Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July Secret Agent #24

TITLE: Theft of the Star Tracker
GENRE: Middle Grade

Drew Richfield slouched lower in the worn bus seat and cranked up the volume on his iPod. A steady drumbeat throbbed in his ears as he shifted in the seat, trying to find a comfortable position for his long legs. Traffic surged past them on the busy highway as the Greyhound lumbered slowly toward school. Oakville. Drew read the green sign right before a truck blocked his view. Ugh, he thought, another hour and I'll have to show the parasite around.

As if on cue, his younger brother was standing in front of him, mouth moving. All summer he had been forced to listen to Alex prattle on and on about global positioning systems and programming mechanics. But now, away from their father's watchful eye, he could finally ignore Alex and concentrate on his own thoughts.

He nodded in his brother's direction, and Alex disappeared. Drew closed his eyes and relaxed into the seat. Maybe after the science fair he could ditch Alex and focus on football.

Suddenly, a hand gripped his shoulder. Drew jerked upright. Alex was standing over him, motioning wildly with his spindly arms, his face transitioning from red to purple.

Drew's pulse quickened. He pulled his earbuds out and grabbed his brother by the shoulders. "Alex, take a breath and tell me what's going on."

"My bag." Alex pointed to an empty seat.

"What bag?" Drew asked. "I don't see any bag."

"Exactly." Alex whined, "I told you to watch it, and now it's gone."


  1. Good voice, nice characterizations (love "parasite") and great setting detail. You get a lot in in these 250 words, including a crisis.

    I'm thinking this is upper MG from the MC. If so, the voice is just right, imo. Only word that I thought might be too adult sounding was "prattle." Otherwise, no negatives (except wondering what the last word is in the title :)

    Best wishes!

  2. Great description -- I got a clear picture in my head of what was happening.

    One question -- do kids go to school on Greyhound buses?


  3. Nice, clean writing, and you caught my attention several times with 'parasite' and "GPS and programming mechanics." It said this was a bit more than a pesky little brother.

    I was a bit disappointed in the ending. I expected a bigger problem. But considering his brother seems to be a genius or prodigy of some kind, I'm guessing there are more than school books in his bag, so I'd read more.

    It does seem to have an 'average,' and 'ordinary' tone to it, so you may want to spice it up a bit if you can.

  4. I thought the dialogue was great and it made me want to read on to see what happened next.

    I had a couple of problems with the first paragraph. The second and third sentence have the same structure. Perhaps, rework them so they don't both have the word "as" as a connector. Also if he reads the green sign and we are in Drews head, then I'd like to know what it said. I'm assuming the sign is important since it's in the first paragraph of the story.

  5. I think it's possible that I just read WAY too much paranormal, but in the third paragraph when it says "He nodded in his brother's direction, and Alex disappeared" I totally thought that Alex had just flat out vanished. I wonder if there is a way to be a little more descriptive so that people like myself wouldn't get the wrong idea. :)

  6. I like the voice, it sounds right on with MG to me. I also wondered about the Greyhound bus, though.

    For the disappeared part, I did not realize that Alex was leaving his seat. For some reason I thought he was disppearing under a blanket to go to sleep or something. So then I got confused when Alex was standing over Drew. Maybe more detail about Alex leaving (where is he going, for a walk, bathroom) would clear that part up.

    I would definitely read on to find out what's in that bag too.

    Great job!

  7. Nice voice and great job hooking me in 250 words. Love "parasite." I agree about the greyhound bus (if they're taking a that bus because it's a long trip to the science fair or something, you may need to be more explicit.) I also agree about the disappearing part. Maybe, "Alex headed to the bathroom," or something like that.

    Best of luck!

  8. The first three paragraphs dragged on and on, and I struggled to keep reading because I don't want to read about traffic instead of getting right to the action. The voice didn't sound right for MG either. Drew sounded annoyed to the extent where he seemed arrogant and that makes him unlikeable. The problem at the end isn't a big one that would make me want to keep reading. The writing could be a bit tighter. I wasn't hooked, sorry.

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  10. You did a great job at flashing out the relationship between the brothers. Maybe change the past progressive 'was standing' to past simple. I'd read on for a little longer to find out what happens.

  11. This is nicely written. Very easy to read! Would definitely take a look at more!

  12. I think this sounds just like MG, but I had a couple of questions in this short snippet.

    Are they going to school or to a science fair? I just didn't know kids rode Greyhounds for a daily ride to school.

    Also, I thought his kid brother actually disappeared.

    Overall, though, I like this, and so far it sounds like it might be a very fun read.

  13. I liked this, but the greyhound thing threw me for a minute. I thought that he might have been moving or something until I read on. Maybe explain where they are going before the greyhound thing? Good job though!