Thanks again to childrenschampforlife for submitting the query for critique! I really appreciate the author’s willingness to submit for public dissection.
There were some clever turns of phrase in this query and I think the spirit behind it feels jaunty and fun, though the premise and the tone seems a bit on the young side even for middle grade (ages 8-12). I wonder if it’s more geared to an early reader or chapter book? Mary Kole has a terrific post about the importance of knowing your category, as well as one about children’s book word counts and a category breakdown. It’s crucial that you know where your book will land and use the right terminology (and the word count is missing here).
But more troubling, I’m very concerned about the way this reads: the query has typos, sentence fragments, and improper punctuation. It is so so so so so important to put your best foot forward when querying an agent. And there are mistakes made here that authors just shouldn’t make. But if this doesn’t reflect the author’s best attempt and it’s simply sloppy, hopefully this will serve as a slap on the wrist.
Lastly – don’t send queries exclusively! Don’t do it! I don’t ask for an exclusive look, and if you query one agent at a time you’re going to be old and gray by the time you’re finished. Much better to send queries out in batches.
Overall, I enjoy the spirit and tone behind this, but worry about the presentation.
SUBJECT: Query: The Pompous Pachyderm, middle-grade-Exclusive
“The Pompous Pachyderm.” A big nosed bigot of an elephant who comes of age in a place that doesn’t respect animals sentence fragment. He Espen is a selfish, uncivil character who treats his fellow “inmates” at the Calamity Zoo of California like moldy cantaloupe I like this line, but I don’t know why inmates is in quotes – I think you can trust the reader to get the joke that he’s referring to the zoo animals as inmates._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 this is a worrisome sentence – it’s improperly punctuated, it reads far more adult than the rest of the query, and I’m afraid “furthers his inclinations that he doesn’t need anyone’s help” doesn’t make sense to me. There was also an extra space at the end . Espen shows that elephants are not only one of the largest land mammals on earth but also may have the largest egos I like this, though “one of the largest land mammals” is improper – it would either be “some of the largest land mammals” or “one of the largest types of land mammals”.
The animals of Calamity Zoo of California, unnecessary comma end up in various predicaments which our protagonist refuses to help them with another troubling sentence – “various predicaments which our protagonist refuses to help them with” reads very awkwardly. When Espen mistakes a ball, unnecessary comma 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) another place where I think the author should let the agent just get the human/animal joke fellowship he notices the zoo is on fire. Espen then too many “then”s lumbers to where the other species of life are to get him and the zoo some help. The animals all spring into action and work together to get the ball out of Espen’s trunk, unnecessary comma 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 not necessary to mention and integrate Erik Erikson’s psychosocial development theory when creating material for children also not necessary to mention – more important to focus on the storytelling than any sort of message that you’re trying to include. I would avoid any suggestion of an agenda . Thank you for considering “The Pompous Pachyderm”