Nathan Bransford, Author


Monday, June 21, 2010

Query Critique Monday

Monday! And this time we're having a query critique.

We won't be having a critique next Monday as I'll be in the fair City of New York, and posting will be sporadic.

Below is the query, and I'll be back later with a new post containing my critique. Please please please remember the sandwich rule when offering your thoughts: positive, very very constructive thoughts, positive.

As of this posting there were 126 comments in the Query Critique thread - the first was mine. I searched for a number between 2 and 126 on random.org, and the winner was.....

72!

Here's childrenschampforlife's query:

SUBJECT: Query: The Pompous Pachyderm, middle-grade-Exclusive

"The Pompous Pachyderm." A big nose bigot of an elephant who comes of age in a place that doesn’t respect animals. He is a selfish, uncivil character who treats his fellow “inmates” at the Calamity Zoo of California like moldy cantaloupe.Watching as his parents are sold to a circus while becoming separated from the only trainer he ever knew, furthers his inclinations that he doesn’t need anyone’s help, and he shouldn’t have to help anyone . Espen shows that elephants are not only one of the largest land mammals on earth but also may have the largest ego.

The animals of Calamity Zoo of California, end up in various predicaments which our protagonist refuses to help them with. When Espen mistakes a ball, for his favorite snack (cantaloupe) he gets it stuck in his trunk. He then tantrums and treks off in search of the other animals for help. While on his one man (mammal) fellowship he notices the zoo is on fire. Espen then lumbers to where the other species of life are to get him and the zoo some help. The animals all spring to action and work together to get the ball out of Espen's trunk, so he can help put out the fire.

I work within the field of Early Child Hood Education and currently serve as an Associate Teacher. I am also a father of 2 and integrate Erik Erikson’s psychosocial development theory when creating material for children. Thank you for considering “The Pompous Pachyderm”






38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds fun, but I noticed there wasn't a word count.

Chuck H. said...

Guess I'm the early bird today. My comments will be short and sweet. I think the premise is great but this query is in need of TLC. It took me a couple of attempts to realize that Espen is the elephant's name. And I don't know if the tone of an MG query should match that of the material being queried, but that would put me off if I were the agent. As I said, the premise interests me but the query really doesn't.

Karla Nellenbach said...

This does sound like something fun and interesting as MG. However, I feel like the first paragraph is a little on the long side and could be cut down some. The second paragraph is pretty good and gave me a good idea as to what the story is, but the last paragraph seemed like an afterthought and something completely separate. Plus there was no word count listed. :) All in all, I'd be interested in reading it.

Anonymous said...

I'm far more worried about the spacing issues.

Nathan, when you posted this, did you perhaps make formatting errors?

There's a space before a period that shouldn't be there. And there's also NOT a space after a period where there should be one! An amazing gaffe!

I'm assuming this would be an instant rejection?

I'm not trying to be mean - but to get the absolute fundamentals wrong like that... wow.

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

No, the formatting errors are the author's.

Kimberly Kincaid said...

I agree with Chuck and Karla- the premise is quite interesting, and I will say that I love both the title and the name of the zoo (Calamity Zoo- just awesome!). Your lead sentence threw me a little bit though, and I had to read it a few times to actually get the gist. You have the potential for some really great hooks, especially considering what you're writing about- I think I just wanted to see more here to really "wow" me.

A few of the sentences were a little awkward, but I think that will only take a bit of fiddling and fine-tuning. Have you tried reading this aloud for flow? It's a trick that I like to use with my queries and manuscripts when I fine-tune and seems to work nicely. Sometimes what we read on paper takes on a whole new meaning when read aloud.

It's a nice problem to have when the bones of your story are good, the idea seems engaging, but the words need shuffling, drafting and fine-tuning- it means you're definitely onto something, and I think you really are. Best of luck as you query!

Josin L. McQuein said...

From reading this, I could tell the person who wrote it was an academic, even the "pyschosocial development" stuff comes through in the language and tone, and honestly, I think that's the biggest obstacle with the pitch here.

It's a blatant "I'm going to teach you a lesson" presentation. You need to adjust the wording so the story is the star, not the lesson you want to impart.

Sure it's great to teach kids not to be bigots, but for storytime, they can't know you're teaching them that.

