Wednesday, March 10, 2010

37 Secret Agent

TITLE: Booberry Pie
GENRE: Chapter book

“Shhhhhh,” I said to my two best friends, Emma and Tim. “The guests are talking about ghosts.”

We hid behind two big, green plants beside the porch at the Mountain Air Bed and Breakfast. That’s the inn my parents run. Inn rule # 1. Do not interrupt when adults are talking, especially adult guests. There is no rule about hiding and listening, not yet.

“Seen any ghosts around here?” the man asked the woman. They walked across the porch and sat in rockers, side by side.

Ghosts here! I thought. A chill ran through me and froze my words before I could spit them out.

“Ghosts?” I heard the woman ask. “Here?” She didn’t sound too happy about it either.

“Heard any?” the man said, like seeing or hearing a ghost was the most normal thing in the world.

“No, I haven’t,” the woman answered.

I peeked through the bushes for a better look. The man had white hair that sprouted every which way. His skin was so white and thin; he looked pale as a ghost himself. I’ve never actually seen a ghost, but I think it would be as white and thin as fog. The man wasn’t that thin, but close. He looked like he stepped right out of the past, from the top hat to the vest to the buttoned shoes.

“My name is Napoleon T. Geist,” the man said. “I prefer the name Pole.”

The woman said her name was Molly.


  1. The writing fits well for a chapter book and is sufficient to hook in the intended reader. I like the concept, but it didn't overly wow me. Again though, it will probably be fine for your intended audience.

  2. I like the tone, and the set-up, but some of the logic of this bothered me. The narrators the guests are talking about ghosts, then the man asks the woman if she's seen any ghosts, like he's introducing the topic.

    Then the narrator seems surprised that the man mentions it.

    Seems like the narrator has to set it up a bit better in the first graf. If the three kids are just eavesdropping, the man's quote would be more surprising.

    As it is, it's like the kids say, they're talking about ghosts, then on cue, the people talk about ghosts, and then the kid seems shocked ("they're talking about ghosts!"). I kind of feel like I'm being hit over the head.

  3. I like your voice and I think it is appropriate for chapter book, but I agree you'd have more punch if the kids didn't expect the adults to be talking about ghosts. I can see my kids enjoying this.

  4. I liked it. I was hooked. Agree about the repeated dialogue but that's an easy fix.

  5. I'm another one who agrees with JohnO about the repeated ghost thing. But I think the voice is cute, particularly the 'not yet' phrase.

  6. I liked the voice too, and the rule, but I'm not totally hooked. I agree with the others about the repetition. Maybe something more needs to happen than just the strangers talking about ghosts.

  7. Good start!! The story has me interested. The writing is good, especially the paragraph describing Pole.

    My only suggestion is to speed things up, get us to the HOOK earlier. I like ghost stories — tell us why this one is unusual, and keep me turning the pages to find out what happens next! ㋡

  8. This is really fun! I like how they are evesdropping. I also think the Inn rule is awesome and something you could incorporate throughout (how many rules are there?? I'm sure tons!). I like that they are talking about ghosts.

    I like how the girl's thoughts make her present, even though they aren't very active in the scene.

    Great descriptions.

  9. I'd start with the Shhh, the guests are talking and the rule then go straight to them overhearing "My name is Napoleon T. Geist,” the man said. “I prefer the name Pole.”
    Great line.
    Then work way into ghost story with a little more build up/suspense and less hitting over the head.

  10. I think John said it all. They say the same thing over and over and it doesn't tell us anything.

    Who is the main character? Does he/she have a name? We should know who he/she is if you want us to identify or empathize with him/her.

    And perhaps, if this is a ghost story, give us a ghost. If we're not actually going to see one, at least let the talk between the adults be a bit more spooky/creepy. Maybe it could even be dark out to enhance the spooky feeling? I thought it really needed a lot more.

  11. I really liked this, but the fourth paragraph didn't read like a chapter book to me, more like MG. Chapter books are for young readers and I'm not sure a young child would use the words: 'A chill ran through me and froze my words.'

    Also this sentence seemed like MG: 'He looked like he stepped right out of the past, from the top hat to the vest to the buttoned shoes.'

    Maybe if the voice was more like a younger child this would work for me. I loved the idea of the ghost.

  12. The hook works. You might want to build up the tension to make this more a prickle moment - specially since this is the important beginning of your book, but that's only an edit away.

    The last sentence is so mundane it's like an appetite suppressant. I think you really need to work longer on scaring the pants off the reader just setting off on the journey through to the end. But I see that I suspect that there's potential. Maybe I'd carry on on my way the huge slush pile to at least attempt another couple of chapters before I made my decision.

  13. This doesn't feel like a chapter book to me. More like a middle grade? Chapter book is a very specific sensibility and this author just isn't hitting it. That isn't to say that the writing is bad, because it's not. I just wonder what makes the author classify this as chapter book? To read on would depend mainly on what the book is about and the word count in this case. At least for me.

    And the last descriptive paragraph could be cut in half. Both sets of descriptions are fine, but I would pick one or the other. Using both slows the pacing considerably.