Book Jacket

 

rank 5905
word count 12615
date submitted 18.04.2012
date updated 31.07.2012
genres: Fiction, Children's, Young Adult, C...
classification: universal
incomplete

The Grand Prize

Scott Owen Snarr

When the local junior high school principal refuses to let two overachieving homeschoolers enter the science fair contest, they take it as a challenge.

 

Twelve-year-old Jacob Fenton and his older sister Vicky never shrink from a challenge. They’ve got entire room full of awards and trophies to prove it. So when their nerdy neighbor Barry Plurkin tells them about the school science fair contest, naturally they set their sights on the grand prize. The problem is that Jacob and Vicky don’t go to the school — they’re homeschooled. And getting permission from the principal to join the fair may be their biggest challenge yet. Meanwhile, their research takes them on a journey that will change their lives forever. But when their parents won’t go along with it, they find themselves with more challenges than they ever bargained for.

 
rate the book

to rate this book please Register or Login

 

tags

african-american, animals, bullying, climate change, comedy, competition, denver, discrimination, environment, global warming, homeschooling, humor, m...

on 0 watchlists

10 comments

 

To leave comments on this or any book please Register or Login

subscribe to comments for this book
johnpatrick wrote 723 days ago

Chaps 1-2.
Engaging enough and plenty of depth under what at first glance seems quite a thin remit i.e the importance of taking part, not just winning.
Dialogue in the second chapter-between MC and Barry started to sound too long and perfect-as if it was written on a guidance pamphlet-too well-meaning adult, in my view. The dialogue in chap one much better.
''You're a tough competitor '' Jacob. You seem....'' Second speech marks misplaced.
Place and character work well, the exposition folded in seamlessly enough. My mind started to wander with the description of the trophies but I think I understand why it is emphasised at this point. No real 'obvious' characters, each seem real enough.
Tension-that's carried by the competition and whether they'll be allowed to compete. Is that enough? I genuinely don't know but I'm not in the target audience am I.
Good Luck with it Owen and I hope you get the constructive advice this site is good for.
All the Best!
John
Dropping Babies-would appreciated a return read.

JMF wrote 724 days ago

Sorry I've taken a little longer than anticipated to do this. I've read all you have uploaded here. First of all I really like your pitches. They are succinct and to the point without giving too much away. I think you may have taken a different approach to a familiar theme, which is great. You write well but I have a number of points to make about you writing. I hope you take them in the spirit they are intended - to be helpful!
It may be that your sports-orientated first chapter may put off some readers. I know a lot of children are keen on sport, but maybe not to that extent and there are some who just aren't at all. There is nothing wrong with starting off with talking about the sport, after all, it explains about their competitive spirit, but I think you could cut down the amount of time you spend on talking about the awards they've won. You could also cut down some of the other detail which is not really needed and slows the pace down for the reader. For example, you could cut down the description of the showcase of trophies, the description of where they sat for dinner. Putting too much detail can be distracting for the reader. I also think you could cut out the explanation of the no 7 on Barry's stomach. You have already mentioned this earlier.
I have the same remarks to make about the following chapters. I did like the confrontation with the kids by the bike racks. I would be interested to see if these characters make an appearance later on in the story.
The dialogue is generally fine, although you may like to revisit the conversation between the children and their parents. Some of this is a little unbelievable as it tends to be used to provide information, some of which is not really needed.
I found your story was well-written with no obvious mistakes and typos that I could see. This is a good start and with a few minor changes to the amount of detail provided and a look at the dialogue it could be tightened up nicely. I hope you don't mind me giving you honest comments. Please feel free to ignore any you feel are not useful.
Well done and good luck with your writing.
Julia
Shadow Jumper

Owen Scott wrote 717 days ago

Dear Paul,

Thanks so much for taking time to read the first chapter and commenting. Negative or posiive, I appreciate it. I will consider each of your comments when I get back to revising the first chapter with a few exceptions where I think you might have misread:

‘I don’t get it,’ said Dad… - this seems like a rather odd fatherly reaction to hearing your son has intentionally hurt another boy and, moreover, seems rather proud of the fact?
Why would Barry want to have dinner with someone who intentionally hurt him??

S: Jacob said he didn't do it on purpose. They were playing a game of tennis. It happens.

