Wednesday, January 13, 2010

43 Secret Agent

TITLE: The Many Adventures of Courtesy and Patience
GENRE: Middle Grade

The drying earth and pig refuse chafed Patty’s backside, up into her petticoat. She itched at the spot and several boys snickered behind her. She would have to remind them of their mistake later, once she was cleaner and more confident. Out of a curtain of mud-caked hair she glowered at them. Two of the boys shifted warily.

“Patience Tabitha Cowdery, come here at once,” called Mrs. Hibberd, steel in her voice.

The boys snickered again and Patty gritted her teeth. Now she would have to pay them double, this time for laughing at her name. Nobody but The Hibberd had the courage to call her Patience. She wondered how long it would take to make the boys cry when she and her best friend, Court, pinned them down and pounded their flabby bellies. Manky wouldn’t last long. For all the help his height gave him, he wasn’t the toughest of sorts.

“You boys too,” The Hibberd commanded.

That shut them up quick enough. They followed Patty around the side of the two-story ramshackle house. Keeping her back to them, Patty trudged from the backyard to the front, stepping clear of the boards that supported the home for displaced orphans like a crutch. Knocking over that crutch would make their crooked house a flattened house instead. Where would she go then?

Patty halted below the front porch steps and picked at the old blue paint on the banister, avoiding the look of dismay on The Hibberd’s face above her.


  1. Nice voice and there's promise of an interesting mc. I'm a little lost for an image at the start, though. The first sentence mentions pig refuse and mud, but after that there's a long stretch where I'm wondering where this girl is and where the boys are and where the disembodied voice is coming from.

    After that, I like the description of the crutch holding up the house.

  2. Nice descriptions. Nice setup. I love the MC.

    Had a bit of trouble with the beginning and 'seeing' the mud on a bare butt and yet she has clothes on. Hard to get a real sense of it at the start. Perhaps starting with the fight or however she got that stuff all over her? That would be some lovely action to be dropped into.

    POV issue in avoiding a look in the last paragraph. She can't say what it is if she's not looking at it.

    Nicely done. I'd read on and hope she beats the crap out of those boys.

  3. The first sentence really threw me. I liked her attitude and the mental promise to make the boys pay later and I also really like the image of the crooked house being held up by a crutch.

  4. This has a nice feel, and I like the saucy main character. Small thing, but I was thrown by the image of the house leaning against the wood planks like a crutch. Would the house really fall over if she kicked the boards?

  5. Everyone else has said what I wanted to say . I will just add that I think it's odd to call the character The Hibberd at every occurence except the first. I would suggest you keep them the same.

  6. Once I got past the first paragraph, I liked this a lot. But there were a few things in that first paragraph that tripped me up.

    First, how are drying earth and pig refuse chafing Patty's backside? Did she fall into a pile of mud and manure? If so, why don't we see that happening? And I stumbled a bit over that phrase, "the drying earth and pig refuse." Maybe something like "the mixture of drying earth and pig refuse" would link those two things better.

    Second, glowering out of a curtain of mud-caked hair doesn't make as much sense as glowering from behind one. I get what you mean, but something about the preposition "out of" just didn't ring quite true in that sentence. But that could definitely just be me.

    Those are both pretty small things, and I like I said, on the whole, this was great. LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE-esque stories must be pretty popular in MG fiction right now, since this is the second I've seen in this contest so far.

  7. Like the others, I was tripped up by the first sentence and had trouble "seeing" it but once I got into the story, I loved it. The voice is great for MG and I'm thinking Ms. Patience is quite a spitfire! Fun MC!

  8. Like some of the others, I couldn't really picture what was going on in the first sentence, so that threw me and I went into the piece feeling confused. I like MCs who have attitude, though -- so her reaction to the laughter of the boys definitely made me like her. I'd keep reading for character alone here, but I think the tone is very nice too.

  9. Love it! So far this is my favorite, but not because the MC's called Patty like me, but because she has spunk. I love the voice and would definitely read something like this. I'm definitely hooked.

  10. Lots of fun! I was also thrown by the opening, but figured she must have somehow been pushed into the mud? I'd keep reading!

  11. You've got a great conflict going there and a spunky M.C. I love her name and I didn't have any trouble with Mrs. H becoming The H.

    I also had trouble with that first sentence and was confused about how the dirt was chafing her clothed backside.

    I would definitely read on in hopes of seeing that Manky (another great name!) get whupped.