The first paragraph is all tell. Show me his bigotry through something he does. (Also, point out that Espen is the elephant's name straight off.)

I'd cut the entire 1st paragraph, and the 1st sentence of the 2nd. Start the query with Espen's actions and the ball/cantaloupe dilemma, which is funny. From there, you can capitalize on the book's tone and voice.

Give specific examples of the other characters' calamities and how Espen doesn't help. Right now, he sounds maybe selfish, but not bigoted.

The plot sounds kind of young for MG. I could see this as a PB (picture book), and I think it would do well in that medium, but not as something that would catch an older kid's attention without illustrations. Either way, the language isn't suited for young children.

The story is cute, and can probably be crafted as a lesson story without slamming the lesson down like a text book. Give the readers a reason to care about Espen. Make them laugh at him or cheer for him or want to smack him with a moldy banana.

With the qualifier that I don't know your story, I'd suggest something like:

Espen the elephant knows everything. Just ask him, he'll tell you all about it and then tell you why you're wrong... even if you're not.

Giraffes are too tall. Penguins too cold. And don't even get him started on the lions thinking they can claim the title King of the Jungle over him. There's no one good enough to be Espen's friend, so he doesn't bother making any, and that's where his trouble starts.

When Espen mistakes a ball, for a cantaloupe, it gets it stuck in his trunk. He tantrums off in search of the other animals for help that never comes. No one wants to bother with Espen. But when the zoo catches fire, and Espen's trunk is the only way to put it out, the animals have to find a way to get rid of the cantaloupe so Espen can put out the flames.

Carol Riggs said...

This novel sounds like a wild romp of zaniness and "madcapery." I also really like the clever and catchy phrase, "big nose bigot of an elephant." You have some quirky descriptions here that are intriguing, such as the animals being "inmates" of the zoo, having the elephant possess an ego as big as his physical size, etc.

The main thing that struck me was that while I could easily see this as an early reader or a picture book manuscript, I felt rather dubious about its appropriateness for a middle grade audience. Middle grade readers are 8-12; this feels more like a story for younger readers, say, ages 5-9. I'm getting that impression due to a number of things, such as the nature of the book's main conflict, the fact that the main characters are an elephant and a cast of other animals, and other details such as Espen's tantrums. You probably need to add Espen's name to the second sentence, too, or the editor/agent would not know who "Espen" is by the time you get to the first paragraph's last sentence. (Such as "A big nose bigot of an elephant [named Espen] who comes of age…."

If you do submit to an editor or an agent, please tidy up the spacing/punctuation beforehand; you have no space after cantaloupe and an extra space after anyone in the first paragraph; additionally, there are some unnecessary or misplaced commas and an omitted period at the end of the letter. (And novels should be presented as italicized/underlined rather than in quotes like a short story.) Fixing these things will gain you a better first impression, similar to wearing clean and unwrinkled clothing to your job interview.

Your teacher credentials are perhaps important to mention, but the fact that you are a father of two is probably not important. All in all, I think you have an interesting character here with Espen, and it seems you've put a lot of thought into his motivations and how they affect his actions and personality.

Carol Riggs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Livia said...

I love the alliteration in the title here, and the story is very cute. I had a couple thoughts, most of which have already been mentioned.

1. The voice and wording here is very mature -- sounds more like a summary for librarians than something for kids. It would be helpful if you phrased the pitch in a more kid friendly way. You have some great phrases here -- "treats his fellow inmates like moldy cantaloupe" is awesome. But other phrases like "furthers his inclinations" sound very dry and academic.

2. I also agree that the plot sounds a bit young for middle grade. I see it more as a picture book. Perhaps if you approach the story and the moral subtly, you might be able to pull it off as middle grade, but most of the MG books I've seen have more complex plots than this.

All in all, cute story, perhaps rethink your target audience and adjust accordingly.

Maya said...

I thought a pompous elephant sounded funny, though it also seemed more children's then MG.

I found a lot of improperly placed commas, making the query hard to read. In addition, the author has some work to do to rearrange the clauses and improve the general flow. I was not a fan of the gratuitous use of parentheses. I suggest shorter sentences and less asides. Try reading the query aloud and see what phrases you trip over.

Finally, there was no word count listed. Good luck to the author!

Anonymous said...

