Feedback on Children's StoryIf you have an interest in children's books, I'd appreciate your feedback if you have a chance. I am considering entering a contest and would like your feedback on the following two excerpts (limited to 4,000 characters, including spaces).
First, do either of these excerpts strike you as interesting, do they make you want to read more?
Second, which excerpt do you think is better?
Third, tell me if you think that this effort is or is not worth the nominal fee to enter the contest without major revisions, then tell me what you think revisions should be.
This story stems from stories that I would make up and tell my children at bedtime. They like them so far and I'm wondering if I can write well enough that they might be interesting to other children as well.
Thanks for your help!
You see, Grandpa Patrick was a very kind soul who really wanted to live his life in his house with his books. Grandpa--I'll just call him Patrick from now on--was living a peaceful life in Dorn, engaging his students in their history lesson when tragedy struck.
"Class, take out The History of Dorn: Joseph’s Journey and turn to page 16." Patrick looked at his students over the tops of his wire-rimmed glasses.
"Can anyone tell me who the hero is in Joseph’s Journey?...Anyone?"
His students were quickly turning to the proper page and were looking sheepishly at their desks, the wall, outside--anywhere but at their teacher.
"Am I to understand that no one did their homework to prepare for our discussion today?"
"You don't have to understand it that way, Mr. P!" piped up a voice from the back.
"I think I shall, Jamil, as that seems to be the best explanation for my students' reluctance to participate with me" said Patrick, annoyance creeping into his voice.
"Cathou!" Patrick named the student that stared intently out of the window of the one-room schoolhouse, "Who was the hero in the Legend of Dorn?"
"Anthraks", said the young griffin in a smallish voice.
"Anthraks?...anthraks!?", replied Patrick in disbelief, he was becoming exasperated now. "There was never a mention of Anthraks in this tome—this is history, not myth!”
"Well, aren't Anthraks supposed to be like black beetles with a tail like a scorpion?" asked Cathou, still staring out the window.
"Cathou, we are not talking about Anthraks right now, we are talking about the History of Dorn."
Patrick was somewhat surprised at Cathou's questions, because he was normally a very good student. "Will you please focus on the lesson?"
"But, Mr. P, don't those look like Anthraks?" Cathou's eagle-eyes were now big as saucers as he pointed out the window with his talon.
Patrick’s eyes flitted toward the window as he said sternly, “Cathou, your impertinence d--.”
Whatever Patrick was going to say was lost in the thump of the History of Dorn slipping from his grasp and falling loudly to the floor. Patrick stared out the window-a million thoughts buzzing through his detailed mind.
The children began to crowd around the window. Sure enough, on the hill outside were what looked like large black beetles the size of cows--and they had long, scorpion-like tails with nasty-looking stingers on the ends. They appeared to be grazing on the grass, just like the cows that used to be there, except that they scuttled along like overgrown cockroaches, bumping into each other like so many grotesque bumper-cars.
Patrick just could not believe his eyes. He quickly tried to remember everything that he had read about the Anthraks in fairy tale books. They were originally Trolls (which are a nasty bunch to begin with) that had betrayed the King of the Trolls in battle against the humans. The stories said that they were vicious fighters that even the Upper Trolls don't cross. All of this flew through Patrick's mind in a flash.
Now have you ever seen something live that you only read about in books? Maybe it was a place like the ocean or a beast like a gorilla. Books are great, but there's nothing like actually seeing it. Well, this was even better, because these creatures weren't even supposed to exist! It would be like seeing a three-legged Shcramp walking through...wait, you've probably never heard of...never mind...back to my story.
"Stay here, children!" commanded Patrick as he strode out the door.
Now, a faun striding sounds like a toddler wearing mama's shoes. Tap, tap, tap went Patrick's hooves on the wooden floor and down the steps.
"Where's he going?" asked a human child.
"He's running away!"
"No, he's not, he's going over to them!"
"They're gonna kill ‘im!"
"No, look!" shouted Cathou the griffin, "He's coming back!"
In rushed Patrick to the schoolhouse--tap, tap, tap--"Students, kindly arrange your possessions, we must process immediately."
"Good morning, Mr. P"
After exchanging dutiful pleasantries about each other's families, Patrick inquired about speaking before the Table of Elders. Nancy frowned—a pitiable look came over her face.
"You haven't made an appointment, Mr. P"
"I know, Nancy, but this concerns an extremely exigent matter."
Nancy didn't know what that meant, but she could tell by the tone of Patrick's voice that something was wrong. She also knew that no one walked into the Table of Elders without a prior appointment.
Patrick saw her hesitation. He grasped her arm.
"Nancy, please...this is a matter that could hold dire consequences for the entire village"
Nancy was shaken to see dear Mr. P in such a state.
"A-Alright, Mr. P" she said, her feathers just a slight bit ruffled, "I will go see if they will see you today."
Nancy walked cautiously toward the meeting room where the dim shouting became clearer and louder.
"I am telling you, a stop sign at the corner of Weatherly and Main will not accomplish what you want!"
"It's not a stop sign, it's a traffic sign!"
She paused, grasping the large brass handle, sweat from her bird-hands making it slippery. The last time she entered this room unannounced, she received a tongue-lashing she didn't soon forget, I can tell you. Taking a deep breath, she pulled open the door. The shouting stopped abruptly. It became grave-dead silent as poor Nancy, with her bird-legs quivering, stood there—a nervous wreck as nine pairs of eyes bored into her.
"Well?" A gruff, impatient voice punched out from the face of a grumpy, wide, stump of a dwarf. The Chief Elder's long beard made his frown look deep and foreboding. The lines on his face looked as if they had been carved there by an ancient, unskilled sculptor.
"I...I...I..." Nancy stuttered. She paused. The stares continued with no encouragement, as if they'd prefer that she just go away.
"I think you really need to talk to Mr. P and it's really important because he has something really important to say!" Nancy shot the words at them so fast they could hardly understand her. She just wanted to say her piece, get Mr. P an audience and go back to her desk to resume the game of solitaire that Mr. P had interrupted.
Then something in Nancy's little bird brain snapped. She didn't care that these bullies threatened her job the last time she interrupted them. She didn't care that they were looking at her as if she were a mosquito buzzing around their ears and wanted to swat her away. All she cared about now was accomplishing her mission.
"You all are just plain rude! I am here telling you that Mr. P needs to speak with you immediately because he has an extremely exergent matter to share with you immediately and now! Just listen to what Mr. P has to say, immediately, and then you'll see that you needn't have been so rude by staring at me like I was some sort of bug! And if you're going to fire me, then fine, because you have to hear immediately what Mr. P has to say, and that's that!
Nancy was flushed with the exhilaration of what she'd just done...told off the elders of the village! No one tells off the elders of the village! She felt wonderful, she felt ecstatic, she felt—cold.
The Chief Elder made a noise. Her heart fell into her stomach, which promptly fell into her feet. The noise was like a grating growl. Nancy cowered in fear, ready to retreat. The growling sound grew and changed into a strange sort of laugh.
"Har, haw, har!" The Chief Elder chortled. "You've got some spirit, Nanc! Send Mr. P in “immediately and now” and we’ll listen to his “exergent” matter!" The rest of the elders gathered around the long table were muttering laughter as well.
"O-Of course...I'll send him right in", Nancy pirouetted and practically ran back to where Patrick was waiting.