Monday, December 17, 2012

Hangover Round 1 Entry #35

TITLE: Rules of Rodentia 
GENRE: MG Fantasy

The forest is extra scary when you’re one inch tall. That’s why Tobin has studied the Rules of Rodentia since the day he sprouted fur. Now to save his family, he'll venture deeper into the woods than any mouse before, with the help of the Rules and an unlikely serpent ally guiding the way.

Crouched in perfect stillness beneath a toadstool, Tobin recalled his training. He knew the Rules like the back of his paw. It was no accident he was top Seed-finder for junior mice two seasons in a row.  So traveling this familiar patch of forest was simple as scratching a flea. 
Tobin concentrated on the final leg of his journey home. The Great Burrow loomed just ahead. Shaped like a giant tortoise shell, the burrow possessed dozens of hidden entrances. It was very important to use different paths and different entrances back inside.
Rule #7- A predictable path provides easy pickings for a predator.
Tobin spied a route he hadn’t taken in a while.
Next, his mind ticked through the age-old checklist taught to all young mice, the second-most important rule in all of Rodentia:
Rule #2- Always survey your surroundings before setting a paw in the open.
Scan for hawks.
Done. Clear skies.
Scan for ground predators. 
No trembling grass. The smells in the air are safe; clover and honeysuckle.
 The muscles in his hind legs twitched.
Tobin burst from beneath the toadstool, darting a zig, then zag— enough to throw off a pouncing bobcat or swooping bird. With a giant leap he dived inside the safe confines of the Great Burrow. 
He blinked, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the dark tunnels. Only then did he tread home on slow paws. Nothing but chaos waited at his family’s den. Well, nothing but chaosand a new sibling.


  1. I have nothing negative to say. I truely like this beginning. It made me smile as I remembered my childhood favorites like Ralph S Mouse, or The Secret of Nymh.
    I would read further.

  2. I love the title and think the logline is good and have always been partial to mouse stories! I would change the first line which might enhance the tension - "Tobin crouched beneath a toadstool, recalling his recent training." It could be tightened a bit to pick up the pace. "Tobin burst from the toadstool, cutting back and forth to avoid any pouncing bobcat or swooping bird" "He blinked, his eyes adjusting to the dark tunnels". I would read more and wish you the best of luck!

  3. The second line of the logline seems stuffed, but I like the info presented. Maybe: "To save his family, he must go deep into the dread forest with only his Rodentia know-how, and an unreliable snake, as a guide."

    Despite my quibbling, I love the tone and the premise. Pacing is good. There may be some grammatical snafus but I'm no grammarian. Maybe switch out "for" for "amongst" after Seed-finder? The smells in the air "were" safe (colon): clover and honeysuckle.

    I know 250 is short, but a hint to his feeling about the new sibling would help.

    All in all, I would buy this for my kid and read it myself.

  4. I really liked this. It made me think of "Despereaux."

    I agree with what the other commenters have said, and just have one nitpicky thing to add. Don't mice usually have more than one baby at a time - like 6 or 7 in a litter? And multiple litters a year? It kind of pulled me out of the story a bit to hear the reference to "a new sibling." Just something to think about.

    Otherwise I liked it. Good luck.

  5. Oh my. I'm so sorry I can't say anything to help - this was fabulous!

  6. This was really lovely, and the 'Rules' add a nice punch to it. I don't have any suggestions - I'd read on in a heartbeat :)

  7. I enjoyed this selection. The last paragraph didn't have quite the punch/excitement the rest of the page had...maybe because it's doing more telling than showing.

    For the logline, I think you need to clarify what he has to save his family from--what exactly are the stakes?

    Sounds like an interesting animal adventure story and as a reader of MG books, I'd probably read on.

  8. THANK YOU all so much! Great suggestions, and it's so nice to hear what worked. I love the idea of "dread forest" in the log line. Very cool. I can certainly streamline the open a bit. As for the last paragraph-- maybe I could punch that up a bit and get a way from the "telly-ness" by show his nerves about getting the weather report in on time.

    Thank you all again!

  9. I think this is charming, and adorable. I'm rooting for him, and love the perspective of the tall grass, looking for hawks above, the toadstools. Is a word missing (darting a zig, then [a] zag)? Would junior mice be capitalized, as it seems to be a group name? Also, this seems a little younger than Middle Grade to me, but I am not an expert. I really think this story is so charming, and quickly hooks me. I'd read on.

  10. I enjoyed the selection and agree with many of the prior comments. I do wonder, though, if you might want to expand your narrator's breadth of knowledge. To me, it seems as if the narrator has a very limited viewpoint. I'm seeing what Tobin is doing and, to some extent, thinking, but not what he's feeling. The 3rd person narration can work, but I think we could be more involved as readers if we know a bit more about what's on his mind.

    Good luck!

  11. I love this story! Charming and packed with adventure from the get go. The litter size doesn't bother me a bit. I'd love to read this with my kids and wish you the best of luck.