Monday, December 17, 2012

Hangover Round 1 Entry #38

TITLE: The Re-Education of Christopher Parker the Third
GENRE: realistic middle grade

Christopher Parker III, a popular, third-generation Fletcher Academy student, thrives until his father’s unethical decisions devastate the family finances, forcing Christopher to trade his elite prep school for public middle school. There, Christopher accepts an uneasy alliance with T.J., a fun-loving, street-smart skateboarder. Christopher plots re-entry to the school he loves. Ultimately, Christopher revises his definitions of both success and friendship.
    “Was that great, or what?”

    Edward high-fived me as we settled onto Fletcher Academy’s front steps.  “Man, you know it!” 

      That my best friend and I had been elected 7th grade representatives to Fletcher’s Council of 24, aka the “Double Dozen,” was outstanding.   Guys said I was a shoo-in, but somehow Edward shot past everybody else to grab the second seat.  Now we’d both lead the school with the upperclassmen.  Even Dad hadn’t been elected until his freshman year at Fletcher.

      Reliving the meeting, neither of us noticed Edward’s mom pull up until she 
tapped the horn.  Mrs. Tate called to me.

      “Need a ride, Christopher?”

      “Thanks, but Mom’s coming.”

      Grabbing his gear, Edward pointed down the school driveway.
      “Isn’t that your housekeeper?” then, “See you tomorrow.”

       Why would Juanita be picking me up?

      “Where’s Mom?” I asked, getting in.

      “She’s tied up with, um, a meeting.” Quickly, she added, “How was your day?” 

      I replayed the Double Dozen highlights. 

      “So much responsibility for someone so young,” she said when I finished.

      “I’ve been preparing for this all my life,” I began.  “I can handle…” 

      Suddenly, Juanita slammed on the brakes.  Her arm flew across my chest.  
Luckily, my seatbelt kicked in, saving me from smashing her arm against the dash.

      A line of kids in gray hoodies sped by on skateboards.  

      “Querido Jesús!” Juanita’s hand flew to her heart.  

      The last skateboarder must have seen her reaction.  He bowed as he passed, then called, “Sor-ry!” 

      “Jerk!” I said.


  1. Okay, totally hooked! The logline's a bit long, but it works for me. It could be tightened some, but it's good.

    For some reason I can't place my finger on, I thought this read a bit awkward:

    "That my best friend and I had been elected 7th grade representatives to Fletcher’s Council of 24, aka the “Double Dozen,” was outstanding. Guys said I was a shoo-in, but somehow Edward shot past everybody else to grab the second seat."

    I think I don't like it starting with "That", and it should be "The guys", instead of "Guys", which I first took to be a guy named Guys.

    But I love MG fiction (big Sammy Keyes and Molly Moon fan- some of us never grow up) and I truly love what's going on here. Great job and I hope to see more!

    1. Great catch on recasting that sentence, DJ. Thanks for that comment and for the support. I appreciate it!

  2. I second DJ on every count. I really think the logline is well-written and a good hook. The last two sentences could be combined into one. I think you could just say 'devastate the family' (unethical financial decisions probably would have financial implications, and with the information that follows, you may not need it.

    I also agree regarding use of "Guys". "The guys" would work just fine, and I don't think you'd lose anything. The only other edit i would make is to lose "at Fletcher" (end of first paragraph) and "and then, "See you tomorrow"." I realize he's leaving, so maybe you could say, as he got in the car, Edward pointed..." Then the housekeeper line (which is great, telling SO much) would work just fine.

    Lastly, I hope that the section where the boy says "Sorry" and then Christopher (whose name we learn so far only in the logline, right?) calls him a "jerk", sets up one way in which Christopher will grow and change through this novel. (Does the housekeeper defend the boy at all in the lines that follow?)

    I don't mean to go on about these miniscule edits when the pace, the telling, the set up, the threat of things on the precipice of change, so much about this is great. This story works so well. Again, another shocker for me this wasn't picked for Baker's Dozen, like so many of these entries. Great stuff. Truly.

    1. Pam,
      Thanks so much. I especially appreciate the detail of the comments. The vote of confidence is also a big help. I'm hoping that a few days off at Christmas will have me moving from early edits through to the final chapters of my rewrite. Your comments will help to move me in the right direction.

  3. Ditto! Tighten the logline, make a few word selection changes, and I think this is good to go. You've set up the potential for something dramatic, bringing lots of change, and I'd turn the page.

    1. I appreciate your assist, Samantha. Thanks so much.