This query letter resulted in representation by Sarah Davies of The Greenhouse Literary Agency and a preempt, 3-book offer from Phoebe Yeh of Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House. Alison’s original book title was changed to MY NEAR-DEATH ADVENTURES, a fantastic middle-grade romp for anyone young at heart.
Dear Ms. Davies,
I’m sending this query because of your interest in middle grade fiction, but also as Kate Bassett’s critique partner, I have admired first hand the process you use when working with an author. Your editorial suggestions for Words and Their Meanings elevated Kate’s book and gave it depth, and you handled the submission process with such professionalism.
THE SOMEWHAT MANLY SCRAPBOOK OF LUMBERSTAN’S BIG WOODS ADVENTURE is a humorous middle-grade novel set in Michigan in 1896. Complete at 28,000 words, it includes actual 19th century illustrations and photographs reminiscent of MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN (without the creepiness). It will appeal to anyone who ever dreamed of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Greg Heffley having a love child, as well as those of us who find that idea a bit weird.
Like most eleven-year-old boys, Stanley Slater has his problems: a love of cuss words, an embarrassing inability to keep his thoughts to himself, and a house full of women. When circumstances force Stan, his checked-out Mama, and grouchy Granny to spend the winter of 1896 at his uncle’s lumber camp, Stan welcomes the chance to be surrounded by the ultimate symbol of manliness: lumberjacks. Trouble is, one of those lumberjacks killed a man, several are overly attentive toward his mother, and all of them have cooties. A grouchy, pinchy Granny and a know-it-all cousin who diagnoses Stan with everything from Quinsy to Spontaneous Combustion should make for a miserable winter, but the only disease Stan catches is River Drive Fever.
Unfortunately Granny has other ideas. Rather than allowing Stan to go on the river drive, she prefers torturing him with arithmetic and fixing his mama up with Stinky Pete, a known killer. Stan realizes his place as Man of the House may be in jeopardy, and he sets off to come up with a plan to win back his mama and earn the chance to go on the biggest, manliest adventure ever. Problem is, it might take something more than dotting whiskers on his face with ink to prove his manhood–something Stan’s not quite ready for, like wielding an ax, or facing facts: being the man of the family might not be as important as getting his sweet Mama back.
I am a former middle school English teacher whose family history traces back to Upper Peninsula logging camps. I hope to feature Stan (and Granny) in a sequel set during the river drive (The Very Wet Scrapbook of LumberStan’s Big River Adventure). Per submission guidelines, I’ve included the first five pages.
Thanks for your time and consideration,