Wednesday, November 6, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #13

Dear John Cusick,

Thank you for considering my 193 word picture book for ages 2+.

As a young child embarks on an outdoor adventure--pup tent, pajamas, crackling campfire, lantern and teddy bear (Grizzly in the story) in hand, the thrill of nature's nighttime elevates the child's imagination. The backyard campout becomes The Adventures of Wild Eyed Slim and Silver Dollar City. Told through the eyes of the child, this sweet story places the child and his companion bedtime bear in the midst of the excitement.

I look forward to your review and critique.


One starry night
Not so long ago
I had just finished my beans
And tin cup of joe
I played my harmonica
And warmed my bones by the fire
The wolves howled in unison
Like the Tabernacle Choir
When suddenly...
The earth beneath me
Began to shudder and quake
And in my cowboy boots
I started to shake
It was Wild Eyed Slim
And his band of renowned
Riding into the night
They'd been run out of town
A rootin' tootin' cowboy
A desperado if you will
With a bounty on his head
"Wanted" just like Buckskin Bill
I tied up my horse
And jumped into my tent
Pulled the flap closed behind me
And under the blanket I went
I steadied my hand
And reached for the light
I shined it on Grizzly
And gave them a fright
Their spurs jingle jangled
As they galloped away
Old Grizzly and I
Had just saved the day
I rubbed the dust from my eyes
And reclaimed my campsite
Silver Dollar City


Anonymous said...

I can visualize this rugged-sounding tale juxtaposed against pictures of a little boy and his stuffed bear imagining it all.

Delightful concept!

Parents may have to explain things like what "joe" is, but there's nothing wrong with that. My view on writing for children is that if a child doesn't have to look up or ask about a few words in a story, the author isn't doing it right.

I suspect this little boy's parents watch a lot of old Westerns. Maybe Dad reads Louis L'Amour (mine does).

Rena J. Traxel said...

I think this is full of imagination and I like how nicely it flows. But the voice seems too old for a child to be telling the story. Maybe I missed something. But this sounds like an adult telling the story.

Author Amok said...

Great title! Your MC's imaginary adventure reminds me of the Skippyjon Jones books.

I am a poet and love rhyming books. However, the meter has to be just right in a rhyming read aloud. I'd recommend counting syllables in each line. Keep the number of syllables consistent(within one or two beats) from line to line.

John C. said...

Rhyming picture book texts can be hard to pull off, but the rhythm and rhyme are really impressive here. That said, I'm still not sure this story *needs* to be in rhyme, and there are places in which the need to rhyme creates for some awkward constructions, e.g. It was Wild Eyed Slim /
And his band of renowned...Renowned what, exactly?

I also applaud the tight prose and low-word count, however the story feels a bit slight to me. The problem is solved too quickly, which makes the plot arc feel a bit flat, and not particularly satisfying. Could the narrator try to scare them away a few times and fail, building to the eventual bright idea that actually works?

Finally, do we need the narrator to be *imagining* to be a cowboy? Why not simply have this be a story about a young cowboy on the prairie? Is the imagination frame necessary? Just a thought.