12.15.2006

HH Com 29

One afternoon Shirley Temple Stone clobbers Richie Parsons on the nose with a hardcover novel in the middle of the Summerville Public Library. It doesn't seem like the solid basis for a friendship yet the middle-schoolers--through the diary of long-lost Professor Phillip Nightingale--soon find themselves at the center of a mystery involving a hidden notebook once belonging to Leonardo da Vinci. Middle grade novel Leonardo's Secret takes the reader from the Renaissance, to Italy after the Second World War, up to contemporary time. Librarian Mrs. Goodwin leads Richie and Shirley Temple to clues about the missing Renaissance work but then must protect them from an unscrupulous scholar who's come to steal it. The only catch is this man also happens to be Shirley Temple's father, Jacob Stone. All will vie to discover or conceal the truth behind Leonardo's secret.


(that's the end of your hook)


Yesterday Richie Parsons had returned his very overdue books-- Football Stars of the 1970's and Extreme Board Game Review--to the library.
"Dude, they're gonna make you clean out trash cans!" his best friend Jackson Gomez whispered to him in the cafeteria. Jack's eyes darted left and right.
"I don't know what they'll make me do," Richie said, biting into a ketchup-soaked fry.
"I heard a bully girl hangs out there and she like eats sixth-graders for snack!" Jack said.
"Who told you that?" Richie asked with a gulp. Maybe he could just quit school, escape to South America and grow a beard.

(I'm not sure what this -first page?)

Second winner.

30 comments:

Rei said...

A punctuation error between the second and third words of the hook isn't a problem? Of a type (commaphobia) that is repeated throughout the hook? I guess I've overvalued the importance of good grammar in these. I'm also surprised that the similarities with The DaVinci Code aren't a problem, or that there is little development of the characters beyond their names.

On the other hand, the plot is spelled out well. It could be interesting.

randomsome1 said...

I propose a moratorium to all things Da Vinci. Da Vinci diet, da Vinci tours, da Vinci puzzles and notebooks and t-shirts and ten thousand ripoffs . . .

Whatever happened to Monet?

Anonymous said...

rei: don't be pissed because you were exed ;]

Anonymous said...

...takes the reader from the Renaissance, to Italy after the Second World War, up to contemporary time.

This drove me nuts. We get time, then time + place, then time. Renaissance where? Italy, presumably, but we could also be talking about 16th-century England. Contemporary time where?

Anonymous said...

At least this author knows to say "Leonardo" instead of "Da Vinci." Definite points for that.

A Paperback Writer said...

Wow. I guess I'll never make it if this is what sells. I had to read this hook 5 times before I understood it, and I still doubt I'd ever read a book (I read plenty of middle school books) that had yet another DaVinci plot mixed with a character named after Shirley Temple.
Okay, my hook is going to get ripped to pieces if this is what I was supposed to produce. Oh well, rip away. I'm glad I didn't produce this.

Dave said...

The use of the name - Shirley Temple - is a little confusing for me.

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to "fresh and new?" Miss Snark, forgive me for my Impertinence, but did you read The DaVinci Code? The unscrupulous scholar who just happens to be Shirley's dad? Is this a bit familiar?

Anonymous said...

Monet is cool but da Vinci is interesting.
Love,
the author

Rei said...

Anonymous 1:

If you'll check the other winners, you'd find that I've complimented a number of them. This one, however, I just don't get why it was chosen.

Apparently, I'm not the only one.

Don't you have anything better to do than try to pick fights?

Anonymous said...

rei,
the grapes taste sour, eh? And by the way, how many kids, ages 9-12 are just so sick of that Leonardo da Vinci by now?? Tons I bet...or not. Lot's of vineagar tonight, ay friends?

Anonymous said...

Paperback is a bitter gal this eve. Sad, really. Why can't people pull for each other?

Anonymous said...

Help I have commaphobia!! Bleargh!! ,,, Ahh! there they are again!

HawkOwl said...

You know how they edit Bible stories to make them more accessible to kids? This is the kids' Da Vinci Code. No idea why Miss Snark picked it. And really, no offence, Miss Snark, but I thought you were planning on telling us why things work for you.

