Wednesday, April 9, 2014

First Line Grabber #26

TITLE: Hildamay Humphrey's Incredibly Boring Life
GENRE: MG Fiction

Hildamay Humphrey was eleven years old, but I am sad to say that she was entirely unaware of that fact.

51 comments:

  1. No. This may be my personal preference, but I don't like to read middle grade stories where the main character is surprisingly more mature than her age. Feels to me like the author is writing an adult character and calling them a child.

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  2. No. I'm confused about the POV. Is this Hildamay's story or the story of the unnamed narrator?

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  3. Yes. I want to know why she's unaware of her age. I want to know more about Hildamay...why the unusual name?

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  4. Yes. I'm getting an idea of an interesting voice, and I rather like the name Hildamay Humphrey - for a MG character, not for myself! :)

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  5. Yes, that's hilarious. That said, omniscient POV al la A Series of Unfortunate Events could be a hard sell, because, as you can already see from the other comments, it's so rarely done anymore.

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  6. Yes. I think this demonstrates a strong voice and raises interesting questions.

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  7. No. I didn't like the author inserting themselves into the story. It's too much like, okay kiddies now I'm going to tell you a story, for me. It feels distant, and keeps the reader at arms length from Hildamay. I must also say, I wasn't fond of the title. Why would I pick up a book that promises a boring story?

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  8. Yes. The sentence has a Roald Dahl quality to it, and I'd like to know why Hildamay doesn't know how old she is.

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  9. Yes. I really enjoy the voice and it raises some good questions. I'm not sure if I would have picked up the book, though, based on the title.

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  10. Yes.

    I very much liked the voice and the old school way of addressing the reader (like Roald Dahl or Kelly Easton). I think it workds really well for MG

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  11. No, but that may be that I'm not drawn to books where the narrator inserts him or herself. I first read it as the child wasn't capable of knowing her own age because she was mentally disabled in some way, because the narrator was "sad."

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  12. No. Awkward phrasing in the second half.

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  13. Yes. I like the classic feel of the narration and am interested by the hint of conflict.

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  14. No - The part where it says, "I am sad to say that she was entirely aware of that fact," doesn't interest me much. I'd don't really like the voice and "entirely unaware" is redundant.

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  15. No. The voice doesn't read MG to me. It sounds much older.

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  16. No. As others have said, this type of opening is hard to do. Maybe start with Hildmay's voice instead.

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  17. Yes--I want to know why she doesn't know she's eleven and where she got such an unusual name.

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  18. Yes, I personally like this beginning because I like the strange name and would like to know why she doesn't realize she's 11. Although, one caveat. I'm not sure how long I'd keep reading something in this authorial voice instead of the MC's voice.

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  19. Yes.
    But it's a tough call. I'm curious, but something's going to have to happen soon other than a narrator telling me something. Kate DiCamillo has had great success with this technique. It doesn't appeal to me.

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  20. Yes. I don't yet have scene or character, but you've made me curious.

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  21. No
    -because the 3rd person thing isn't working for me. Is this Hildamay's story? If so, then I want to hear her voice.

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  22. Yes. I think the voice paired with the title gives me a good idea of the type of story. If the rest of the book is like the first line, it would be fun to read out loud.

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  23. Yes.
    It makes me want to giggle already. I think my children would love it!

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  24. Sarah Maury SwanApril 9, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    No. Though I do like the name. I had an Irish ancestor name Huldah Snodderly, poor dear, so I feel a connection to Hildamay's name. That being said, I agree that inserting the narrator's voice doesn't work. Have you read "The Book Thief"? If not, I would recommend reading it. The narrator there is Death and he introduces himself in the prologue. If you let your reader know that the narrator is an active character in the story, this would work better.

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  25. No. It's all about someone other than the protagonist and being eleven isn't a significant emotional characteristic.

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  26. Yes.

    I would change the sentence around to make it more active, but I’m intrigued by the idea of the 11 year old who doesn’t know he’s 11. How old does he think he is? Why doesn’t he know he’s 11?

    However, your title gives me pause. I can’t imagine anyone wants to read about an incredibly boring life.

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  27. No- but almost- I need a consequence

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  28. No. I want to like her because I love the name Hildamay Humphrey, but I anticipate that she'll a prodigy (advanced way beyond her years) or someone who exists outside normal society expectations. I'd rather have other things about her (she's a scientific genius, etc.) be the first thing I know.

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  29. Yes. I like the intrigue the first line presents, especially in comparison to the title.

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  30. Yes! I must read more! Love the name.

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  31. Yes. Like everyone else I want to know why she's unaware of her age. =)

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  32. Yes! I must know what is causing Hildamay to be unaware of her age. Also, Hildamay Humphrey rocks.

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  33. Yes. I hope you meant this to be hilarious (in a dry and understated way), because I almost laughed out loud. I definitely wanted to know why. Also wanted to know who this narrator is and why s/he has an opinion about HH's situation.

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  34. No. The narrator approach didn't work for me.

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  35. No - This seems like it will be more of the narrator's story rather than the MC's.

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  36. No. I'm confused by your use of tense. "Was" vs "am" vs "was" -- I'm obviously not sure what her age has to do with the story, but given this is your very first line, I would hope that the age of 11 plays an integral part in the story. Otherwise, why even use it?

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  37. Yes. I very much love precocious characters, and I want to know whyshe doesn't think she'll 11.

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  38. No. It doesn't feel middle grade to me. I can't imagine a ten year old being interested in this because it sounds mildly degrading.

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  39. Yes, leaves me wanting more!

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  40. Yes. This is probably my favorite entry here, as it immediately made me think, 'Oh, that's great -- I love it!' :)

    It really makes me want to know about Hildamay, and I love the voice -- it reminds me of some of my favorite MG books, and I think there's no reason that kind of authorial style should ever go out of fashion, since it can be so charming and effective.

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  41. Yes. The voice it wonderful. It reminds me of the classics like Alice in Wonderland and Lemony Snicket's.

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  42. Yes.

    Love the voice.

    But change the title of the story ASAP - kids hate being bored and it would be a reason to leve the book on the shelf and pick up the next one that promises excitement and thrills (even if the term is being used ironically here, as I suspect).

    The name Hildamay Humphrey brings a visual image of an elephant for some reason. Just saying.

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  43. No. It's nearly a 'maybe'... and what tipped it over into a 'no' was the 'sad to say' because it's like you're being condescending to/about the character. It's interesting that she's unaware of her age, and I'm curious about that, but you kill it by the narrational voice looking down on her for this.

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  44. Yes.

    It has a Roald Dahl feel to it. I read this and laughed out loud. Every time I think about it, I either laugh or smile. Laughter is always good.

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  45. Yes - I want to know why she doesn't know how old she is and what's so sad about it.

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  46. No. I found this confusing. Is she unaware of her age because she's in a coma? Because she's handicapped in some other way? Or is this hyperbole and she does know she's 11, she just doesn't act it?

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  47. Yes. I'm not sure I like the snarky voice of the storyteller but kids generally know how old they are - to the month if not the week. So I want to know why this kid doesn't know a pretty basic fact about herself. Not a fan of the title.

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