‘He walks everywhere’ – don’t understand this remark. How else is he supposed to get about??

S: Ride a bike, take the school bus, ride in his parents' car. Anyway, you are right to point this out. I have never settled on how to phrase this or decided exactly where Barry lives.

‘Mom was still waiting for me to respond… hands on her hips’ – isn’t she sitting down at the dining table??

S: No. She had just brought out the fries. It didn't say that she sat down.

Mahalo,
Scott

Paul Beattie wrote 717 days ago

Not for me, I’m afraid, Scott. While the writing, although pretty stiff and uninvolving, is competent enough, I found the whole tone of the novel rather preachy and one dimensional. I appreciate I’m not your target reader but, even so, I found the thrust of the narrative offputtingly simplistic, almost flimsy and the general characterisation unappealingly clichéd. Even for a children’s novel, the blatant moralising feels far too ‘in your face’ and unsophisticated. I really think you need to take a step back, concentrate on building character and plot and let the whole ‘message’ of your book emerge subtly as opposed to the sledgehammer approach you appear to be adopting at the moment. I’d also recommend rethinking the characterisation of Jacob and Victoria. At the moment, they feel unpleasantly full of themselves, almost brattish and I’m sure younger readers will find them similarly unattractive. Sorry to sound so negative. Best of luck with this. P


For what it’s worth, I made some notes on the opening chapter as I went along:

‘A black Honda Prelude rolled up…’ – POV-wise this feels wrong. We’re in Jacob’s POV. He’d think of the car as ‘Dad’s car’ or something similar. He may go on to describe it as a black Honda Prelude etc but his initial thought would be that it was his father’s car.

‘That was sort of true. I was in the eleven-to-twelve-age group…etc’ – in light of what Vicky has just said, this doesn’t make sense. Also, feels like a pretty blatant info dump re J and V’s age.

‘asked Dad… while chewing on gum…’ – you can’t talk and chew on gum at the same time.

‘twelve-year-old’ not ’12-year-old’

‘I don’t get it,’ said Dad… - this seems like a rather odd fatherly reaction to hearing your son has intentionally hurt another boy and, moreover, seems rather proud of the fact?

Why does the father keep using ‘Champ’ at the end of every sentence? No-one talks this way. It’s obvious he’s talking to his son. There’s no need to keep mentioning his nickname. Feels very unreal.

‘Count me in [comma not full-stop]’ I said.

‘Victoria… is the girl’s name for Victor’ – find it very hard to believe anyone – particularly a child - would think of the distinctly unremarkable name ‘Victoria’ in this way??

‘she affirmed’ – how old is J again??

‘Dinner will be served shortly’ – feels very stiff/unnatural?? Why not simply ‘Dinner will be ready shortly’??

‘shaped like a birdie resting on its tip’ – I have no idea what this means??

‘Do you think there’s more to life than winning?’ – really??!! I can’t believe any kid would talk this way. Also, if this is the central ‘message’ of your book, it does feel like an incredibly clumsy, rather heavy-handed way to introduce it to the reader.

‘Of course she wasn’t right’ quickly followed by ‘… maybe she was right’- which one is it??

‘He walks everywhere’ – don’t understand this remark. How else is he supposed to get about??

‘Mom chided’ – again, the vocab doesn’t feel age-appropriate.

‘Mom was still waiting for me to respond… hands on her hips’ – isn’t she sitting down at the dining table??

Why would Barry want to have dinner with someone who intentionally hurt him??

Owen Scott wrote 719 days ago

Dear John,

I appreciate all of your comments. Indeed, your feedback is helpful to me. I will get to Dropping Babies soon.

