Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Guess the Plot
1. The CIA hired entomologist Penelope Thorne as a spy because she claimed to have contacts in every city around the world. What will they do when they discover her contacts are all arachnids?
2. Charlotte’s little daughter has always walked a little on the wild side. Unlike her boring sisters she’d rather hang with the bad elements in the barnyard- the dung beetles, the crickets that play punk, and rats who goose the geese. But when Penelope starts writing curse words in her web, Wilbur decides it is time to put down his hoof.
3. The web of mistrust and deceit surrounding illegal aliens is explored as a teenaged girl compares her job working in a citrus grove to hiding from the Nazis.
4. Virile young men are disappearing near the darkest parts of Daniel Boone National Forest. These men seem to possess only one common trait: marvelously sculpted buttocks. Word has it there’s a coven of witches back in that forest, whose high priestess, Penelope, is actually a policewoman working under cover to free those beautiful buttocks from magic bondage and unmask the sexual suspects in . . . Penelope’s Web.
5. After working in web design for a decade, Penelope is tired of the internet. Between the porn sites and the pop-ups, even Google's lost it's spark. Now that her children are old enough to override every filter she's installed on their laptops, she's determined to develop a viable alternative to the Web, even if it means stealing cutting edge technology from her boss's nemesis, a mildly autistic guru of technology with an exotic monkey obsession.
6. Insanely jealous of her sister’s popularity, Penelope Cavatica plots her revenge: a magnificent web of her own designed to snare her sister’s little piggy friend and hang him upside down from the barn door for all to see. But before Penelope can implement her plan, she’s eaten by a disheveled talking rat.
María Elena Nuñez, a teenaged migrant farm worker presently working citrus orchards in Florida, befriends a camp school teacher who gives María The Diary of a Young Girl. María feels kinship to Anne Frank, as she reads, drawing parallels to her own life. [Man, picking these damn oranges is like being in Auschwitz.]
The Nuñez family travels with the Delgadoes, including Tomás, who seems as boring as Anne's housemate-in-hiding. María and her older brother Roberto become particularly disheartened when Roberto must quit school to work full days. María feels trapped in the migrant circuit just as Anne is trapped in hiding. She is bored with Tomás [Every time you mention Tomás you tell us he's boring; maybe you should talk about someone interesting.] and refuses to meet others, knowing they soon will go their separate ways.
María's little sister, Juanita, becomes frighteningly ill, [As did Anne Frank's sister Margot, in Bergen-Belsen. Coincidence? Or eerie parallel?] but the family has no money for treatment. Tomás save's Juanita's life by enlisting María's teacher who takes Juanita to her personal doctor. The doctor determines that Juanita has reacted to pesticides, confirmed by soil samples gathered by Tomás.
Now, María sees Tomás differently, and feeling [feels] more hopeful--as Anne had--but is crushed by the sudden, tragic end of Anne's story. While recovering from that shock, the Nuñez family is taken into custody by the [Gestapo] INS, since they are illegals (setting: 1970s). Tomás happens to be with them and is improperly taken since his [yellow star] green card is at home.
Later, Tomás is released and María is about to be returned to Mexico. Can she find the courage that she learned from Anne to overcome this sad turn and work to undo this harm? [Vague. What is the harm that can be undone? Is it courage that's required to undo it?]
Penelope's Web is a middle grades novel of 26,000 words. I hope will want to read the rest of the story. Thank you for your time.
Who's Penelope? Is this the best title?
A lot of characters to keep track of. The query can do without Roberto.
Does María keep a diary? It would be interesting to see this book written in diary form.7
Every so often someone compares something to Nazi Germany and justifiably takes heat in the press. A Googling of things that have been compared to Nazi Germany brings up 21st-century America, Australia's immigration centers, The British political system, the firing of Don Imus, Israel of today, Michael Moore's films, abortion rights advocates, China, Al Gore's film, tyrannical distribution of soup (on Seinfeld) . . . Godwin's Law
This could work if you subtly let the reader see the parallels between Anne Frank and María. Fear of discovery would feel similar, though the consequences are obviously different. But if you actually point out the parallels through María or a narrator you may take a lot of flak. No need to say "just as Anne is trapped in hiding" in paragraph 2. Or in the book. A thoughtful reader will get it. Just tell María's story; the fact that she's reading Anne Frank's diary should be enough. And maybe it'll inspire middle-graders to read the diary.