Thursday, April 28, 2016

Are You Hooked? Middle Grade #15

TITLE: Devils in the Air
GENRE: MG - Fantasy

The desert scorch rapped its tongue over Casablanca, causing Moroccans to fan themselves with large straw hats and sponging their necks. Twelve-year-old Anis Mimouni left the mosque after noon prayer, closing the heavy wooden door behind him.

His wet hands sizzled as he unfolded a piece of paper clutched in his pocket. His pointy Moroccan hoodie fell over his eyes and he folded the front part over his brow. Magic vibrated in his hands, like static that coursed through his veins. He squinted to be able to read the piece of paper: All junior apprentices to report in the library with their key.

“Ouch, no key!” He waved one hand in the air to let the magic fall to earth. “Gee, I never got one of those before. I can’t believe graduation is one key away.”  
He stared at the paper, but nothing mentioned a way out. His fingers left a wet mark on the paper before he tucked it inside his jellaba. He lifted up his ankle length cotton robe and slipped into his babouches. The heelless slippers cracked as the leather stretched.

A dust devil swirled around, churning the desert sand on the battered ground.

“Little devil yee. What are you looking for?”

Anis ran after it, stamping and finally pinned it down.

“That’s right,” he said, “You return to the hell fire where you came from.”
The ground waved under the heat and gathered a second time into another dust devil that kicked the sand all around. Anis ran after it, then stopped when someone waved at him: a beggar.

The beggar sat in a pile of dust, the stripes of his jellaba tucked under his legs in a pile of clothes. He lifted a tin in Anis’s direction, demanding attention.


  1. In the opening sentence, should it be "wrapped" instead of "rapped?" I believe "and sponge their necks" is more grammatical than "and sponging their necks."

    Once Anis has the devil pinned and says to return to hell, it's not clear what happens to the first devil before the second arrives.

    Other than that the writing is solid. It might be worth adding in more description of what a dust devil looks like.

  2. There were only a couple phrases that stuck out to me as sounding more "adult," and those were "ankle-length cotton robe" (maybe something more like "a robe that ran down to his ankles") and when the beggar "demands attention."

    I admit I got a little confused when he mentions the key. I'm not sure what he's talking about regarding it, and what he means by being "one key away." In other words, I find myself more confused than grounded.

    Hope I helped. Good luck with this!

  3. I had a little bit of trouble figuring out what was going on. You have him leaving the mosque, a key, dirt devils, and a beggar. I wonder if it would help to simplify and have our focus be on just one of those things. In the first sentence, both verbs should agree: causing Moroccans to fan themselves with large straw hats and sponging their necks. Maybe change "sponging" to Moroccans fan and sponge. Also, if this is close to his POV, he wouldn't think so much about his clothes (his pointy hooded...heelless slippers). I wonder who is is talking to when he says "Gee, I never got one of those before. I can’t believe graduation is one key away.” It might be better to put this in italics and have it be a thought. It seems as if he is saying it for the benefit of the reader -- and maybe not something he would naturally say out loud to no-one in particular. Does he have a friend there? I'm intrigued by the setting, and I really like the image of him chasing dirt devils.