Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #10

TITLE: Pygmy Hazards
GENRE: MG Adventure

Tom stared between the bars of his two-foot rectangular prison in the corner of the classroom. Close by, fellow prisoner Jerry the Third hunkered near their water bottle, chewing on a Kleenex box. There had been no brochure telling Tom what to expect when he was snapped up from the animal menagerie store two months ago. And if there was, he wouldn’t have believed it. Tom shook his head with a sigh, and then refocused on his guard duty.

Across the room, the pygmies sat in a circle on the floor, their two legs bent crisscross applesauce, as they passed around a stuffed rabbit. The giant in the ugly brown and purple striped dress at their center had a look of patience plastered on her face.

One of the pygmies, Squeezer, held the rabbit. She gave it a shake so that its long ears flung in every direction. Tom winced and fingered his own neck. “Now that I’m seven, my mommy says I’m a big girl,” Squeezer said. “And when I’m eight, I’m going to marry Joey.”

The pygmy with red hair and freckles, sat up taller. “Not happening.”

“It’s my birthday. I’ve decided,” Squeezer hissed.

The giant cleared her throat. “Please pass Mr. Flopsey, Maggie. You’ve told us all about your birthday. Now your turn is over.”

Squeezer scowled, then threw the rabbit over.

Tom turned to whisper to Jerry. “When the big hand is on the twelve and the little hand is on the three, we make a break for it, recruit.”


  1. Excellent. Perfect MG voice. Great dialog. I like Squeezer. One thing - Tom is a hamster right? So would he 'wince' and 'finger' his neck. You may need something more hamster-y like he covered his eyes with his paws and swallowed a seed whole 'gack'.

  2. It took me a few reads to understand what was going on because of the unique point-of-view, but then Wow! Great story. The dialogue is perfect for all of the characters, and the descriptions are very fitting. I love the subtle humour woven through the story. Excellent job.

  3. Oh this is different! I've always felt sorry for the little things in the cage in the corner, cooped up all night while we went home to our families and homes.
    I like the voice, and the perspective. Would love to hear what happens next! You made me giggle.
    (I like to giggle.)
    Good luck!

  4. Super! Very entertaining, and fresh. I loved the last line.

    However, like JD, I had to read the first paragraph twice to figure out what was going on. I think the first sentence needs to be tweaked a little to make it crystal-clear that Tom is a hamster (if that's what he is). Maybe mention whiskers brushing the bars of the cage.

    Also, this is nitpicky, but would a hamster understand human facial expressions (the look of patience on the teacher's face)?

  5. I like it!
    With a hamster on the front cover I don't think anyone would have a problem getting in to this and finding it very funny and charming! Particularly enjoyed the dialogue between the 'pygmies'.

  6. Aha. So that's where "Happy Hamsters" came from!

    I agree that there should be a few more species identifiers in the start, although it's pretty clear we're talking some kind of small animal.

    "Jerry the Third." Eww. There's probably an unsettling story behind Jerrys the First and Second.

    You have a lot of slack on mental capacity once you've established the fantasy trope of animals talking to each other. Theoretically, you could even have them understand English.

    Heck, in "Wind in the Willows" they wear clothes and live in houses.

    Maybe you've got the start of the "Watership Down" of hamsters!

  7. Love this! It's been awhile since I read Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, which this immediately made me think of, so I can't recall whether human actions like shaking one's head were described as such. But I think it would work fine and the voice is fantastic. Would love to read more :) Great job and good luck!

  8. This is very funny. I really like the squeezer and Jerry the third lines

  9. My son so would have loved this if he were younger (he's in 8th grade now). What a fun and imaginative story.

    Great voice too!

  10. I enjoyed this. I was halfway through it before I got what was going on, but I don't think that's an issue. You kept me reading. ANd there were lots of clever references in this short excerpt. I'd keep reading.

  11. Yes definitely I'd keep reading! If I only had a little one now to read too. Le sigh.

    I can so imagine a second or third grade teacher reading this aloud to her classroom!

  12. I was so confused about who the MC was, but when I read the comments, I got it. If I'd known it was a hamster going in, I wouldn't feel so silly.

    Definitely cute.

    My only nitpick is "Tom shook his head with a sigh, and then refocused on his guard duty." Three actions in the same sentence is a bit much, and the sentence construction is clunky. I'd change it to: "Tom shook his head and sighed. Turning from Jerry, he refocused on his guard duty." (Or something.)

  13. This is a cute way to open a story. I like the way in which you reveal the nature of Tom and Jerry (although I take a bit of issue with those rather popular names). The line about a brochure is a bit distracting, however, because in this real-world setting you've established I wouldn't expect a hamster (or whatever Tom is) to be able to read.

    On a nitpicking note, how are the children "pygmies"? From Tom's POV, wouldn't they be giants as well, and the teacher just a much larger one?

    I do like the children interactions, though. Funny AND believable!