Dianne Salerni author Dianne Salerni author Dianne Salerni books Dianne Salerni blog Dianne Salerni Appearances Dianne Salerni contact Dianne Salerni teachers
Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | First Impressions: SQUATCH WATCH

First Impressions: SQUATCH WATCH

 

MichelleOur final submission for October First Impressions is a MG humorous adventure from Michelle L. Brown titled SQUATCH WATCH:

***

 If you’re going to be the first human to interview Bigfoot, you need bait.

            But my bait had a sore throat. Rodney, the other founding member of the Junior Squatch Watcher’s Society, was the best Sasquatch caller in the whole state of Washington. Now that Rodney was raspy, I was stuck with my kid sister, LuEllen, who didn’t even believe in Bigfoot. Conditions were ripe for a Squatch sighting, though, so I couldn’t be picky.

            “Hurry up and put this on,” I said, handing her the Squatch suit.

            She sniffed. “Leo, I am not wearing that thing. What’s on it, dog hair?”

            “Precisely. I gathered clippings from Mom’s clients, then glued them to these coveralls. This suit is just the right Bigfoot blend of grays and blacks. Sheepdogs and schnauzers, mostly.”

            “You mean this came off the floor of the Triple P?”

            “Lu, you’re an eight-year-old Einstein. Isn’t that what I just said? Now put it on. You know you owe me.”

             I’d been doing all her chores in our garage, better known as the Pampered Pup Parlor, for the last two months to build my collection of dog hair. Of course, I hadn’t told the Kidster or Mom the reason I’d morphed into Mr. Helpful.

             LuEllen slid her skinny body into the suit. “You know I’m only doing this to prove you wrong.” She pulled a fur-covered ski mask over her frizzy blonde braids. “Ugh! What’s that awful smell?”

            “Sasquatch scent,” I said, squirting her with my mister. “It’s my own special blend of sweaty socks, rotten potatoes, and pickle juice. Mixed with wet dog hair, you’ll smell perfect!”

            “Ew!”

            “Now swing your arms when you walk, like this.” I swung my long arms in classic Sasquatch style.

            She flapped like a chicken on fire.

            “Bend your knees, and twist your hips while you take giant steps.” This time I went slower, doing my best Bigfoot swagger straight of the old 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film I’d been studying.

            LuEllen tried and face planted. “The pant legs are too long,” she whined. “I’m a lot shorter than Rodney.”

            “Never mind the walk.” The moon was up, and the man-beasts would be on the move. I shouldered my backpack and switched on my headlamp. Then I grabbed LuEllen by her furry glove and led her a little way into the Umatilla Forest that bumped up to our back yard. We came to a clearing where I’d seen lots of deer. “I’ll spread the peanut butter sandwiches in a wide circle around this stump, then take my position in that bush. You sit here and try to look like a helpless baby Bigfoot.” 

***

Okay, this is just adorable! The premise, the execution, the voice – I’m having a hard time finding anything to critique. I love the homemade Bigfoot suit made out of discarded dog hair and scented with sweaty socks, rotten potatoes, and pickle juice.  I love LuEllen’s attempts to follow Leo’s instructions:

“Now swing your arms when you walk, like this.” I swung my long arms in classic Sasquatch style.

She flapped like a chicken on fire.

There are only a couple of details for me to critique. How does Leo know that Rodney is the best Sasquatch caller in the state of Washington? Has he successfully called one? (And if he has, why is LuEllen still a disbeliever?)

And I really, really would have loved the opening line … if I hadn’t seen the opening line in a previous version Michelle sent me:

If you’re going to interview Bigfoot, you need bait.

When it comes to punchy opening lines, I think shorter is better. So if it were me, I’d switch to the original version.

Readers, what do you think? Michelle, thanks for sharing your page with us! Marcy’s thoughts can be found at Mainewords, and you can follow Michelle on Twitter at @MLBrown_writes.

10 Responses to First Impressions: SQUATCH WATCH

  1. Tonja says:

    The way it started out in 2nd person with the rest in 1st person stopped me in my tracks.

    • DianneSalerni says:

      That didn’t bother me at all. Since the page is so grounded in Leo’s voice, it came off (to me) as Leo addressing the reader. It was very MG friendly, I think.

  2. Tiana Smith says:

    I agree with Dianne’s comments, but those things didn’t especially bother me. I’d keep reading 🙂

  3. I thought this one was really good. Liked the humor.

  4. I had to laugh out loud. Love it when an author can make me laugh.

  5. Joanne Fritz says:

    Love this one (and I think I know the author under a different name). Makes me giggle. I couldn’t find anything to critique other than a very minor picky thing: I believe you’re missing one word. In the paragraph that begins “Bend your knees” etc, the phrase “straight of the old 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film…” seems to be missing the word “out”.

    Dianne has a good point about Rodney as the best Sasquatch caller, but I didn’t notice it myself.

  6. Liza says:

    This is one of the very best first impressions I’ve read. My only thought, and believe me, its a little one…I stopped at “Triple P” wondering what it meant. I read on and figured it out, but maybe the first time out of the box you want to explain. Really though, this is just outstanding.

  7. mlbrown says:

    Dianne, thank you for the critique! I’m definitely in agreement about the first line and being more clear about Rodney’s squatch calling skills. Thanks to all of you for your kind comments, observations, and catches. Especially you, Joanne F! 😉

  8. Mina B. says:

    I already left my comment at Marcy’s. Again, this was wonderful. Very engaging!

  9. Rebecca Anderson says:

    I really liked this. I like the punchy first sentence and loved the last paragraph. I got hung up on some of the things that Leo said. For example, “Einstein” seemed dated but I could be wrong. Also some sentences/phrases coming out of an 11-year-old (?) boy’s mouth such as “Precisely. I gathered clippings from Mom’s clients, then glued them to these coveralls” (Precisely? Mom’s clients?) and ” and twist your hips while you take giant steps” (hips?)

    I also wondered if it would make sense to allude to the fact that Leo told his sister that he was going to call in a favor at some point for doing her chores (e.g., you said you’d do what I asked) — not the more vague “you owe me.” LuEllen doesn’t seem especially compliant so I think there needs to be more of a understood motivation as to why she’s going along with something she doesn’t want to do. Why doesn’t she just say — not this time. I’ll do the dishes but I’m not smelling like your socks!