Our second submission for First Impressions comes from Kristen Wixted. It’s a lower MG (like a long chapter book). It’s humorous realistic fiction, and the title is THE DEAD THINGS COLLECTION.
Chapter 1: Opportunity
In second grade, Miss Augusta taught Emilio and me the word OPPORTUNITY. It means a situation that you can make the best of, and get something you want.
We live in Patagonia, Maine. Usually summer doesn’t come here until late June, but this year summer heated up the sky and the street and everything else by the middle of May.
We have this new neighbor.
Her name is Scarlet.
Scarlet has a pool.
The pool is blue and cool-looking. It has a floating dolphin and a waterfall and diving rings, and it’s next to a patio with a little fridge full of soda in shiny cans.
But Emilio and I didn’t get invited to the pool, only the girls on the street did. So Emilio said, “We just have to wait for our opportunity.”
Emilio uses words we learn in school like he’s testing them out, the way you throw around a new football in your yard.
We waited for our opportunity for five weeks.
And THEN, on the first day of summer, there was screaming across the street! Eight girls were all running from Scarlet’s house to mine in bare feet, screaming,
It’s terrrrrrible! Grossss! Disssgusssting!!!
Hellllp, someone helllllp!
Emilio and I sat in the driveway, watching.
Then he said, “Ike, guess what?”
And I said, “What?”
He said, “This is our opportunity.”
I like how Emilio thinks! This is adorable. I can’t find much to crit in it. Ike’s voice seems exactly right to me for his age, and for the age of the intended readers. I hope that whatever awful thing has grossed out the girls, taking care of it gets Emilio and Ike invited to the pool.
I suppose we could get the narrator’s name earlier, when Emilio first tells him they have to wait for an opportunity, but I don’t really object to it appearing where it does. And I wasn’t in love with the line summer heated up the sky and the street and everything else the way I was with the rest of the passage. Perhaps Kristen could find a simile or metaphor that works as well as the football one further down.
Personally, I believe this opening would resonate with third grade readers. What does everyone else think?