Ditto Joslin's comments.
Also, I would like the protagonist to be more sympathetic. I need to know why I want to follow his story, so I wonder: what is the hook? (Instead you give me the resolution.)

Also, his parents get sold is pretty brutal for a kid's book. He's a lost baby?

Also, how did he get so egotisitcal? Horton Hears a Who and Dumbo come to mind and they both had me on hello and they had things to learn/teach too.

I think it is difficult but worthwhile work to separate "lesson" from "story" and then when the reader grasps it on their own, they get to feel smart too.

Hope this is helpful.

You are brave and I applaud you for sharing and wish you the very best with this project!

Anonymous said...

Gah! The (second) Anonymous' and Josin's comments are rather lean as far as the sandwich-making of constructive feedback. Anonymous: no positives whatsoever. Josin: two scrappy tidbits saying the "story is cute" and the "dilemma is funny." Come on,guys, please be a little more constructive and kind?

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

I think the tone of their critiques was okay, but yes, everyone please remember the bread in the sandwich.

Anonymous said...

Hi again.

I meant my comments to be supportive and apologize if they seem not to the last anon or the author.

I applaud the author and think this story has much merit and potential.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Yay for middle grade! And I'm in awe of anyone who submits their pieces for public critique.

I think the tone of this may be more adult than MG, but perhaps that is just the query, not the MS? But still, it would be good to give a child-appealing feel to your words. Also: I'm unsure what middle-grade-Exclusive means. As in, excluding-others-type story? I'm not sure that this is a genre.

My fav part: the moldy cantaloupe. Best of luck! :)

Jamie said...

Not to parrot the above comments, but the premise itself is sound. However, the presentation needs work.

There are several times within the query where the author assumes the audience knows what is going on. For example, it is assumed that the reader will intuit that Espen is the protagonist and the elephant.

I think, in this case, that less would be more. Sum up the story: Espen the bigot elephant is sent away from his family and friends to join the attractions at the Calamity Zoo. Try as he might to remain above his fellow animals, Espen soon realizes that he needs them as much as they need him.

I also think that the bio could use a touch up. Again, I would summarize it further. "I am not only a father of 2 but also an Associate Teacher trained in the Erikson method."

My biggest advice here is to pare it down. You don't need the parenthetical "mammal"... just write "One-Mammal fellowship".

While the story itself interests me, the writing the query itself leaves me a bit wary. I don't know that I would ask to see more based on that.

Thank you for sharing your query with us.

Anonymous said...

I like the premise and it sounds like not only could it be a fun read, it could also have a moral to the lesson.

The first sentence makes me not like the charcter but then when I find out what happened to his parents, he gains my sympathy. I'm not sure I would have started off with the more negative aspects though.


I found the second sentence rather passive.I also was confused who Espen was, so that should be fixed.

Word count would help. But all in all, with some work, this could be a fun read!

D. G. Hudson said...

I agree with the comments about this being for younger readers, not middle grade. It just seems a bit young in the premise & main character (the elephant) for an older group.

I don't think the author should include the detail about what he's incorporating (Erickson's theory)in the query letter or in the blurb or pitch. That would put me off buying the book for my child. Maybe it would be something to include if the book were non-fiction, as a way of showing credentials.

Thanks for offering your query - #72, we all can learn from Nathan's critique.

Pete said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nathan Bransford said...

Alright folks, already a warning about Sandwich Rule.

Dan said...

What is the sandwich rule?

Nathan Bransford said...

dan-

Come on now, it's in the main post.

Erica75 said...

Oh great, I'm leaving a comment right after the warning! Luckily, I'm almost always exceedingly nice and constructive :) I love the elephant premise, but my worry is the appeal to today's child for another stuck-in-the-zoo-lost-my-parents idea. From Dumbo to Madagascar, it's been done in movies (and books). BUT since this is a query critique and not necessarily for the story - you can see the formatting errors, I hope, and also the mistake in not referencing his name right away (I thought Espen was your name at first). I actually liked your query voice and found it fun. You are missing the word count and maybe that's contributing to some cofusion as to why this you've chosen to market this as MG. If it's appropriate, I'd suggest calling it a chapter book and targetting the younger elementary crowd (6-9, roughly).