Scott Owen

Chaps 1-2.
Engaging enough and plenty of depth under what at first glance seems quite a thin remit i.e the importance of taking part, not just winning.
Dialogue in the second chapter-between MC and Barry started to sound too long and perfect-as if it was written on a guidance pamphlet-too well-meaning adult, in my view. The dialogue in chap one much better.
''You're a tough competitor '' Jacob. You seem....'' Second speech marks misplaced.
Place and character work well, the exposition folded in seamlessly enough. My mind started to wander with the description of the trophies but I think I understand why it is emphasised at this point. No real 'obvious' characters, each seem real enough.
Tension-that's carried by the competition and whether they'll be allowed to compete. Is that enough? I genuinely don't know but I'm not in the target audience am I.
Good Luck with it Owen and I hope you get the constructive advice this site is good for.
All the Best!
John
Dropping Babies-would appreciated a return read.

johnpatrick wrote 723 days ago

Chaps 1-2.
Engaging enough and plenty of depth under what at first glance seems quite a thin remit i.e the importance of taking part, not just winning.
Dialogue in the second chapter-between MC and Barry started to sound too long and perfect-as if it was written on a guidance pamphlet-too well-meaning adult, in my view. The dialogue in chap one much better.
''You're a tough competitor '' Jacob. You seem....'' Second speech marks misplaced.
Place and character work well, the exposition folded in seamlessly enough. My mind started to wander with the description of the trophies but I think I understand why it is emphasised at this point. No real 'obvious' characters, each seem real enough.
Tension-that's carried by the competition and whether they'll be allowed to compete. Is that enough? I genuinely don't know but I'm not in the target audience am I.
Good Luck with it Owen and I hope you get the constructive advice this site is good for.
All the Best!
John
Dropping Babies-would appreciated a return read.

Owen Scott wrote 724 days ago

Dear Joe,

Thanks for your reading and your comments.
I don't think it's possible to give the grand prize the kind of meaning you suggested with this story, although I can tell you that the stakes are raised at two points in later chapters. The importance of winning it tends to build up gradually, but that comes at the cost of less urgency from the outset.
I will think of how to make a stronger hook that doesn't put off non sport-lovers.
I'm grateful for your comments and suggestions!

Scott

p.s I'll get to Ginger right away.

Hi Scott! I've just read your first few chapters, and really enjoyed them. You've got an ease with dialogue and characterisation that I personally find very appealing. I also like the 'message' that competition for its own sake is meaningless, it should have a point. If I have one suggestion, it is this: how about giving that 'grand prize' a more...ahem..."dramatic" point? I mean, if you made your central MC DESPERATE to win - maybe to save his folks from eviction, or to prove he's not a loser geek? - you might have a stronger 'hook' to the book. As it stands, as suggested by JMF, you may lose a lot of non-sport oriented readers. I'm thinking films like 'Cool Runnings' or 'Bend it Like Beckham', where we really WANT the 'poor desperate underdog' to win - regardless of what sport/competition it is!

High stars, and will be back.

Joe Kovacs
Ginger the Buddha Cat

(my young friend Tristram Kane was home-schooled. Maybe approach him for an exchange read?)

Owen Scott wrote 724 days ago

Dear Julia,
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and give useful comments about my story. Your feedback is valuable. Indeed, to get comments like that is the reason I joined authonomy. I will consider thinning out some background and details of the trophy room on my next revision.
A couple of responses:
The kids at the bike rack are there because some of them do appear later in the story, and I wanted to introduce them in context.
I'm not sure exactly which parts of the parent-child dialogue sounds like an info dump, but much of it is setup or subtle foreshadowing. I hope tried to work them in smoothly so that they don't stand out. However, the flip side of that coin is that after reading only part of the story, one may wonder why those parts are there at all.

p.s. I was out of town for a conference, but now I'm back and I'll look at your book first thing.


Sorry I've taken a little longer than anticipated to do this. I've read all you have uploaded here. First of all I really like your pitches. They are succinct and to the point without giving too much away. I think you may have taken a different approach to a familiar theme, which is great. You write well but I have a number of points to make about you writing. I hope you take them in the spirit they are intended - to be helpful!
It may be that your sports-orientated first chapter may put off some readers. I know a lot of children are keen on sport, but maybe not to that extent and there are some who just aren't at all. There is nothing wrong with starting off with talking about the sport, after all, it explains about their competitive spirit, but I think you could cut down the amount of time you spend on talking about the awards they've won. You could also cut down some of the other detail which is not really needed and slows the pace down for the reader. For example, you could cut down the description of the showcase of trophies, the description of where they sat for dinner. Putting too much detail can be distracting for the reader. I also think you could cut out the explanation of the no 7 on Barry's stomach. You have already mentioned this earlier.
I have the same remarks to make about the following chapters. I did like the confrontation with the kids by the bike racks. I would be interested to see if these characters make an appearance later on in the story.
The dialogue is generally fine, although you may like to revisit the conversation between the children and their parents. Some of this is a little unbelievable as it tends to be used to provide information, some of which is not really needed.
I found your story was well-written with no obvious mistakes and typos that I could see. This is a good start and with a few minor changes to the amount of detail provided and a look at the dialogue it could be tightened up nicely. I hope you don't mind me giving you honest comments. Please feel free to ignore any you feel are not useful.
Well done and good luck with your writing.
Julia
Shadow Jumper

