Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Secret Agent #9

TITLE: Sciencetastic SuperGirls
GENRE: Middle Grade

I’m pretty sure nobody’s ever gotten good news from a man with twitching eyebrows. So when our English teacher disappears for an emergency appendectomy and the new sub Mr. Trolp appears at the lectern with eyebrows all a-wiggle, I’m not expecting him to start handing out cookies.

Of course, I’d likely get the first cookie if he did – because he’s staring right at me.

“You never know who’s going to be out to get you in life.”

Right. No cookies coming from this guy.

“You’ve got to stay on your guard, always checking behind you.”

OK, so we’ve found ourselves a sub loonier than the lady who only walked on her tiptoes and spent half the class talking about leprechauns. Because, actually, it’s not just his eyebrows – his left hand is twitching, too. Maybe he got bit by a rabid spider. Maybe he’s becoming a rabid spider.

I get it, Mr. Trolp. I’ll check behind me. I'll even walk backwards. Now, look at someone else, so they can benefit from this juicy morsel of very-important-advice-instead-of-actually-having-English-class.

Still staring me down, Mr. Trolp’s mouth twists like he has to chew each word before it comes out. “It could happen anytime – next Tuesday, for example – when you think everything is going fine.”

Jeff Harkiss tips back in his chair, his hat perched on top of his head so he can claim he’s not actually wearing it. “Just start the DVD, dude.”

There’s always a first time to agree with Jeff Harkiss.


  1. Love the voice. 'There's always a first time to agree with Jeff Harkiss.' is wonderful.

    I'd love a little bit more detail to hint at what kind of school this is. I'm presuming it's not a normal school? But that's my only gripe.

    Very enjoyable read!

  2. Loved this! Love the voice, very MG (man, MG is doing great so far in this contest) and i laughed out loud at the final line.
    Great job!

  3. The last line is fantastic -- I love this! I agree with the others that I need a bit more information, though.

  4. Wow, I remember this from another contest. Loved the title then, still do, and you've added such a fun flair to the opening! Nice job. It's humorous from the start, yet has a little portent-of-doom vibe going on b/c of the "nobody's ever gotten good news." And the entire passage keeps that great voice.

    I'd only change a few things--and they're just little changes to smooth things out. In the last sentence of the first para, I'd take out "with." "…Mr. Trolop appears at the lectern, eyebrows all a-wiggle…" just makes it a little funnier/sharper imo. Also, I'd consider taking out "coming" (i.e. "Right. No cookies from this guy.") for the same reason.

    I'd italicize becoming in "Maybe he's becoming a rabid spider" to emphasize the funny. Also, "very-important-advice-instead…" seems a little long w/all those hyphens. You might consider changing it to something like "very-important-advice instead of giving me the caterpillar eye." Still funny, but the rhythm might flow better.

    Love the name Jeff Harkiss and his bit at the end! Great, fully lives up to the awesome title!

    Ninja Girl

  5. I loved the voice and the humor! I agree that I would like some hint what the beginning has to do with the title.

  6. I laughed out loud three times. Great voice. Love the foreshadowing.

    Only thing that felt a little off to me came after "I get it, Mr. Trolp."

    I'm thinking maybe add a "please" look at someone else before... And her before seems like a weird thing for a middle schooler to say. It's natural she doesn't want creepy sub looking at her any more. It just feels like the reason should be about the MC's feelings of awkwardness somehow.

  7. Nice! Great title, first and last lines. Cool MC voice. Funny, fast writing and you give us lots to get excited about.

    I don't think you need any more information. That's what the rest of the book is for. "Just turn the page, dude."

  8. Loved it. All my comments were covered above.

  9. Loved the voice and the description of the sub - and also how you added to the humor by briefly referencing a previous sub who had a thing for leprachuans. I think you really have a deft touch for humor that flows and doesn't seem forced. One thing - I am not sure how many middle schoolers would onject to the actual starting of English class no matter what the reason. Jeff Harkiss having the hat "perched" on his head so he can be a middle school lawyer and claim he's not actually wearing it was wonderful. You have a real sense of the hidden life in a classroom. Great job. Oh, I am not sure if the MC is male or female yet. It sounds male to me but ....dunno yet so can't be sure. Maybe clear that up.

  10. I really enjoyed this opening. It pulled me right in and made me want to read more. And from the note above, I figured the MC was female because of the title and they way she noticed things just felt more female to me.

  11. I love this. I'm hooked. Where's the rest?

  12. Great voice. Like the descriptions. Only thing: you give another classmates name but not the MC - perhaps sub could call MC by name since he seems fixated on her/him.
    This sounds fun and I'd read more.

  13. Love this one! I especially laughed at "Right. No cookies coming from this guy."

    Between the title and the ominous feel of the sub, I'm totally intrigued. And by the way, science is awesome and supergirls are too. Really hoping this one gets picked up!!

  14. I agree with the others - this is a very fun opening. Love the voice, especially this line - ". . . like he has to chew each word before it comes out."

    I thought his first line was a little clunky, though. "You never know who's going to be out to get you in life." I think it could be cleaner, and perhaps make him a bit crazier-sounding, maybe with shorter, choppier sentences. But that's just a little nit-picking. I really thought this opening was great.

  15. Twitching eyebrows and no cookies is a very bad sign, but there was a worse sub? Ha!

    I would like a term used to describe Jeff Harkiss, so I know he's a student, but who is he from the MC's perspective? Something that goes along with his hat perching ways. Class clown? Class irritant? Something.

    Is this seventh-grade English? I think most of the details are going to show up in the next pages. Nice opening.

  16. Great voice! I love the last line and want to read more.