And at the end with the credentials. I'm a master-degreed early childhood teacher with 15 years of experience (and 2 kids of my own), but I don't put that in my queries. It could very possibly apply if I were querying a picture book, since as an EC teacher, I've read thousands of them and have a good idea of the market. However, it has nothing to do with my MG and YA writing. Think about if it has anything to do with yours, especially since your title is "Associate Teacher," which doesn't require a degree (at least in WI, where I teach, although it could mean something else where you are). Rather than the credentials and the researching reference, could you include a paragraph including some comparable novels/chapter books? Maybe someone who's style you represent or a book with similar attributes that has done well in the recent market?

Congratulations on entering and getting some feedback! I hope you find it all helpful and constructive!

patlaff said...

Bread: Love the story idea; hosing down the zoo with a trunkful of water will make a great climax.

Meat: Lots of simple mistakes in the query makes me believe there'll be lots of similar mistakes in the novel.

Bread: As the father of a 12- and 9-year old, I agree with the other comments that targeting a younger audiance will make this far more marketable.

Suze said...

I think Josin's version is awesome! That's a much more tone-appropriate way to convey your story - which incidentally sounds like terrific fun.

Easier Read than Done said...

This is a great premise. I read the first line and had to take a call. While on the call, I was looking forward to getting back to the query.

When I returned, I was disappointed because I did not think the query lives up to the story you are trying to describe. There is so much potential with the premise, and I know you create a tension filled dilemma when Espen needs help from those he considers beneath him.

But in regards to the query, to quote AI's Randy and to continue with the animal theme, "I'm just not feeling it, dog."

I would try to eliminate most of the passive voice, cut out some of the clunkier sentences, and streamline it to focus on Espin's challenges.

Again, I love the premise, setting and potential. It's a great vehicle to teach lessons about the dangers of bigotry. But I think you need to make it a little less Erikson, and a little more Seuss.

Amethyst said...

The second paragraph's description of the story intrigued me. I laughed at the thought of Espen getting a ball stuck in his trunk because he mistook it for a cantaloupe. Based on what I garner from the 2nd paragraph, the story can and may be both funny and serious at the same time. Not sure if that's what the author is going for me would be fun.

I worry about the first paragraph because there is so much telling in it and would not draw me, as an agent, in right away. As for the last paragraph, I don't know if including that the author uses "Erik Erikson’s psychosocial development theory" is necessary. Besides the fact that I do not know what that theory entails, children's books are known to be didactic for the most part and should not need to be restated. I believe the story will speak for itself and what it intends to teach.

Also, the tone of the 1st and 3rd paragraph are so serious that it takes away from the entertaining glimpse of what the story is about.

The query needs some work but I think once the story comes into the forefront of the query, I think this can stand to be a decent one.

Good luck! :)

Annalee said...

I love the name of the zoo (which reminds me a little of Kalamazoo, but it a funny way).

I do have a question, though, which is, how did he get a ball stuck in his trunk? Was he trying to suck it up through his nose?

I'm actually asking, not trying to be snarky. I was under the impression that elephants use their trunks to kind of "scoop" things into their mouths, as opposed to using them like straws. Except for water, but of course, every planet needs a creature that will drink out of its own nose.

Now, that's a pretty nitpicky detail to which I'm sure there are a thousand solid fixes (including "Annalee, you are wrong, I researched elephants extensively for this and they do indeed suck things up through their nose"). But now I'm really curious if elephants eat through their trunks.

James said...

I like the concepts in this proposal, but it needs some nuts and bolts work, particularly with regard to commas, dangling modifiers, and use of the passive voice. A quick example:

“The animals of Calamity Zoo of California, end up in various predicaments which our protagonist refuses to help them with.”

The comma should be after the modifying clause, rather than in the middle of it.

“The animals of Calamity Zoo of California end up in various predicaments, which our protagonist refuses to help them with.”

Because it's passive, this sentence still reads strangely. You can rework it to emphasize its main action, “protagonist refuses,“ instead of “animals end up.”

“Espen repeatedly refuses to help the animals of Calamity Zoo of California.”

There are more interesting sentences to be sure, but this one emphasizes your intended subject: the relationship between Espen and the animals.

While it's true that there is nothing more boring than the dynamics of grammar, it'll save you a lot of heartache. Take it from me, a man who used to insert commas from the barrel of a shotgun.

Clean up the technical problems, and you should be in good shape.

