Today we have Sharon Mayhew's first page from her MG historical fiction, NOT A HOLIDAY. Hmm, that has an ominous tone to it, don't you think? Anyway. My comments will be in purple and don't forget to go see what Dianne thought of Sharon's first page.
NOT A HOLIDAY
August 1, 1940
I flung my gas mask over my shoulder and plopped down in a kitchen chair.
“But I don’t want to carry a gas mask around all the time,” I said. Holy cow! I wouldn't either!
“It’s not a choice, Joyce, you have to. Everyone has to, from grandparents all the way down to babies.” Mummy stacked a pile of newspaper on the counter, and then dug around in the odds and end drawer.
“Well, I don’t think it’s fair that the war is coming to London. That Mister Hitler is a real rotter!” This feels a little bit like as you know, Bob, war is coming to London... I'd just leave it at a general complaint about the unfairness of life. It will become obvious quickly that we're in the midst of WWII.
“I think everyone in England would agree with you on that, Love.” Mummy brushed her long auburn hair out of her eyes. “But right now I need you to show Gina carrying your gas mask is all right and not fuss about it. Imagine how grateful you’ll be to have it, if something horrible happens.”
“I still don’t like it.” I scratched the back of head and thought about Gina being scared of bombs and gas masks. “I’m going to make Dolly a little gas mask box. That should make it less scary for Gina.” Dolly was special to Gina, she was her only doll. Gran gave her to Gina on her last birthday.
“That’s a wonderful idea!” You can make it while I’m getting the house ready in case the air raids start.” I wonder if she wouldn't just say raids.
I found a matchbox, a roll of sticky tape, the crayons, and some string in the odds and ends drawer. I separated the matchbox into two parts. I cut off a piece of string and taped it to the inside of the outside part of the matchbox, then I slid the drawer part back in. I colored Dolly’s gas mask box blue. Gina liked blue and it covered up the words on the matchbox.
Gina came in the kitchen carrying Dolly.
“Look what I made for Dolly.” I held up the tiny gas mask box.
“Oh! Now, Dolly will be safe too.” Gina slipped the gas mask box over Dolly’s shoulder, gave me a cuddle and then plopped down in the chair next to me.
Ok. so I have to say I am not the best person to crit MG. I don't read a whole lot of it so I don't have much to go by but what I remember reading a million years ago. But character has always come first for me and I think if I was still in grade school I'd like Gina. She's annoyed by the stupid masks they have to wear, finds the war an inconvenience (probably because she doesn't know or can't conceive of how awful war truly is), and is nice to her little sister. She feels like a real girl (not perfect) and knowing a war is coming definitely makes me worry for her and her little sister. I think if I was MG I would read on.
Now, what about you? Care to offer Sharon any advice? You know we love comments around here so don't be shy!