Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Secret Agent #6

TITLE: Bouncier Than a Rubber Ball
GENRE: Middle Grade

We have red, white and blue rules in our house. The white rules are things like don’t stick a buttery knife in the jam or slam the door on your way out. Blue Rules are a little more serious – don’t give the dog Gummi Bears or draw on the walls. And then there are Red Rules. Do not hide in the fridge. Do not sword-fight with skewers. And do not ever touch mum’s prototype sneakers.

In my defense, Dad always says, “Remember that there are exceptions to every rule.” When he says that he’s actually talking about English grammar rules, but the sneakers were exceptional. It made perfect sense. At the time.

The sneakers were grass green with a bright pink flash down the side. But that’s not what made them special – they were special because they were Wall-Walkers. One of my mum’s yet-to-be-approved sneaker designs.

My mum invents all kinds of sneakers. They’re ‘performance enhancing’ which is just a posh way of saying ‘better.’ The first sneaker she designed was for runners. They had a hole at the front and the back – a tiny motorized fan sucked air in at the front and another blew it out at the back, making the runner extra fast. She’s also made special sneakers for soccer players (with ribbed tips to give extra grip on the ball), shot putters (added weight to give more swing power) and basketball players (containing a special bubbly liquid for extra bounce).


Sarah Ahiers said...

I really really liked this. It was clever, funny and has a great MG feel to it.

The only thing i'm not sure about it the title. It seems a bit clunky to me. But that's just me looking for something to say since i smiled the whole time i was reading this

Ann Bedichek Braden said...

I absolutely love your first paragraph -- especially the don't hide in the fridge bit. It starts us off with great voice, a good sense of the family, and it's funny!

After that, I really liked everything I read, but I wonder if maybe you could bump some of the sneaker description backstory back so you can get us grounded in a scene, too. It's not necessary, but it might make it even stronger.

Dana said...

I very much agree with the previous comment - this is wonderful and original and I love the opening paragraphs. But the descriptions of all the different sneakers slows us down and feels too much like an info-dump (even though it's really fun to hear about them all). But I suspect there's room to hear more about the different types later.
Good luck! Dana (#41)

Paula Millhouse said...


What an amazing first page. I'd like to know MC's name, somehow, and all the sneaker names slowed me up as well.

Your voice is strong, and clear.

Good Luck!

Marieke said...

Love this. I agree you could tighten it up a bit, but the voice is so much fun! Definitely hooked!

Nicole Zoltack said...

I was drawn in! Maybe you could cut one or two of the sneakers you mention at the end, but other than that, I have no other suggestions to make this better.

Jonah said...

Funny and sets us up for a whole slew of interesting hijinx to come. I'd read on for sure. I reckon middle graders would too.

For the purpose of this page it might be more effective to end with the second paragraph and switch paragraph three and four around (with some minor modifications). Then you leave on a laugh line.

Heather said...

This was pretty cute. I liked the "sneakers were exceptional" logic.

While I found the discussion of sneakers interesting, it was very dumpy and took me away from the current issue. If you could find a way to work a couple in more organically, like maybe:

"... the sneakers were exceptional. It made perfect sense. At the time.

They weren't the running sneakers with the motorized fans in front and back or the basketball sneakers with the layer of bubbly liquid. No, they were Wall-Walkers..."

jillheid said...

What a great beginning! You have a great middle grade voice.

Mia K Rose said...

Yes it is hooky.

I really liked your first three paragraph and like others found your last paragraph too much like an info-dump. It sounds like your MC is about to use said prototype sneakers, and I'd want to see the result.

Franziska said...

Thank you all! Delighted you enjoyed it.

And Heather, thanks for that suggestion. Love it.

Happy Dolphin said...

I liked everything about this and I'm sure the target age group would also. I think the voice slips from time to time only in that I get a UK feel with 'mum' and 'posh' etc but that is undercut with sneakers (american) when I think Brits might more naturally call them 'trainers'. then you would have football for soccer I think you need to make certain of your roots of the MC before that mixing. And red white and blue is of course quintessentially american. Otherwise, sounds really fun and a great start. JUst lets decide which side of the pond we are on.

Franziska said...

Thanks, Happy Dolphin. The MC lives in London and is British but I'm writing it for a US audience - it's very tricky to find the balance between making her come across as English while avoiding it being confusing because of using the 'wrong' terms. I did have trainers in there originally but it didn't make sense to US-based readers, hence the sneakers. Maybe I'll have to work around these words somehow.

But red, white and blue? Quintessentially British too! Our flags share the same colours.

Melissa Jackson said...

Cute! I love that hiding in the fridge had gotten to be such a problem that it needed a special rule. I love zany families.

And Wall-Walkers? That's just cool.

I would read on.

shelley said...

Really enjoyed you first couple of paragraphs-funny and orginal. I'd zero in more on who your MC is rather then go into descriptions of shoes. Good luck.

Happy Dolphin said...

Dear Franziska :) I like your struggle with the voice and understand the frustration. I did not mean to imply that the colors were uniquely ameerican - as you said, they are on the British, French, and Russian flags actually - but the saying of the colors as in 'red white and blue" is American. However, I salute you in trying to find a balance between these things. I was born in the UK but came to the US as a middle-schooler so I am well aware of the unique linguistic challenges. Thank God I was in high school before my classmates figured out what wanker meant. I said it with impunity for years until they caught on. Blast the internet! Good luck.

Mary Vettel said...

Great MG voice. Would like to know MC name/gender. Was confused by use of 'mum' and 'sneakers'. Brits call them 'trainers' so that took me out of it a bit. Like the bit about not hiding in the fridge.
Agreement w/the others - cut out the info dump and give us more about the MC.
Would be a fun read.

skywriter said...

Hilarious! Great MG voice, and ditto what other commenters said about the various sneaker descriptions. I'm confident you'll find a way to streamline those descriptions without all the ( ). The title might be streamlined too, maybe: "BOUNCE!"

Best wishes with this.

Barbara said...

This didn't work for me. Nothing happened. Perhaps instead of telling us all about Mom's sneakers, tell us what your MC actually did with, or to them. What's the problem?

The stuff about the sneakers is fun, but perhaps save it for later and maybe get it in a little at a time.

Secret Agent said...

I agree with Heather about introducing all the different prototypes more organically.

That would allow for room to tell us what the character dared to do with those tempting sneakers!

Great beginning and fantastic voice.

Franziska said...

Thank youI You've made my day.