Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May Secret Agent #15

TITLE: Nigel and Duncan: Not Quite Extinct
GENRE: Middle-Grade Fiction

Duncan flipped the page of his ParameciMan comic book with growing excitement. He shifted his tail and dug his toe claws into the sofa, snagging the embroidered slipcover. The latest issue of ParameciMan had arrived by the early post and it was a good one. AmoebaReba was planning her worst assault ever on ParameciMan. Would he discover her evil plot in time?

“Duncan!” Nigel said, looking up from his spool knitting. “You’re wrecking the furniture! Do you need a scratching post?”

“I’m not a cat.” Duncan scowled. Duncan was a citizen, a contributing member of society. True, he was a dinosaur and therefore not human, strictly speaking, but he was most certainly not a pet.

Duncan took a sugar cube to comfort himself.

“Duncan! You’ll rot your teeth and make yourself sick. I’m telling Nanny Bea.”

Duncan looked over his shoulder quickly, but Nanny Bea was in the kitchen.

“I only eat brown cubes,” said Duncan virtuously. “They’re healthy.” He added under his breath, “ Fink.”

Nigel glanced at the dictionary he kept open beside him on the side table. “You just helped me pick the perfect word of the day. Duncan, you’re puerile.”

Duncan flicked his tail in annoyance. “Nigel, what do you call a Pectosaurus that nags and nags and nags?”


“A Dino-bore!”

It was Nigel’s turn to scowl. Duncan giggled. Dino-score! Joke of the day beat word of the day, any day. He grabbed the bowl of peanuts from the coffee table. Winning made him hungry.


  1. I chuckled a few times - okay, I totally scrolled back to this story as I scrolled to the first entry to start reading as soon as I saw "dino-bore" - my kiddo's class is called the dinosaurs and her teacher loves dinosaurs, and the kiddo loves a Pun.

    So far I like this a lot - it's cute and original. I'm a little confused about who Nigel is (his person? another dino?) but it's only the first 250, so I get that.

  2. To be honest I'm a little confused on this one. I think there are several creative elements that really work for you, but there are others that throw me a bit.

    I don't love anything I can't pronounce, and I have no idea what to do with ParameciMan.

    Also, I agree that I don't fully grasp if Nigel is human or not (Pectosaurus is not something I'm familiar with).

    I am, however, very intrigued by Nigel (whatever he is) knitting. I think that's a fun element.

  3. First off...I LOVE your title, it made me smile.

    I stumbled on the ParameciMan word and I think a MG'er will have a hard time with it.

    I like the image of 'spool knitting' however, once I got to the end of the 250, I still wasn't sure if Nigel was also a dinosaur?

    “I only eat brown cubes,” said Duncan virtuously. “They’re healthy" - this sounds like something I would say LOL

    Overall, I think with a little tweaking you have a great premise here and your of to a fantastic start. You have humor and an original story here..I would definitely read on!!

    Well done!

  4. Cute! This is certainly a different take on the usual kid-centered MG novel. We find out Duncan is a dinosaur, but don't know for sure if Nigel is something other than a human boy (although the title implies he is, and Duncan makes a joke about a Pectosaurus nag).

    I'd save the tail-shifting and nail-digging until the end of the first paragraph and say: "Duncan was so eager to find out that he shifted his tail in excitement and dug his claws into the sofa..."

    You could eliminate one of the "Duncan"s by saying: "HE took a sugar cube (from a bowl on the coffee table) to comfort himself" and putting it at the end of the third one.

    Eliminate another Duncan by adding the brown cube paragraph to the previous one and saying: "I only eat brown cubes," HE said virtuously...

    Love dino-bore and dino-score! Kids will, too.

    If you mention the coffee table when you talk about the sugar, you can eliminate it in the next to the last line and say: He grabbed the bowl of peanuts that was next to the sugar bowl.

  5. Nice flow and very amusing.

    I like the "Only I eat brown cubes..." line. A fun way to teach kids refined sugar isn't good for you.

    I don't think the "Winning made him hungry" line is necessary. You showed it by grabbing the peanuts.

    The first paragraph was a bit of a tongue twister. If you relieved one of the Parameciman, it would flow better.

    Nice work.

    Good luck!

  6. Everyone like dinosaurs, and there were some fun elements here, a bit of brotherly competitiveness, but this felt more like a chapter book to me, and there's no hint of a story. Perhaps try working that onto your first page.

  7. I love the idea of dino protagonists for an m.g. (I think this piece would be especially suited to illustration). Duncan identifying himself as a dinosaur is a bit confusing however, as it suggests Nigel is something other than. The line about Duncan being a citizen is also a bit confusing. Are citizenship and dinosaur-ness somehow related? Will citizenship become an important theme?

    I also wondered whether there would be humans in this story, and what their relationships are to dinosaurs. Duncan's interpretation suggests that dinosaurs are second-class citizens (he's "not quite human" as opposed to "at least he wasn't human"). Is this the case?