Rebecca said...

I think this could be a fun book for a younger audience. It sounds like you layer in the notion of learning to work with others and value their differences in some clever ways.

The first and second sentences are fragments and could easily be put together. The third sentence confused me. Is the zoo a place that does not respect the animals? If so, does your story address that?

You need to be careful about your punctuation. I found it helps to have someone neutral proof read for random commas and sentence construction. It can be difficult to see in your own work.

Pet peeve: "he then tantrums" is verbing a noun. Some folks won't care, but it jerked me out of what was a strong paragraph.

I like the ideas you have, but I think you'll have better luck if the tone is closer to that of the book. It might also benefit from not revealing how it ends.

I think your background is definitely a plus, especially if you target the book to younger children, though I don't think you need the job title. I don't know enough about the Erikson method to know if it will be helpful, but I doubt it will hurt!

With a little work, I am sure this could be a winning query. Good luck!

Erin Cabatingan said...

So, umm, I think I'm going to do a backwards sandwich here 'cause that's how it will work best, but I'll try to include lots of bread. Nathan's comments are posted, but I haven't read them yet so I don't know what he's said.

This obviously doesn't apply to all readers, but back when I was a MG reader, I hated stories where animals were the main characters. Hated them. Except for maybe Hank the Cowdog. So this premise for the story just completely turns me off. I'd never want to read an MG like this.

However, I think this would make one AWESOME picture book. I would love, love, love to read this as a picture book. I can just see this elephant walking around with a ball in his nose in the illustrations. How fun! And I can see my kids thinking it so hilarious that the elephant mistakes the ball for the cantaloupe. They would laugh so hard at that.

Picture book writing is a lot different from MG or short story writing, so make sure you research it lots before you write it. But, if you happen to decide to write this as a picture book, let me know when it's published 'cause I'd love to buy it.

And I'm not saying it wouldn't work as a MG, just that I'm not the person to critique it 'cause it's just not my thing.

Anyway, good luck with it. The idea is very fun.

And did you mean Childhood instead of Child Hood?

J. T. Shea said...

I like the alliteration. But a sentence with a preposition you ended with! Something up with which I will not put!

This isn't about Republicans, is it? Does Espen go to tea parties? I note the absence of any despicable donkeys...

Annalee, every planet needs a creature that will drink out of its own nose? Yes, but I don't think the Moon has one. Another task for Nasa? Or Jacob Wonderbar?

Seriously, thanks to Childrenschampforlife for putting his query up for scrutiny, and to Nathan for this whole exercise.

mfreivald said...

Hello, ccfl.

I'm just learning to query, too--with all the caveats that implies.

My visceral response to the character was positive. I found humor in this comical figure, and I expect to be delighted by him. (I like unsympathetic characters, so I wasn’t put off by it.)

Like others, I'd like the name up front.

I think "big nose bigot" could be improved. His bigoted nature seems central to the story, so I would use it as a subject or predicate rather than an adjective. There’s also an abundance of descriptors that don't enhance the flow of the letter. (Selfish, uncivil, large ego.) I suggest choosing the attribute with the most relevance and dropping the rest.

“Big nose" is redundant for an elephant, so I would drop it.

I think you should drop the title at the beginning. I think it's smoother to just get right into the meat of the story.

Following the above, your first line might be:
"Espen the elephant was a bigot who comes of age in a place that doesn't respect animals."

I like that, though it leaves some confusion: Is the primary focus bigotry, disrespect to animals, or coming of age?

I think what you have is suitable for some rising tension that hones in on the point. Start with the situation and follow it with the difficulty and then some indication of where the story is going to take us.

I'll give it a whack:
Espen the elephant lives in the Calamity Zoo where animals suffer continuous mistreatment. While other animals pull together to face their problems, Espen treats them all like moldy cantaloupe and isolates himself out of bigotry. Espen's hardships begin when a ball lodged in his trunk is too big for him to manage by himself and when a new danger makes the lives of the entire zoo depend upon him.

Obviously, this needs editing and more color, but the rising tension seems to reveal the strength of your story, without giving away too much. The rising tension also gives us reason to care about this seemingly unsympathetic character.

I went back and read Josin's version again, and she basically did what I attempted--only a heck of a lot better. My worry is that it's telling too much. I already think I see the story's end, and my instincts tell me a query should build interest in the ending, not reveal it.

