Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Are You Hooked? #12

GENRE: MG Contemporary Adventure

Casey Buckles sank back, trying to bury himself in the bus’s musty seat. He clutched a note, certain its words would lead to someone’s death:

Marty, your family, danger, killing, get to the ice caves.

A shiver tingled down his back at his dad’s name. His father had taken off on a sudden trip—fifth one in three months. No explanation, no discussion. Was the family breaking apart? Casey’s blood ran cold at the thought. Could be why his mom cried harder than normal when he’d boarded the bus.
He smoothed the note across his thigh, wishing he hadn’t found it that morning, wedged between the fridge and cabinet. Thinking it a lost page from his geography notes, he shoved it into his camping bag, not giving it a second thought, until now. Reading it made him want to crawl out the bus’s emergency exit and take his chances in the forest. Bigfoot would be cake compared to the backflips and somersaults his imagination was doing over this note.

Snatching his lucky magnetite lodestone from his jeans pocket, he turned it over and over in his hand. Silver flecks across the black-grey surface winked back at him. The metamorphic rock was his favorite, morphing from one rock type to another. Too bad he couldn’t morph into the son his dad wanted to hang with.

The rickety bus jostled Casey about as it bumped along the dirt road. The note played on his mind. Where in the heck were there ice caves in the mountains of Idaho?


  1. Nice imagery. I like how his imagination races with endless possibilities of trouble. We get a good snapshot of Casey's family his internal struggles in this scene.

    One suggestion on the first sentence. Instead of "trying to bury himself", try "buried himself". It's tighter that way.

  2. I was hooked with the first two paragraphs, but then my interest wavered. The next part has great descriptions, but for middle grade readers, the sentences need to be shorter, and the action needs to move quickly to keep their interest.

  3. Being a former middle school teacher (and having written a MG book myself), I think the voice and language in this intro. is spot on. The only part which bothered me was the use of 'metamorphic' followed 'morphed'. The words are just too similar. But I think most kids would want to read on!

  4. I'm hooked. I like the descriptions and the mystery of the note. Casey's thoughts seem realistic and relatable. Two thoughts. I'd take out the "certain its words would lead to someone's death" -- I think the danger is implied in the words of the note. Maybe replace with something along the lines of he has to read it a second time? I'm wondering what kind of bus he's on -- I was thinking a school bus, especially given the reference to "geography notes," but then the "camping bag" was jarring/distracting for me. Slightly more info about where Casey's going would be nice, but I'd certainly keep reading to find out more.

  5. I'd keep reading. I'm curious to know what happened to his dad and why his mom was so upset. My one issue is he's surprised by the notion of ice caves in Idaho. There are many famous ones. If he's native to Idaho, wouldn't he know that?

  6. You got the right tone, but a number of little things threw me. 1) His last name is Buckles and the first line has him on a seat. My initial thought was 'Is this punny?' Sure that notion is dispelled quickly, but it threw me for a second. 2) When his mom cried, I wasn't sure if it was when Marty or Cassey boarded the bus. 3) Why stuff a geography note into your camping bag? 4) Why mention Bigfoot? It is supposed to foreshadow a supernatural plot?

    So about half way through, I started asking 'is this really important?' and 'Is info being rushed?" So, sorry, but not hooked.

    I certainly see the form of a great story though.

  7. I was hooked. First page and we have a character, a problem, stakes, and mystery. It reads MG. But I particularly like how you worked in backstory. A bit here, a bit there, so it didn't feel like backstory.

    One thing did confuse me. I wondered if he was on a schoolbus, or perhaps a Greyhound bus. I told myself it was a school bus because of the geography notes, and then wondered why his mom would cry when he got on, so then I changed my mind and assumed he was going away, possibly to Idaho. Perhaps make that clearer. And I did wonder how old he was. I assumed 12 because it's MG.

    Sounds like it will be a mysterious adventure. Good luck with it!

  8. After the line "...certain it's words would lead to someone's death" I wasn't expecting it to be quite so literally spot on! I don't think it's necessary to say that part since the note specifically mentions danger and killing. Maybe just have him clutching the note and then when you tell us what it says we can be startled instead of pre-prepared.

    I too am a bit confused on what kind of bus, where he is going, etc. but the writing is good so I would follow this for a while.

  9. I like the potential adventure in the caves, but I'm thrown by the "he" pronouns, trying to identify Dad and the boy. For me, there's too much information.

  10. I was hooked with the first two paragraphs, but then my interest wavered. The next part has great descriptions, but for middle grade readers, the sentences need to be shorter, and the action needs to move quickly to keep their interest.