Anonymous said...

I guess if the public will buy derivative crap like this then a good agent will too. Yes, I'm just jealous because my submission is rubbish and she's going to murder it. Whoever sent this one in - good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, my batting average is in the pits.

I didn't like this. I don't like adults leading kids to the clues.

The DaVinci aspect doesn't seem fresh at all (in mid-grade literature it would not be the DaVinci Code--but Blue Balliett, and her Chasing Vermeer, and then The Wright 3).

I was also bothered by the lack of commas. And the disconnect in the narrative: why aren't we looking for the long-lost professor?

This just seemed confusing to me.

But congrats to the author. Send in those pages.

M. Takhallus. said...

Sorry, Miss Snark is wrong. This is "mommy voice" kidlit. Kids run the action, not some librarian. Say the word "librarian" and nine out of ten kids fall asleep. In kidlit avoid the urge to put yourself in the action: there's reason Disney always kills off the mother.

December Quinn said...

I liked the Shirley Temple name but agree I wouldn't pick this up. Leonardo wasn't the only artist. He wasn't the only interesting one, either.

befuddled said...

Oh, please--NOT another da Vinci secrets plot. And it was not only stale, it was almost incoherent. Why did Miss Snark like this? Why?

MichaelPH said...

People, this is for kids! Dan Brown wasn't exactly writing his wordy tome for fifth graders, was he? Come on, didn't Miss Snark give any of you a CLUE? She liked it because it has conflict and is a good HOOK. From what I'm reading on this Crapometer, not alot of you get it. Drink from the clue-pail 'fore the gin-pail next time, bitter people.

Anonymous said...

This proves there is a Dan Brown epidemic. I am seeing books left in right with this very same premise and badly done.

Someone please call the CDC.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is a hook, but I wouldn't read it.

MWT said...

I have to agree with the other people who are confused about why this one was picked. I'm not seeing it either, even after getting past the technical flaws. Would love to see Miss Snark come back and explain it at some point (after the hook winnowing is over, perhaps; maybe while she's snarking the actual pages).

For people who are saying "you're just jealous" to everyone - I don't have an entry in this crapometer and have nothing to be jealous about. I'm just reading along for the education.

Katharine Swartz said...

Regarding the librarian leaving clues not working, what about the Magic Treehouse series? I don't think you can ever say definitively whether something will work or not. If it's done well, almost anything can work. And sell.

Ski said...

I really like the first part. If you wrote the story that way - I'd buy it.

Rgds..........Ski

wind-up-bird said...

I rather agree with michaelph: I suspect the appeal here is more that it has good pacing, doesn't give away too much of the plot, lets slip enticing (though I use the word loosely here) details, explains the relationship between the main characters, has motivation/conflict/etc.

I doubt I would read it, but that's just me---though I agree with the anonymous comment about correct use of "Leonardo."

The crapometer is wonderfully entertaining: it's given me such a great break from grading grunt-work. And I'm learning loads. Hats off to MS and the dedicated commenters.

Virginia Miss said...

Congrats, author! Looks interesting.
Your "hook" is straightforward. The first sentence is cute, you've got a boy and girl duo, and a father as the conflict. Good stuff.

One thing bothered me: you mention the LIBRARIAN must protect them -- in order to interest kids (and a children's editor), the kids have to be in charge of the action, not following behind a leader.

Also, fix your comma usage before submitting.

Good luck.

M. Takhallus. said...

Katharine:

Magic Tree House is pretty long in the tooth now. Same with Magic Schoolbus. They're previous generation. Middle reader series are divided into Pre-Goosebumps and post-Goosebumps. Parents were never around in Bumps, Animorphs, Lemony Snicket, Dark Materials, Harry Potter etc... The presence of parents (or librarians) skews the series younger -- too young for Leonardo.

It's not a fatal flaw. Just lose the librarian. No offense but it's like making grandma central to the series.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... Grandma, a Witchaphile, was central to "WITCHES" written by Roald Dahl.

And I didn't know Miss Snark was interested in Middle Grade.

Haste yee back ;-)

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark is "interested" in good writing, middle grade on up, if you've bothered to read this site any time in the past.