Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April Secret Agent Contest #48

TITLE: Cosmic Cousins and the City at the Center of the Moon
GENRE: Middle Grade

Michelle walked with her litter sister, Mady, one block to the little yellow house at the end of Rose Street, where their cousins lived. Both girls moved briskly through the hot summer sun and over the crack-laden sidewalk, skipping and singing. The smiles on their faces were surpassed only by the magical thoughts that filled their heads.

Michelle and Mady were ready to go to the moon.

The Cousinhood - Michelle, Mady, Cody, and Catherine - had planned their trip to the moon for over a month. They'd worked hard to build the ship, gather supplies, and map the journey. They were cousins by birth, but cosmic by choice. If all went according to plan, today would finally be the day.

As Michelle and Mady walked, Mady sang a song. It sounded like the tune from I'm a Little Teapot but the words were different.

I'm a little girl
here to meet
moon people and eat some cheese.
If you're on the moon
you'll have no doubt
there's lots of cheese to go around.

"Whatcha singing?" Michelle asked.

"A song I made up for the moon people," said Mady. Michelle listened to her sister's song and before long was humming along.It was very catchy.

"Michelle?" Mady asked when her song was finished.


"Are we really going to the moon?"

"Of course. Why?"

"Cause last night I told mommy and she said only astronauts go to the moon."


  1. I loved "crack-laden sidewalk".

    The song makes Mady sound little, but I see that it's middle grade. MG is ages 9-12 and I've heard that publishers prefer the characters are at the higher end of the age range. But this is just a snippet - this could be a memory or the cousins could range in age.

    Can you use an alternative to "walk briskly"? A strong verb instead of an adverb - maybe "strode" or "skipped".

    I like the premise and the dialogue is believable.

  2. I like the premise and am very curious if they've built a real spaceship somehow. I almost wish this story started earlier so I could read about their preparations instead of just hearing about them in one line. But I'd definitely read more just to see if they do, indeed, somehow make it to the moon.


  3. The one girl's voice seems young for MG, but she could, of course, be the younger sister.

    I would keep reading because I want to know if they actually take off - or if it's just pretend.

    Good job.

  4. I really loved this. Great opening.

  5. I like the description in the first paragraph, but I don't think it's your strongest choice to lead the story.

    "The Cousinhood" makes me think they're all cousins, but Michelle and Mady are sisters.

    It's a fun premise and you have a distinctive voice. A shade young perhaps, but maybe not.

  6. I would start with the little sister singing the song. The part before that is all telling, and doesn't really draw me in. Especially since you're telling us about the spaceship, without telling us whether it's real or make-believe. So all it does is make me a little confused.

    The two sets of names starting with the same letter seems a little precious for my taste.

    Once the girls start talking, though, I get a feel for who they are and I start enjoying the story.

  7. I like the overall premise, and the amount of dialogue mixed with backstory.

    This being said, I feel like starting the novel with such a large chunk of backstory (and over-embellishing adjectives) might be a bit of a turn off for some readers. Really liked the song though.

    Overall, I'm hooked. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I think you nailed the MG voice. I like the idea of this story. Whether they actually go to the moon or not? I'd keep reading.

  9. I really liked this. I only wish I could read more.

  10. I enjoyed the quick and easy established relationship between Michelle and Mady, well done. I did feel as if the problem was late to present and a bit of a letdown surprise, but perhaps if I read the beginning CHAPTER, I wouldn't feel that way.

  11. I thought it started too early. Perhaps start with them at their spaceship? You could still get the song and Mom's line in there.

    It's also told from a narrator's POV, which is fine if the whole story is told that way, but I don't have a sense of who your MC is - Michelle or Mady.

    It is interesting, but I think it's not quite there yet. Keep at it!

  12. I am not convinced. They sound too young, and it feels a bit cutsie-wootsie.

    I'd read a couple more pages, to be sure, but it would have to lose the twee pretty fast for me to keep going.