Wussyboy wrote 724 days ago

Hi Scott! I've just read your first few chapters, and really enjoyed them. You've got an ease with dialogue and characterisation that I personally find very appealing. I also like the 'message' that competition for its own sake is meaningless, it should have a point. If I have one suggestion, it is this: how about giving that 'grand prize' a more...ahem..."dramatic" point? I mean, if you made your central MC DESPERATE to win - maybe to save his folks from eviction, or to prove he's not a loser geek? - you might have a stronger 'hook' to the book. As it stands, as suggested by JMF, you may lose a lot of non-sport oriented readers. I'm thinking films like 'Cool Runnings' or 'Bend it Like Beckham', where we really WANT the 'poor desperate underdog' to win - regardless of what sport/competition it is!

High stars, and will be back.

Joe Kovacs
Ginger the Buddha Cat

(my young friend Tristram Kane was home-schooled. Maybe approach him for an exchange read?)

JMF wrote 724 days ago

Sorry I've taken a little longer than anticipated to do this. I've read all you have uploaded here. First of all I really like your pitches. They are succinct and to the point without giving too much away. I think you may have taken a different approach to a familiar theme, which is great. You write well but I have a number of points to make about you writing. I hope you take them in the spirit they are intended - to be helpful!
It may be that your sports-orientated first chapter may put off some readers. I know a lot of children are keen on sport, but maybe not to that extent and there are some who just aren't at all. There is nothing wrong with starting off with talking about the sport, after all, it explains about their competitive spirit, but I think you could cut down the amount of time you spend on talking about the awards they've won. You could also cut down some of the other detail which is not really needed and slows the pace down for the reader. For example, you could cut down the description of the showcase of trophies, the description of where they sat for dinner. Putting too much detail can be distracting for the reader. I also think you could cut out the explanation of the no 7 on Barry's stomach. You have already mentioned this earlier.
I have the same remarks to make about the following chapters. I did like the confrontation with the kids by the bike racks. I would be interested to see if these characters make an appearance later on in the story.
The dialogue is generally fine, although you may like to revisit the conversation between the children and their parents. Some of this is a little unbelievable as it tends to be used to provide information, some of which is not really needed.
I found your story was well-written with no obvious mistakes and typos that I could see. This is a good start and with a few minor changes to the amount of detail provided and a look at the dialogue it could be tightened up nicely. I hope you don't mind me giving you honest comments. Please feel free to ignore any you feel are not useful.
Well done and good luck with your writing.
Julia
Shadow Jumper

Owen Scott wrote 727 days ago

Hi Tod,
Thanks for taking the time to read and being the first person to comment on my book!
Thanks also for the correction. I have fixed it. I will think about "chewing on gum."
And I will have a look at your book soon.
Scott

Hi Scott,
I just read the first chapter. I think this looks very promising! You introduce topics that parents and schools will appreciate, I expect, and have compelling characters.
Minor errata you might consider fixing:
I thought the sentence in which dad "chewed on gum" sounded awkward.
And just an editing error: "looked straight at us while she said talked".
Other than that, I think you're in good shape. Good luck with this!
--Tod Schneider
The Lost Wink

Tod Schneider wrote 727 days ago

Hi Scott,
I just read the first chapter. I think this looks very promising! You introduce topics that parents and schools will appreciate, I expect, and have compelling characters.
Minor errata you might consider fixing:
I thought the sentence in which dad "chewed on gum" sounded awkward.
And just an editing error: "looked straight at us while she said talked".
Other than that, I think you're in good shape. Good luck with this!
--Tod Schneider
The Lost Wink

1