12.17.2006

HH Com 136

CLAP YOUR HANDS

There is a boy named Jack who doesn’t believe in fairies.

Actually, he doesn’t believe in much of anything. After all, Jack would tell you, a chair is a chair, a house is a house, a spoon is a spoon. Believing in anything more than that wouldn’t change the fact that he has no friends. And it certainly wouldn’t change the fact that his parents, after two years of barely speaking, were finally calling it quits.

Since a separating household is no place for a child, Jack’s parents send him to Iowa to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle. His mother warns him before they enter the house that life with Aunt Mabel and Uncle Clive will be different than at home. “They . . .believe things, Jack. Things that we don’t in our house. But for god’s sake, don’t mention it while you’re there.”

Soon, Jack learns that a house is not always just a house. Some houses rearrange themselves and giggle in the middle of the night. Some houses have doors that won’t open and maps of nowhere on the walls. Some houses are hungry. And they have teeth.

As he attempts to unlock the secrets of the strange old house, the tight-lipped town, and his own inexplicable past, Jack discovers that, perhaps, there is more to believe in – and more to fear – than he could have possibly imagined.


You've wasted your query on set up. The action starts when Jack gets delivered to Iowa in the Wells Fargo Wagon. If you begin there and there's more to the story than an animated house, you might want to mention the problems he faces and what he needs to decide. Throw in a pool hall, a trombone or two, and you've got yourself a musical.

12 comments:

Dave said...

If you're going to use a phrase like "Clap Your hands" in conjunction with anything fairy-like, then you are invoking Peter Pan and all that it involves. Tinkerbell need not make an appearance, but you can't leave the reader hanging like you did.

Now the rest of you - get your minds out of the gutter. I didn't mean anything sexual in this post (!#@$@#$*!@#*"#*#@W)!!!

michaelgav said...

I liked the first paragraph a lot, and I liked the setup. I liked the third paragraph. I would read this based on those things, even though the second paragraph didn't help, and the final graph makes references to things that are not otherwise mentioned (tight-lipped town and inexplicable past). But it sounds like a good middle-school read to me.

HawkOwl said...

I didn't like your plot, but more importantly, I didn't like your little bit of dialogue, and all that talk at the beginning. It sounds fake.

Anonymous said...

I thought this sounded really cute actually. I would definitely take it off the shelf and look at it if I were in the bookstore. Also, I got the impression that CLAP YOUR HANDS was the title. If it is, I like it a lot. Good luck, author!

Inkwolf said...

After reading the Spiderwick Chronicles and Artemis Fowl, I think I'd need more to interest me than 'troubled, pragmatic boy moves to house occupied by (apparently) fairies.'

Is it fantasy or horror? Are the fairies cutesy creatures of twinkly light that need the boy to save the fairy realm, or are they traditionally arbitrary, cruel and mysterious? And to what degree are his aunt and uncle involved with them? Do they just vaguely 'believe,' maybe have seen a leprechaun or two, or are they all set to sacrifice Junior to the Sidhe in exchange for fairy gold?

My opinion is that the real trouble with this hook is that the plot hasn't been touched on at all. More info would help.

I must say that with the Peter-pan title and the unbeliever boy, this seems to me a great setting for a horror novel. But as a middle-grade fantasy book, it has some seriously fierce competition.

Kit Whitfield said...

Your hook reads like a cover blurb rather than a hook, and I agree that more information about the plot would help.

BUT - it reads like a good cover blurb. I like your style; if I was idly turning over a book with that blurb, I'd certainly read a few pages to see if I liked the contents. It sounds promising.

Angus Weeks said...

The title is neat, but you can't then follow it up with your first few sentences, because they invoke Peter Pan too strongly and make it seem you are regurgitating Barrie's ideas with nothing to add to them (unless Peter Pan really does appear in the book somewhere, in which case you need to mention it in the hook). You don't need these first few sentences at all, actually.

I was moved to comment because I enjoyed the second-last paragraph, particularly the notion of hungry houses.

Bernita said...

I really like your description of the houses.
The "inexplicable past" and "unlock the secrets" stuff is too vague and general.
Besides, one wonders how much of a "past" a young kid has.
I assume you mean his family's past.

Rei said...

Monster House.

What else would one picture after your 4th para?

Anonymous said...

I would pick this up off the bookshelf and flip through the pages, too. It sounds interesting and I like the hook, actually, even the set-up, because it sets up something normal against something that's definitely not.

Crys said...

this really caught my interest.

a lot.

Kelly Barnhill said...

Thanks, snarklings, for the comments! It is so helpful to force myself to step back from this project and see it from other perspectives. Particularly now, as I'm treading my way through revision number three.

You guys are the best! And you too, mama Snark!