Entry #5: DINOSAUR YARD
DINOSAUR YARD is 44,000-word middle grade contemporary fantasy. It’s Daniel José Older’s Dactyl Hill Squad[KP1] meets Ken Liu’s short story Literomancer[KP2] in its celebration of intergenerational and cross-cultural friendships.[KP3]
Everything is connected. At least according to 12-year-old Maggie Roy it is. If she can avoid the sidewalk cracks, her parents will live to a hundred. If she can count to twenty before passing that street sign, she’ll get a good mark on the math test. Deep down, she knows this isn’t real, but she can’t help herself.[KP4]
The only person who really understands her is her best friend and next-door neighbour, Mr. Macklemore. When he moves away to a special retirement residence, Maggie is lost without him. Her only company is the life-size dinosaur figurines in the yard across the road. Things get worse when she learns he has Alzheimer’s and isn’t getting better.
After half a lonely summer in the quiet stretch of farmland where she lives, a Korean family moves into his old house. Maggie is overjoyed to meet Priscilla. They are the same age and immediately bond over an enormous love for food and a curiosity for each other’s cultures. As their friendship blooms, something strange happens…
The dinosaurs across the road begin to move. In the stillness of night, the triceratops, the stegosaurus, the T-Rex, they all come to life. It’s all connected.
One morning, Maggie wakes to a horrible surprise: the baby diplodocus has disappeared. Soon after, she learns Mr. Macklemore’s condition has worsened. This is no coincidence. As more dinosaurs go missing, he grows more ill.
The girls must race against time to solve the mystery before it’s too late… before all the dinosaurs have vanished, and Mr. Macklemore is lost to his disease. And the link could be something neither girl could ever have imagined.[KP5]
[KP2] Quotation marks for short story titles.
[KP3] Taking a quick look, this is a LONG query. This should be shortened to 2-3 paragraphs.
[KP4] Cut most of this, as it’s not really needed. Let your character speak through your voice ,and then we can find all the nuances of her through reading.
[KP5] Can you combine these three paragraphs? There’s a lot here that seems able to be condensed into one paragraph rather than spreading into three.
The diplodocus shadow stretched out over the sea of wheat as the sun dipped closer to the horizon. Its already long neck extended impossibly until no more rays remained for the illusion.[KP6]
For yet another day, Maggie sat on the gentle slope of the roof outside her bedroom window, and the dark forms[KP7] crawled along the ground.
In the winter, when it was too cold for the roof, she pressed her nose against frosty glass and monitored the progression of shadows creeping over snow-laden fields, sleeping crops below.
Rays of orange fire pierced the sky. Maggie retreated inside her bedroom and retrieved her logbook to draw one more line next to the series of hashes. Eight hundred and ninety lines preceded today's. That made two years, five months and nine days.
"Maggie." Her father's voice soared up the stairs. "Dinner is ready!"
She thumped down to the kitchen. Out the window beside the dining table sat the empty neighbour's house. For months, the For Sale sign hung on rusty hinges, creaking in the wind. For months, Maggie hoped for a new best friend to move in next door. For months, Maggie knew deep down that no one could ever replace Mr. Macklemore.[KP8]
That evening, the sign brandished a new word–
"Did you see they finally sold the old Macklemore place?" Maggie's father interrupted her thoughts as he reached across the table for the casserole. He slopped a pile of hot, creamy rice and vegetables down.[KP9]
[KP6] Expository and not needed. Start with your character and their goals!
[KP7] Forms? Shadows? People? Magical shadowy beasts?
[KP8] This is good, but it doesn’t give us quite enough of an insight as to who Maggie is and what she WANTS. What are her emotions like? You’re simply stating that she hoped for someone to move in, but not how she FEELS about the house being abandoned. I’d like to see you dive more into emotions here and enable your readers to feel for her and connect with her on a deeper level.
[KP9] I actually kind of love your voice and this premise. I’m not huge on dinosaurs, but I’m enjoying the quirkiness of all of this! I’m going to say Pages!
Results: Pages! When you’re ready, can you send me your query, synopsis, and first 50 pages (attached) to Kelly@reesagency.com? Just make sure to put “Submission” somewhere in the email title!