Entry 10 – JENNY PAGE-JUMPER

Title: Jenny Page-Jumper
Genre: MG Fantasy
Word Count: 47,000

Query:

Book-obsessed fifth-grader, Jenny, just wants to be left alone with a good book.  She can’t be bothered with things like Math or other lowly schoolwork.  This comfortable life ends when the adults in her school decide to “help” her.  That help lands her in the principal’s office, and causes her to parents to yell at each other when they think she isn’t listening.  Suddenly, it’s not enough to just read the books; she needs a real escape.  She finds her hiding place in the words of Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet.  The scenery and creatures of the Canadian wilderness become her comfort, but it’s all real this time.  Too real.  Every single tree.  The cold, the danger, and the hunger tormenting her are proof.     

JENNY PAGE-JUMPER is a 47,000 word MG fantasy about a fifth grader who magically transports into the books she reads.  It may be a thrilling ability, but it’s going to take her a while to figure it out.  She would love to tell someone about her amazing, dangerous, and puzzling adventures; but they already think she’s crazy.  Jenny told me she is willing to stick around for a series of books about her adventures in a variety of books.  She’s pretty flexible that way.

First 250:

     I wish I were invisible.  Just for 40 minutes.  4 minutes.  At least long enough to finish.  Just let me finish!
    “Jenny!  Jenny!” the teacher’s voice vibrated off the wall behind me, and slipped in my ear.  It sounded like she was getting closer.  “Jenny, pay attention.  Put the book down please!”  I looked across at woman in a gray sweater and comfortable shoes.  The teacher hadn’t moved from her place at the front of the room.  Maybe I had.   Obediently I put my book page down on the desk and glanced up at the smart board where Mrs. Lucas was pointing.  “How do I find the median of this list of numbers?” 
    Really?  What was she talking about?
    “Umm.  I…well…add them?” I guessed.
    Just another day in Math class, inches from a good book, yet forced to think about numbers instead.  I longed to be on a beach somewhere, or in a hermit’s shack, not here in a rickety old school desk.  Not daring to touch my book yet, I looked down at it, willing it to flip over so I could read just one more word.  I could picture the bottom of page 730.   The teacher sighed.  I could feel her burning stare in my direction before finally calling on Cyrus to figure out the median problem for the class.  One minute.  Two.  Three minutes later, I let my hand creep back toward the book so slowly only I would notice it moving.

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9 thoughts on “Entry 10 – JENNY PAGE-JUMPER

  1. Query
    words 9/10
    hook 5/10
    plot 5/10
    amount character 9/10
    show/tell 7/10
    stakes 4/10
    overal 6/10. Plot and stake are not mentioned.

    First page
    first line 8/10
    voice 8/10
    originality 7/10
    character development 7/10
    setting 7/10
    overall 7/10

  2. Feedback From Entry #9
    Query
    words 8/10
    hook 8/10
    plot 810
    amount character 8/10
    show/tell 7/10
    stakes 6/10
    overall 8/10.I liked it. The last two sentences are a little kitschy but cute.

    First page
    first line 8/10
    voice 7/10
    originality 6/10 It reminds me of a few books I’ve read to my kids. Still think it is great though!
    character development 7/10 – Hard to tell in 250 words. :\
    setting 8/10 I was think kid. 🙂
    overall 7/10

  3. Query: 7/10 The first line has some redundancy – you already describe Jenny as book-obsessed, so of course all she wants to do is be left alone with a good book. You may want to rethink that sentence so that you’re maximizing the first sentence without being repetitive. Maybe take out the “just wants…” and continue the sentence with “and can’t be bothered with …” from the next one.

    Hook: 5/10 Where is it?! Oh, right there in your second paragraph. You need to specifically mention being magically transported into the book in the first paragraph. Isn’t that the hook?

    Plot: 6/10 What type of “help” do the adults give? So, she’s in the book…now what? There has to be more you can tease an agent with.

    Characters: 8/10

    Showing vs. Telling: 7/10 How does she avoid other subjects like math? Does she skip class to read Harry Potter instead?

    Stakes: 5/10 Again, this is buried in your second paragraph. Sections at the end that start with the book’s title, word count, and genre shouldn’t include things that should have been mentioned earlier.

    Overall: 6/10 The book sounds like fun, but I’m not getting it’s main idea from this query.

    First Line: 10/10

    Voice: 10/10

    Originality: 8/10

    Character Development: 9/10

    Setting/World Building: 9/10

    Overall: 9/10 Your query doesn’t do your first page justice. You write well 

  4. Query
    Words: 8/10
    Hook: 6/10–Your hook is hidden in the 2nd paragraph where you talk about her having the ability to transport into books. You should start right off with that.
    Plot: 9/10
    Characters: 10/10
    Showing vs. Telling: 5/10–The second paragraph contains too much telling of the details you need to show in the first paragraph.
    Stakes: 7/10
    Overall: 7/10
    I do like the voice, especially the last couple of sentences, but more of that voice needs to pour into the query throughout. There’s too much backstory into what led into her transporting. One or 2 sentences will do and then need more about the adventure.

    First 250
    First Line: 9/10
    Voice: 7/10–The voice from the query needs to show in these first words. The tone is a bit dry and too much telling (i.e. using words like “longing”, “let”, “could”, “hadn’t”, and “sounded”).
    Originality: 9/10
    Character Development: 8/10
    Setting/World Building: 9/10
    Overall: 8/10–I really like the concept and I can see my son enjoying such a book.

