It may be, in all my rush to bring this Poppy the Adventurer character to life, that I didn’t stop to think about how older children would perceive this character. All heart felt purposes aside, I want many children to benefit from this book and I’ve seen the way Poppy lights up during reading time when certain characters experience difficult times and, in the end, overcome them! So, the block is this: where is the beginning and does it properly read to a slightly older audience?
Here is an excerpt from the rough draft: (forgive me any grammar mistakes)
The beast shrank back into the darkness as Poppy the Adventurer inched closer. She held her sword high, wiping away sweat with a forearm. Suddenly, like ten diamonds cutting the air, the beast surged forward, claws out. Poppy rolled to the side, sheathing her weapon skillfully as she rose to her feet in one seamless motion.
“You’ll have to try harder than that!” cried Poppy.
“Please sit down!” howled the beast in an oddly human voice which sounded more like an older woman than a fearsome animal.
It was as Poppy was executing a triple-flip-downward strike that Mrs. Nelson swooped into view. Her small round glasses were hanging from her neck as she reach down, and, with her own skill, plopped Poppy the Adventurer in her seat. The dense jungle and swirling mists of That Other Place or TOP for short, melted away to reveal a very ordinary classroom with a very ordinary chalk-board. On that very ordinary chalk-board was a math problem.
“Can you help us get to the correct answer, Poppy?”
Poppy’s leather armor was gone, replaced with a pink t-shirt and blue-jeans. She examined the math problem: 2 + 2 = for several seconds. The other children began scribbling on their work books.
“The answer is four,” said Poppy holding four fingers in the air. “I know that, because I am four, but I’m turning five in a couple days.”
Mrs. Nelson smiled. “Well, happy birthday! What are you going to do for your birthday?”
At this Poppy jumped onto her chair , startling a younger girl with blonde pigtails into breaking her pencil tip; She pointed at the ceiling. “I,” she began in a booming voice, “am going on an adventure!”
Or should the beginning be like this:
The counter top was very high. Something fascinating was up there, just out of view, Poppy knew it. Being only a few feet high and a few years old, she tottered against the dishwasher and stared up at the ceiling
. The surface was warm. Hooking her plump toes into the narrow opening between the bottom plate and the main washer, Poppy suddenly sprouted a few inches taller and was feeling quite confident. But her toes became sore and weak and soon she was back on the linoleum tiles with both hands flat on the dials of the dishwasher. The small jewel-like lights blinked alive and the sound of running water filled the room. Moving her hands farther apart jammed more buttons and the water stopped. Whatever was up there must be really amazing, even more amazing than this dishwasher which she had helped daddy load a few days ago.
Daddy appeared i
n the doorway. He was smiling. He leaned against the frame and patted his knee. Poppy knew that meant hugs. Her feet stuck to the tiles just a little, making a silly sound as she walked. They both laughed. When all the hugs had been given, Poppy returned to the living room with her colorful books and large fluffy couch. Daddy returned to his office. Daddy is a writer.
The fascinating something on top of the counter wouldn’t leave Poppy’s mind. She closed her eyes, tried very hard to imagine what it was. Maybe it was candy, or crayons. She read her shapes book and stole the occasional glance at the kitchen doorway. If only she had a ladder. A ladder she thought, setting the book aside. She did not have a ladder but she did have a bright pink potty stool.