got heaps of time.”

Molly smiled at Lara’s freckled face. “Two days? That’s not long, silly. Miss Button said to hand it in by Monday.”

Lara swung her camera over her shoulder and strolled further along the bush track. “I’ll keep looking then.”

“Wait for me!” yelled Molly. Her long messy ponytail gathered cobwebs and bark as she scrambled back down. Shaking her head and neighing like a donkey, she galloped through the woods to catch up with Lara.

“Quiet,” whispered Lara, holding her finger to her mouth.


  1. Great dialog. I love that you include more of the senses. A lot of writers miss that.

    There's not a lot going on in this excerpt. Some setup, intro of the two characters. I'm a fan of action and this is a bit slow for me.

    There's a hint at the end that the action is about to start. Bummer that this couldn't be a little bit longer.

  2. I agree with Sarah that there is some strong writing here but not much going on yet.

  3. Interesting characters but I agree that it needs more action.

    One tidbit: you don't need to say "most favourite". Favourite is the top of the rank on its own.

  4. I love the setting here, and Molly's voice. Plus, I always find a girl who climbs trees and is unselfconscious appealing. Like Emma Jean Lazarus, for instance.

    I think this would be more compelling if we were given a better clue about their assignment. I have a feeling it's taking pictures of wildlife, but maybe you could up the tension a bit by having them want to snap something really rare. The thrill of the hunt, that sort of thing. Or if they had some competition for the best shot.

    But, overall, I think this is charming. Good luck!

  5. I really like the voice here and I'd definitely keep reading.

  6. This has a very cute feel and the voice is just right for young MG. I don't have too much a sense of what's happening in the story yet, but I'd keep reading.

  7. I really like the voice. I can see, smell, feel the scene. I think we just don't have enough words to know what the assignment is, but I would still keep reading because the surroundings, the characters and the dragon creature engaged me.

  8. I love the action that's going on. Especially at the end when she climbs back down the tree, flips her pony tail and gallops like a horse. Greaty physical descriptions. As you know, I've read a lot more of this story and it just keeps getting better as it goes along.

  9. This is great young MG! I like Molly and I'm ready to follow her almost anywhere, despite there being little action in this short snippet. Good job!

  10. I like your word choice. I've recently read some YA novels with unnecessary profanity. I think you maintained dignity by cut or unique substitutes.

    Water Dragon? Sounds fun.

  11. I love the name Molly Mavis Gumnut. This had a fun feel and I would keep reading to find out what's going to happen. Personally I liked "most favourite." I thought it was part of Molly's exuberant voice. But I did wonder about swimming in a river that speedboats whiz through!

  12. Love the title, love the quirky voice, love Molly Mavis Gumnut (both her name and her character). As for action, the last line saved it for me - it's enough of a hint to keep me going, which I definitely want to do. Hooked!

    P.S. And I vote to keep "most favourite." It sounds like Molly:)

  13. Since I already know the story, I know what's going to happen. I love the natural dialogue between the characters. Too bad it's such a short snippit, because it gets better as it goes! I, too, vote to keep "most favourite" because it's so "Molly".

    Great job!

  14. I thought this was a quite charming read! And one that would probably appeal to younger middle-school girls. I, too, like the dialogue between the characters and would read on to see what it is that's got Lara's attention. Good job!

  15. I think the action level is just fine. You've given us enough to be grounded in character and setting, with some hints that the girls have a goal. The action will obviously follow.

    Sweetie, your prose is so smooth and clear now. I had no problems entering into Molly's world. My favorite part is the messy ponytail getting snagged in the cobwebs and bark. Such a perfect image.

  16. Love the name Molly Mavis Gumnit - its just looking for trouble, without meaning to!
    Great MG setting and dialogue - in just a few words!
    Well done!

  17. Lots of voice, great names and smooht writing. I'd definitely keep reading :)