  5. Query:
    Words: 9/10
    Hook: 6/10. Being able to transport into the book – that’s the hook.
    Plot: 6/10. Got the character, got the goal, but the conflict is kind of missing. The adults are trying to “help” her with…what?
    Amount of Characters: 8/10
    Showing vs Telling: 8/10
    Stakes: 6/10. I’m not sure what happens if she doesn’t disappear?
    Overall: 7/10.

    First 250:
    First Line: 7/10. Urgency is apparent. The “let me finish” part is a bit repetitive, although I see what you’re doing…perhaps change the second “let me finish” to something like “Just one more line!” Also, bit of technical pickiness: numbers should be spelled out.
    Voice: 7/10
    Originality: 7/10. I’ve read “kids disappearing into books”, or else disappearing into some sort of otherwise ordinary object, type books with my son. However, it’s a cool concept!
    Character Development: 8/10
    Setting: 7/10. Could use a bit more description of the classroom.
    Overall: 7/10.

  6. Query:
    Query is 250-300 Words: 9/10 It’s a little bit short, but I think it’s probably better to be shorter than longer
    Hook: 9/10

    Plot is Easily Understandable (MC, Goal, Conflict): 7/10 Obviously her goal is to get out of the book, but the stakes are really vague here.
    
Amount of Characters Listed: 9/10 

    Showing vs. Telling (Doesn’t Read like a Synopsis): 8/10

    Stakes Clearly Listed: 5/10 There aren’t really any stakes here. I had to read Hatchet in fifth grade, I believe…does Jenny come in contact with Brian, the main character? (I think that was his name.) Does she face some of the same obstacles he does? I remember the end of the book, where Brian has to dive into the lake and get past the pilot’s dead body to retrieve the radio that get him rescued. Pretty scary stuff for a kid! There’s plenty you could play with here.

    Overall: 8/10 This sounds really interesting, but it could use a lot of fleshing out. The last paragraph is kind of redundant and can probably be worked into the beginning to give us a better sense of Jenny’s character.

    First 250:
    First Line: 9/10

    Voice: 9/10
    
Originality: 8/10 I’ve seen plenty of stories where characters are transported into books/movies, but it’s been awhile since I’ve seen one done really well. (Other than Teen Beach Movie…:D)

    Character Development: 9/10

    Setting/World Building: 7/10 Some of the classroom elements are a bit cliche (snippy teacher calling on student who isn’t paying attention, asking a math problem she has no clue how to do)

    Overall: 8/10 Would a fifth grader read a book that’s over 700 pages long? I don’t even think any of the Harry Potter books are quite that lengthy. Or is she talking about her textbook?

    from entry number 8

  7. Query:
    Words: 7/10 I felt it was too short because the ending was basically explaining instead of showing, and that ending felt more like a synopsis. But I love the idea behind this just work on the query.
    Hook: 5/10 The hook about traveling into books is amazing, but its hidden away in the second paragraph.
    Plot: 6/10. For me the stakes are missing and the conflict could be developed. Perhaps you could hint at what the danger really is.
    Amount of Characters: 8/10
    Showing vs Telling: 7/10
    Stakes: 6/10. Show them clearly.
    Overall: 7/10.

    First 250:
    First Line: 8/10.
    Voice: 9/10
    Originality: 8/10.
    Character Development: 8/10
    Setting: 9/10.
    Overall: 8/10.

    From entry 3

  8. Entry 10: JENNY PAGE-JUMPER

    Query:
    Length: 10
    Hook: 2
    Plot is Easily Understandable (MC, Goal, Conflict): 4
    Amount of Characters Listed: 10
    Showing vs. Telling (Doesn’t Read like a Synopsis): 5
    Stakes Clearly Listed: 4
    Overall: 3

    First 250:
    First Line: 3
    Voice: 3
    Originality: 3
    Character Development: 5
    Setting/World Building: 3
    Overall: 3

    Total score: 58

    Query:
    Hook was non-existent, unless I count the first part of the main paragraph, which was very weak.
    Plot: Where is the goal? After ‘escaping into’ the book to begin her adventure, is she now trying to escape from it?
    No problem with only the single character, it seems to be a solo adventure.
    Overall, the query was hurt by several typos and grammatical errors, as well as jumping about (returning to the plot after the statistics which should go at the end). Also, the way you end appears to suggest that you intend to plagiarize various known authors’ fantasy worlds in order to create a series.

    First 250:
    Poor grammar (including three incomplete sentences in the first line) and a couple of missing words hurt this first page.
    Jumping from one character to another in the middle of a paragraph doesn’t sound right.
    Starting with your MC in a mundane environment doing mundane stuff is not a good way to draw your readers in.
    A small point, but I have trouble believing that a 5th-grader would be reading a book with over 730 pages – maybe this is explained later. Having said that, it gives an inkling that your MC may be different.

    General notes, applicable to all:

    Query length:
    250-275 is the sweet spot to aim for (300 words is too long). I used a simple formula. Any query of appropriate length scored 10/10. Anything over 275 words (excluding salutation and sign-off) lost one point, and then another point was deducted for every 10 words extra. I did not deduct points for short queries as this is not likely to be a problem with agents, provided all the important information is presented.

    Number of characters:
    I awarded the maximum to every entrant, unless it read like a character soup, or it was clear that something was missing.
    (Note for next time: I think this category should have been a little broader to include depth of character)

    Other categories:
    I figured that 6 is an average score, appropriate for an average query as seen in the “Query Critiques” forum (polished & revised versions, not first drafts as this is a contest and entries should already be polished). I adjusted the scores up or down based on how I felt it would stack up on that forum.

    Overall:
    I skewed the overall scores slightly depending on whether or not the entry left me wanting to read more.

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