Monday, October 6, 2014

First Impressions - Squatch Watch

Our final First Impression for this month comes from Michelle L. Brown who has written two books for Razorbill (By the Grace of Todd-Feb. 14, In Todd We Trust-March 15.) You can find her on twitter: This is the first page of her MG humorous adventure novel, SQUATCH WATCH.

 If you’re going to be the first human to interview Bigfoot, you need bait. Great first line.
            But my bait had a sore throat. Rodney, the other founding member of the Junior Squatch Watcher’s Society, was the best Sasquatch caller in the whole state of Washington. Now that Rodney was raspy, I was stuck with my kid sister, LuEllen, who didn’t even believe in Bigfoot. Conditions were ripe for a Squatch sighting, though, so I couldn’t be picky.
            “Hurry up and put this on,” I said, handing her the Squatch suit.
            She sniffed. “Leo, I am not wearing that thing. What’s on it, dog hair?”
            “Precisely. (I'm not sure an American MG kid would use the word precisely - a Brit might.) I gathered clippings from Mom’s clients, then glued them to these coveralls. This suit is just the right Bigfoot blend of grays and blacks. Sheepdogs and schnauzers, mostly.”
            “You mean this came off the floor of the Triple P?”
            “Lu, you’re an eight-year-old Einstein. Isn’t that what I just said? Now put it on. You know you owe me.”
             I’d been doing all her chores in our garage, better known as the Pampered Pup Parlor, for the last two months to build my collection of dog hair. Of course, I hadn’t told the Kidster or Mom the reason I’d morphed into Mr. Helpful.
             LuEllen slid her skinny body into the suit. “You know I’m only doing this to prove you wrong.” She pulled a fur-covered ski mask over her frizzy blonde braids. “Ugh! What’s that awful smell?”
            “Sasquatch scent,” I said, squirting her with my mister. “It’s my own special blend of sweaty socks, rotten potatoes, and pickle juice. Mixed with wet dog hair, you’ll smell perfect!”
            “Now swing your arms when you walk, like this.” I swung my long arms in classic Sasquatch style.
            She flapped like a chicken on fire.
            “Bend your knees, and twist your hips while you take giant steps.” This time I went slower, doing my best Bigfoot swagger straight of the old 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film I’d been studying.
            LuEllen tried and face planted. “The pant legs are too long,” she whined. “I’m a lot shorter than Rodney.”
            “Never mind the walk.” The moon was up, and the man-beasts would be on the move. I  shouldered my backpack and switched on my headlamp. Then I grabbed LuEllen by her furry glove and led her a little way into the Umatilla Forest that bumped up to our back yard. We came to a clearing where I’d seen lots of deer. “I’ll spread the peanut butter sandwiches in a wide circle around this stump, then take my position in that bush. You sit here and try to look like a helpless baby Bigfoot. Hmm, I wonder how this night is going to end...

My thoughts: Aside from the two places I marked, this read very smoothly and the voice seemed right on for an MG narrator. I also thought this was a fun first page and the idea of trying to interview Bigfoot seems like it would appeal to MG boys. However, Dianne Salerni is a much better judge of the MG genre than I am so do pop over to see what she had to say. Meanwhile I hope my MG readers will chime in and offer their thoughts.

Thanks a bunch to Michelle and everyone else who either submitted a first page or offered a comment. And if you would like to have your first page critiqued, just check out my sidebar for the FAQs. We still have spots left for November.


  1. Hope Bigfoot likes peanut butter.
    Great setup for a story!

  2. It's a great premise! I commented over at Dianne's blog, so I'll just say here that was a good catch about the word "precisely". I'd have to agree now, but I didn't notice it myself.

  3. I'm not an MG reader, but I loved this. Had one minor (really minor) comment...and I left it over at Dianne's.

    1. Replying here because I'm having issues posting my comment.

      Thanks so much to Marcy and everyone who commented. I totally agree that "precisely" sounds more British than US.Great catch on that-why it pays to put yourself out there and get "fresh eyes!"

  4. What a fun first page! Nice critique too. :) The title of the book is perfect for MG as well as the book!

  5. Absolutely loved it. Such a good flow. I wonder how the night is going to end too. :)


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