Friday, October 3, 2014

First Impressions - The Pet Connection

Today we have the first page of THE PET CONNECTION, a humorous contemporary MG submitted by Rebecca Anderson (MG Binders Member).

Badger Jacobs didn’t think he was an especially lucky person. So he wasn’t listening to the intercom as Principal Tessie called off the students who would participate in the Pet Connection game show. Instead Badger was picking at a hangnail on his left pointer finger.
        All around a chorus of voices quietly chanted, “Please, oh please, oh please, oh please ...” Out of the corner of his eye, Badger saw Lisa Ling with her eyes closed and hands folded in silent prayer.  From behind him, he heard Lance Swag brag, “I know she’s going to call my name.  My mom is head of the PTA.”  Badger rolled his eyes. Lance always got what he wanted including the best shoes, all the video game systems and a gold iPhone.
        The voice over the intercom continued, “The second fifth grade student will be Omar Ahmed.” There was a collective groan in the room and Badger felt Lance kick the back of his chair. Badger thought it must be rough for Lance to experience disappointment for the first time.
        Their teacher, Miss Rockford, held a finger up to her lips and motioned that everyone should continue listening. Badger went back to tugging on the hangnail. He didn’t need to hear the names of the 6th graders who would participate.  Maybe next year he’d finally get chosen.  Maybe next year he’d finally hear his name called out.
        “... and that student is Bryan Jacobs.” At the sound of his name, Badger’s whole body jerked in surprise.  Unfortunately, that included the fingers that had been toying with the hangnail and he yanked off a hunk of skin, leaving a quarter-inch gash.  (This sentence feels awkward here, interrupts the rhythm of the rest of the paragraph - imo.) At the same time, every head in his class turned to look at him.  He saw Lisa’s eyes stray towards his bleeding finger and Badger covered it with his opposite thumb.  What was going on?  Why had Principal Tessie had called his name?  Weren’t there were only two fifth grade contestants.  She had already called both of them, right?
        Badger held his thumb on his bleeding finger as Principal Tessie finished talking over the intercom.  “I’m so excited to see how the lucky contestants combine the wisdom of words, the power of pets and a little bit of magic. Teachers, please send the contestants down to my office.  I’ll have them back to you before next period.”

My thoughts:  My first thought is that this is a pretty darn clean first page. Aside from where I marked, the only other spot that gave me pause was the last sentence of the previous paragraph. I was expecting Badger to be thinking how there was no way he'd ever get chosen due to the fact he isn't lucky. But that's minor. Really, I liked this a whole lot. A lot of questions are set up in this first page, like, why is his nickname Badger? And why doesn't he think he's especially lucky? What has led him to believe this? Did the principal mean real magic? And what the heck is this Pet Connection game?! I would definitely be turning the page to find out.

Readers, what did you think? And if you want to know what Dianne Salerni thought of this same first page, head over to her place :)


  1. I thought it was a solid opening. Curious about the Pet Connection.

  2. Not a big deal, but I did get caught up on the name Lisa Ling just because she's a well-known person. Though, yeah, the average MG reader probably wouldn't know her. :P

  3. I would definitely keep turning the pages. Pet connection? More please. Magic? Ditto.

  4. Yikes. The hangnail part made me wince!!!

  5. I didn't like the bleeding part....

  6. I love it! Funny and silly with a great voice and characterization - perfect for MG! Good luck!

  7. Kudos to Rebecca for bravely submitting to public critique.


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