I think you can dispense with the line about the parents. It doesn't really tell us why he's bigoted, and I don't think an explanation is necessary.

Because the approach above would make the plot points of your next paragraph unnecessary, it's left open for more meaningful descriptions of the work, and marketing comparisons that are helpful to an agent.

For example (just spitballing):
THE POMPOUS PACHYDERM is a __ word coming of age novel that explores how personal isolation can create more problems than it solves, and how discovering ones vulnerabilities can lead a person to a happier place shared with others. This novel will appeal to readers who enjoy Winnie the Pooh’s predicaments and Dr. Suess’s whimsy.

Obviously, you need to tailor it to what you think it explores, but this method conveys the root idea better--Or so I think, but I haven't even had a request for pages, yet, so take it for what it's worth.

I hope you get something helpful from this. It was a good exercise for me.

Overall, I like your idea, and I think your story would be fun to read.

By the way, "Early Child Hood Education" reads to me like educating people about children in the streets. I think you mean "Early Childhood Education." :)

Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

I was Anon #2, and I wasn't trying to be mean.

I was just surprised that a teacher had written this query - not spacing after a period? Honestly, that's a mistake I would've expected from a kid in the first grade, not from a professional teacher. I honestly thought that perhaps a mistake had been made when Nathan pasted the text into his blog (I've made mistakes like that myself many times - sometimes text just ends up getting garbled when you post or repost it on the internet). (I don't expect Nathan to make mistakes like that - but the blog had been posted literally minutes earlier, so I thought maybe he hadn't seen the formatting errors yet?)

Nathan, I thought, was being excessively kind when he suggested that the formatting and grammatical errors were hopefully due to sloppiness.

But do literary agents forgive writers for sloppiness?

I suspect that they don't.

I liked the idea of the elephant being jaded because its parents had been sold to a circus - but it was so disconcerting that a professional teacher had made these errors it was difficult for me to write anything truly positive. I would've been sugar coating my comments, and I just don't see how sugar coating something is going to help a person get published.

In any case, my original comment wasn't mean to be mean.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Okay! I had an awesome comment all written yesterday, and then the wireless connection got lost and my husband turned the computer off to try to fix it and my comment evaporated. SO, this is a (probably better) rewrite.

First, thanks for posting your query for dissection. It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there! I have read the other comments in this thread, but I haven't read Nathan's comments or any of the comments in that thread, so I apologize if I repeat those comments.

I really like the premise of your book - an arrogant elephant who gets himself into trouble and needs to ask for help to get out of it is a great idea. I think kids will think the idea of an elephant with a ball stuck in his trunk is hilarious. However, I echo the concerns that this might be more appropriate for a picture book than a middle grade novel, and I would encourage you to explore that option.

The main point that I wanted to bring up was that I think you need to work on the "voice" in your query. Your book sounds like a lot of fun, but your query describes your book without mirroring it, and is a bit dry to read. When thinking of your query, don't think of it as something you have to write that will describe your book; think of it as the first sample of your writing that an agent will see. If you make the style of writing in your query match the style and flavor in your book, then you give an agent a more accurate representation of what you are asking them to read, and you also give them more of an opportunity to get excited about your work before they even see the first page. The query becomes part of the package of your book.

I think you have a strong premise, and you chose some great descriptive phrases; "moldy cantaloupe" and "big nose bigot" stand out for me. If you can rework your query so that the voice is more true to your manuscript, than I think you'll be onto something.

Anonymous said...

I am not mean. Glad we got that over with. (I am dirct.)To me a snooty camel with the ability to spit out a fire is a better animal choice than an endangered species (and who doesn't love elephants) with a bad attitude. Is the elephant really a bigot or full of himself, has too much arrogance, and is selfish and independent?
It doesn't hang together for me when he's feeling superior and so NOT lonely when his family is sold and he's alone. That would make feel me sad and I would be lonely and WANT friends if I were him because elephants are herd animals with lifetime groups.
Camels aren't endangered and spit with gusto. I personally don't have a problem with the odd prep hanging around before a period. Depends on what your are trying say.
I don't care for the use of "tantrums" used as a verb. I would would change that myself. I hope that is nice and dirct. You have a good story and many liked it. The problems are easily fixed.

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