Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Middle Grade Are You Hooked? #13

TITLE: Elly Has Talent. Or Not
GENRE: Middle Grade

Ms. Pencilskirt stops at my desk, holding out her clipboard so the signup sheet is facing me. I don't look at it. I just write even faster, pressing my number two pencil so hard it almost rips through my journal. She should know this means I'd sooner stick a fork in Justin Jameson's hair and use it to eat brussel sprouts, than I would sign my name on that form but I swear, it's like her skirt has cut off the circulation to her brain. She actually moves it—the clipboard, not the pencil skirt—even closer.

"Elly," she says, in case I haven't noticed the clipboard is blocking my right nostril, "don't you want to enter the pageant this year?"

I put down my pencil and take a deep breath. There are two kinds of girls in Devon County:

1) Those who dream of being the Devon County Winter Carnival Ice Princess so they can ride on the sleigh and stick their frozen, dripping nose up at all of the girls who aren't Devon County Winter Carnival Ice Princess, AND

2) Me

I know I should tell Ms. Pencilskirt this. I should tell her that no girl in her right mind would want to sit on a moving ice sculpture and pretend she's happy about the fact that she's probably going to lose three fingers to frostbite. I should tell her that grandma Bernice didn't burn her bra so I could turn into a tiara-wearing popsicle. But I don't.


  1. Definitely, definitely hooked. I like this one a lot. "There are two kinds of people" is so well-used it's almost a cliche, but you took it and made it new and funny. I would love to read more of this.

    I love the voice so much that I find myself wanting to quote my favorite bits. "I'd sooner stick fork in Justin Jameson's hair and use it to eat brussel sprouts"! "In case I haven't noticed the clipboard is blocking my right nostril"! Really terrific.

  2. Well done. I love that last line, "grandma Bernice didn't burn her bra so I could turn into a tiara-wearing popsicle." Very rhythmic and memorable.

  3. Fantastic voice! You established Elly's tone and personality right off the bat and that makes us immediately comfortable with her. Though it's not my usual type of story, I'd definitely keep reading!

  4. Love it. Can I meet Elly in person?

    All best wishes with this.

  5. Wonderful. Great voice and descriptions. I already really like this character and want to read more about her. Great job!

  6. Well, somebody has to throw in a few criticisms after all that well-deserved praise!

    A few words can be stricken to make things move along even faster: "just" - I always have to do a search and destroy for that word myself. "Is" between clipboard and nostril can go away. Lose "this means.".

    The pencil wouldn't rip through the journal, just a page or two - maybe it should happen rather than "almost."

    I'm not sure I believe the mc would reference bra burning - that would be such ancient history for her. It would be great though coming up in conversation with her grandma.

    I like the brussel sprout line, but it confused me too. Is Justin's hair nasty? Just a little more clarity here. I think it should be "and then" rather than "and use" since it is a sequence of events.

  7. Great MG voice! Just a few comments:

    Would a classroom teacher pass around a pageant sign-up sheet? (sign-up needs a hyphen)

    Justin: Who is he? Just few words to explain. (Gross kid across the aisle)

    I agree that the pencil would not puncture the entire journal!

    Last para: Don't repeat "she's"

    I'd tighten the brussel sprout sentence. Too wordy. No comma needed after brussel sprouts.

    "Ely," she says..."Don't you want to sign up?"
    (Capitalize Don't)

    I'm hooked and would definitely read more!

  8. Oh, wow, I just love the 'two types of girls' part. This is awesome.

    Sorry for being thoroughly unhelpful, but I can't see a thing I'd change.

  9. I loved this too! You surprised me with what the sign-up sheet was for. Nice job. The voice was great.

    The reader quickly feels like they know the MC... but she doesn't seem to be a snarky anti- girl type, just a girl with a definite opinion on the subject.

    Very Hooked!!

  10. Nicely done. Elly has a lot of character!

    The thing that stood out to me was the voice. It's a great voice, but it seems more YA than MG to me. Could be just me since no one else has mentioned it.

    Other than that, there a few little things here and there that others have already pointed out, but overall, it works very well.

  11. Hello, VOICE. Nicely done. I'm kind of jealous.

    I do agree with Barbara that the voice seems a little older than most MG, but I think if it's an old MG character, this will work beautifully.

  12. I enjoyed this one as well, and I think it's nice to have books that challenge a young reader, so I don't see a problem with the voice of the character. I find there aren't always books out there raising the bar for younger readers. They often have to move up to more difficult books that have inappropriate subject matter. Not all MG kids are going to want to read the same books.

  13. LOVE the voice! I also think the sentiments (about not wanting to be a "girly girl") are completely appropriate for MG. The bra burning reference might not be, though. Perhaps some reference to not wanting to be one of these reality TV stars might be more appropriate? (My fourth and fifth grade nieces are always talking about Kim Kardashian's tight clothes- lol.)

  14. Since I can't count my own (#5), I'll say with confidence that this was my favourite out of all of them.

    Loved it.

    One small, niggling thing... you start with Ms. Pencilskirt... and since many MG stories can have silly names, I wasn't sure if this was actually her name or not... and that coloured my impression of the whole thing 'cause I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be taking things seriously or not.

  15. FANTASTIC! Finally a feminist twist after all this moronish Twilightish - stories about young girls who live only to be somebody's wife! I think a writer should have at least a small duty of settling good role models and you're definitely doing it. Great voice, funny and sharp, would absolutely buy it

  16. I wonder if this author is harbouring deep-seated animosity toward pencil skirts and bras. She strikes me as the type of person who might change into her pyjamas at 5:00. She also strikes me as the type of person who might talk about herself in the 3rd person, for example, in the comment section of her own post. *cough*

    Thanks for the great comments everyone. You know I <3 everyone on this blog, especially the ever-fabulous Authoress!