Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July Secret Agent #12

GENRE:   MG Historical Fiction

“Patsy, don’t make any plans for today.” Mother blew the steam from her coffee cup.

Eleven-year-old Patsy filled a bowl with Cheerios, poured milk from the Sealtest bottle over the mound of toasted O’s, and crunched the first mouthful. The first mouthful is always the best, she thought, before the Cheerios get soggy. “Why not?” Patsy asked.

“We’re going downtown.”

“Why?” Patsy felt like someone had sunk a rock down her throat. The Fourth of July sales were over last week; Patsy didn’t need any new clothes; and she hated shopping for herself. Today was Thursday, not Wednesday, so that ruled out the possibility of a Shopper’s Matinee movie. Patsy hoped Mother’s shopping list was for herself. “Where are we going?”

“To Belk’s foundation department,” Mother said.

“Foundation? Are we building something?”

Mother smirked and sipped coffee. “Yes. We’re building you some bras.”

“Bras!” Patsy croaked. “I don’t need a bra. I’ve put on Tussy deodorant every day this summer, just like you said. Isn’t that enough?” Patsy slammed her spoon on the table.

Mother shook her head, peered over her coffee cup, and pointed to Patsy’s chest. “No, you’re starting to show.”

“Show? Show what?” Patsy stared down at her chest. “I don’t see anything.”

“I can see something underneath your t-shirt,” Mother said. “You’re budding.”

Patsy scrunched up her nose. “Well, can’t we wait until I’ve bloomed?”

Mother glared down the slope of her nose at Patsy.

They would be on the Downtown Charlotte bus today.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I like this! I think it's a moment many girls can relate too (I remember being SO embarrassed when I had to get my first bra at that age). I have a good sense of Patsy's character from this snippet. All the brand names are a little jarring, though, especially since most aren't familiar to a younger reader. Consider keeping the most important ones, and saving the rest to add detail later in the story.

  3. "You're budding" - lol!

    I know MGers will relate to this. Although when I was young I couldn't wait to get a bra, but that was me.

    So far this doesn't sound like an historical fiction. Perhaps there's a way to get some reference in there to establish the setting.

    I don't know that the situation calls for her to "slam" her spoon on the table. Maybe try the opposite approach? If she's embarrassed, what might she do with her spoon?

    I like the finality of the last line off her mother's glare. I like that she can read that look.

    I'd read on for now. You do have my curiosity.

  4. I like this--but it seems like Patsy's name is used a lot, I think you could maybe remove a few and change them to "she". I'm also confused about the historical fiction part--what year is this supposed to be?

  5. I thought this had a nice MG feel to it, and getting that first bra, whether a good moment or a bad one, is always a moment.

    I agree about the brand names. They won't mean anything to your reader. Perhaps show the time period in other ways. Does milk come in a glass bottle? Is it delivered to the front door? Do they have a referigerator or an ice box? Color TV or black and white, or maybe they only have a radio?

    If you're putting her thoughts in italics, you don't need to say 'she thought.'

    The repetition of nose in the second and third last sentences stands out. ANd it seems quite a jump from the second last sentence to the last one. You may need a transition there.

  6. Oh no! "You're budding." :-)

    I agree that I don't get any feeling of the time period. It's early yet, so it's hard to say in 250 words, but I think there are probably a few details you could slip in to help ground us.

  7. Everyone else seemed to like it, so it must not be hitting my tastes. Even for a middle grade, she sounded a little young to me. Her voice, of course, not the situation. I work with 8-11 year olds and this sounds closer to the 8 yr. olds than the 11 yr. olds, though maybe I have a mature bunch of girls?

    I do agree though, that you are using Patsy's name a lot and that could be trimmed down. And you could give more hints as to what time period we're in.

    I think you have hit on a situation all girls have to go through and it sounds like the other reviewers would read on.

  8. Agree about the name usage - both Patsy's and the brand names.

    It's cute though. I wouldn't read on as it's not for me, but I think it's good:)

  9. There's a lot I like here: Patsy seems funny and self assured. I like the line "can't we wait until I've bloomed?" and from the writing, could expect more like that. I think, though, that your opening would be stronger with less detai. I'd omit things like "from the Sealtest bottle (I don't know what that is) over the mound of toasted O's, and crunched the first mouthful." Also, Patsy "feeling like someone had sunk a rock down her throat" didn't ring true to me: she hates shopping so much? ... and would prefer going with her mom to buy things for her mom than for herself? I don't know any kids like that. The extreme reaction to not wanting to go shopping with her mom would make more sense to me later after her mom has dropped the bombshell about the trip being about buying a bra.

  10. i couldn't figure out the historical fiction category, but maybe that places me farther back in history than i like to admit. i recognize all the brands, and remember waiting for those 'buds' to finally appear! patsy seems reluctant to 'become a woman' which is interesting. i want to read more! :)

  11. Cute! I love the name, Patsy. It has tons of character and it defintitely has an "old" feel to it.

    I agree with the others on some of your labels. I am sure they help date the setting, but they may not mean much to the reader.

    I'm very curious to find out what historical event or events you may get to.
    I love teaching kids history disguised as a fun novel. I'd definitely read on!

    Good luck!

  12. i agree with the comments above, so I just wanted to add (on the nitpicky side) that you use "herself" twice in the third paragraph- you might want to change one of them, particularly since they are used to describe two different people.

  13. This definitely made me cringe. But in a good way. I know how my nieces feel whenever their moms bring up bras. They get so angry and humiliated. You did a great job of showing that.

    Having said that, I don't think I'd be all that interested on reading further. No idea where this is going. There is no tension pulling me further.