Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #24

TITLE:   Book Jumpers
GENRE:   Middle Grade Adventure

There is nothing worse than being in Mrs. DelGrande’s first period class for special learners. Special learner is what they call us. I hate the name but it is much better than what the other kids call us behind our backs.

I don’t think I belong in this class because I am not as bad as the others are. It is not as if I drool on myself like Molly Dupree or have to take off my shoes and socks to finish a math worksheet like Brian Michaels. I have ADHD or as my doctor calls it Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. So what. I get a little distracted in class or act out on occasion, but at least I don’t repeat everything Mrs. DelGrande says the entire period like Jimmy Nelson.

“Bartholomew Jones, are you paying attention to me?” Mrs. DelGrande asks me in her most shrill voice.

“Yes, Ma’am,” I lie to her. I am not paying attention to her but I hear my name and perk up.

I hate when she calls me Bartholomew Jones. I prefer to be called Bart and there is no need for my last name because there is only one Bart here at Winthrop Middle School.

“If you were paying attention you can tell me what I was just speaking about, Bartholomew Jones,” Mrs. DelGrande says.

I look down at my desk and see that there is a math worksheet in front of me.

“Math,” I say.

“Be more specific,” Mrs. DelGrande demands.

“Numbers?” I say meekly.


  1. Oh the poor dear. Sympathy. Sadness. Squirming in my desk for this poor boy. I can only hope he has a real kick-ass adventure and saves the world.

  2. Aaaw. Poor Bart. I remmebering being put in the special class for a bit. I think writing or reading or something... I forget. I like how you can hear his voice and personality right off the bat. The only hting I don't think he'd say is "So what. I get a little distracted in class or act out on occasion" What does he think acting out is? What does he do? It seems something his parents and teachers would say, not him. maybe something like "so what if I get distracted and start throwing paper balsl at Molly." or some sort of example.
    I like Bart already though. I can see him having a great adventure

  3. This is full of personality. You've done a great job of bringing Bart to us and Mrs DelGrande and all the kids. I thought the comment "I don't think I belong in this class...." was spot on. Isn't that what we all think? I don't belong here - I'm not crazy or sick or stupid or whatever!

  4. You've done a great job bringing Bart to life, exposing his emotions and desires. Some of the details feel like they are there for the reader's benefit, like "I have ADHD..." and "at Winthrop Middle School." Can you slow down and insert these facts later? I already feel that he's uncomfortable because he doesn't belong, and that is certainly something any kid will empathize with, so let the story progress naturally, and you will be golden.

  5. The reader will root for the character. You've made Bart sympathetic and show he's distracted by his actions and the teacher calling him out.

  6. This one pulled me in. I thought how the 250 ended was'll get the MG crowd with that. Use more contractions, though, especially since this is first person. That way the character's internalization will sound more natural.

  7. An MG story about an underachiever called Bart? Intersting choice of name.

    The voice was good but I was waiting for somethng to happen.

  8. I liked the title right away, but was disappointed not to see any hint of book-jumping. (Guess I’m just ADHD!) Unless it’s part of his personality, I agree you should use contractions. Also agree you should specify “acting out.”

    Could delete “Special learner is what they call us” and say: “I hate the name Special Learners…”

    A period should go after “Yes, Ma’am.” Also suggest saying “It’s a lie” rather than “I lie to her. Since he’s already responded to her, it should read: “…when I heard my name, I perked up.”

    Just a head-up: I don’t know about the school system where you are, but ADHD kids don’t get put in special classes around here. Very few kids get identified as anything anymore, and even if they are, inclusion or mainstreaming is what many school systems do now.

    Good luck!

  9. You've got a good voice and a great opening line. Now be careful with info-dumping! Don't let exposition clog up your pacing right at the beginning. We don't need all the details of Bart's "condition" or what is troubling his other classmates. Let us see the scene unfold, and we will *see* this things unveil themselves.