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Query Critique #2

Greetings, all! Welcome to our series of free query critiques I'll be doing on the blog. If you'd like to see your anonymous query here, email it to

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Dear …,

Eleven-year-old Brian Gloveman is fed up with Murray Snorkle stealing his things and forcing him to do his math homework. [It took me another read to understand that Murray is making Brian do Murray’s math homework. It’s a good first hook if you can just clarify that a bit.] It would be fine if he was brave like fellow Misunderstood Genius [I like this capitalization. It makes it very much A Thing.], Violet Dimpleton, Bbut every time Brian opens his mouth to challenge Murray, the words stick in the back of his throat. [I would just join these two sentences.]

Everything changes the day Brian has a close encounter with a fragment of meteorite. [I like this, but I think it would be “hookier” if you switched the two fragments: “The day Brian has a close encounter with a fragment of meteorite, everything changes.” Take or leave that, but I kind of like it this way!] His hands heat things up, attract metal, and move stones without touching them. As he’s transformed into SUPER INTERGALACTIC SPACE BOY, [You can get a second opinion on this, but I wouldn’t ALL CAPS this. Although it’s the title of the book, it’s not in this context. So I would just do Super Intergalactic Space Boy.] he stands up to Murray for the first time. He does good deeds - like helping Violet win a competition, and impressive things – like making fire on Survival Day. [The jump between these sentences is a little abrupt. We’re expecting to hear how standing up to Murray goes! And just punctuation-wise, you’ll want to do this: “He does good deeds, like helping Violet win a competition, and impressive things, like making a fire on Survival Day.” You can use em-dashes in the place of the commas, but you’d need one at each comma.] So impressive that Kurt Zinger, the coolest grade-sixer, invites Brian to his party. At last, Brian has shed his reputation as a Misunderstood Genius.

He doesn’t mean for it to go to his head, but hHis new-found confidence is intoxicating, and it’s hard to resist doing things like melting a hole in Murray’s bag. However, Hhis selfishness, though, has alienated Violet, and may have cost him his powers. As Brian realizes he needs Violet, and not just for her brother’s skateboard, he has to decide whether a true superhero would choose power or friendship. [This is a relatively short book. This makes me wonder if you’ve gone too far into the book to leave us hooked. Rules of thumb (take them as you will) say either the first act or no more than 50% of the book should be included in your query. Here, you tell us a lot about the plot. I like the hook at the end, but I wonder if it’s too much of a forgone conclusion that he’s going to choose friendship, especially since you hint he’s lost his powers. I’d make the choice between the two a little harder here at the end. Though, I really love the “decide whether a true superhero” bit. It seems to really sum up the theme of the book. (Of which I enjoy seeing in the query, but that is an unpopular opinion!)]

A contemporary middle-grade novel of 28,000 words [This is on the really short end of MG novels], SUPER INTERGALACTIC SPACE BOY would appeal to readers of books like SHORT by Holly Goldberg Sloan. [Do you have a second comp? It’s always helpful to show a kind of intersection.]

I am a freelance writer and communications coach and a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). [Good! You don’t have to define SCBWI. If you’re sending this query to the right people, they’ll know what that is.]

Thank you for your time and consideration, [Excellent sign-off!]

In addition to running the OWC, I am a freelance editor and writing coach. Check out my website if you're interested in learning more!


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