Our second First Impression comes from Mike Hays.here, and to see what author Dianne Salerni thought of this first page, head over to her place. Here is page one of Ninja Squirrels of the One Hundred Acre Wood, Book One, an MG fantasy.
“The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour.”
I. The Wood, Bees, and a Bear
It was one of those beautiful days when all seems good in the world. The sun filtered through the trees and, in the open meadow, the rays danced along the waves of grass. Two black squirrels ran down a gravel bank toward a lazy creek, one chasing after the other. The leader's tail swished and bounced in the bright sunshine as it bounded to the edge of the creek and jumped to a gray stone several feet off the bank. The squirrel hopped from stone to stone over the water until it reached the other side.
The second squirrel followed across the smooth stones of the creek bed and onto the opposite shore, where both squirrels raced toward a thick wood. They spiraled up a tree trunk and jumped to a branch of the adjoining tree, racing in the branches across the canopy. The second squirrel matched each twist, turn, and leap with near perfect precision. From tree to tree, they moved with grace and ease until they reached the last tree at the edge of the wood.
The first squirrel dove down the trunk and bounded into an open field of tall grass. It stopped just past the edge of the tree's shadow line and hid in the thick, deep grass. As the bushy black tail disappeared into the grass, its black head popped up and scanned the open ground. The squirrel looked across the meadow at a grove of pine trees with a single oak tree in the middle. The second squirrel move alongside.
“By the way, I’m Konran, Kon to my friends,” the lead squirrel said, swinging its tail around and tapping the other squirrel on the shoulder.
The second squirrel repeated the tail tap. “I’m Kuji.”
Kon looked Kuji up and down. “Master Jonin says you’re the one,” he said with a wary look.
Kuji shrugged. “I don’t know nothing about any of that. This is where I was told to go
at the Academy. ‘Meet a black squirrel at
the creek crossing around midday’ was all they told me.” He looked toward the
pine grove. "Is that it?" he asked.
Kon nodded his head. "Yep, that's it, headquarters. Kuji, welcome to the One Hundred Acre Wood."
"Better close that mouth of yours before a bug flies in there." Kon jumped into the grass and bounced in the direction of the pine trees. "Race you there!"
"Hey! Wait!" Kuji yelled, chasing across the deep grass. "I have no idea where I'm going."
First impression: for an MG fantasy, it takes too long to get to the two squirrels talking - imo. There's also some awkward phrasing which confused me, some of it caused by the use of the pronoun it. If eventually the squirrels will be referred to as he/she, I might start now. Overall, I think if the first three paragraphs could be condensed so we get to the meeting sooner, that way we get to meet our main character sooner.
On the positive side, I LOVE the first line. I can feel what kind of day it is. I also love how the squirrels are described and any revising of the paragraphs must include all those great adjectives like swished, bounced, ran, raced, etc. I really got a sense of them acting exactly like squirrels - and I happen to like squirrels! Lastly, I would definitely read on because I want to see how the bees and bear come into this chapter!
What do you guys think? I'd especially like to hear from those of you who read MG as I don't read enough to consider myself an expert by a long shot. Plus, you know we love comments and comments help authors get better!
See you Wednesday with our last First Impression for July :)