|Hi, I thought this was a really great piece of writing. I have gone through the whole piece and put some suggestions in brackets for you. If anything causes offence please accept my apologies as none was intended. I don’t normally go into detail in a review like this however I really think you have a real talent and picking up a few of the tricks of the trade will only serve to help. Anyway if you disagree with anything just ignore it, after all I just a forty year old Englishman and what do I know. Here goes.
I am a direct descendant of Mary Boleyn (through the Carey line); she was the sister of Queen Anne Boleyn, the mistress of King Henry VIII, and more recently--the main character in the novel “The other Boleyn Girl.” But, if you’re anything like my childhood peers, you should also know that I have read every Dr.Seuss book ever written--you can even ask my mom! (Nice link, it makes the reader comfortable that you are not setting yourself on a pedestal. You might consider changing “But” to However.)
Even though my family had been rooted in the US since the 1700's, as a young girl—I was always proud to comment on my royal connection to England. I'm sure, more than once, I backed up my Superiority/inferiority/Whatever complex on the playground with an "Oh yeah...well I can LEGALLY use an English Royal Coat of Arms, You can (to speed up the writing, remember that most readers have the attention span of a gnat, drop the “You can”) imagine how this comment was received by a group of second graders in Southern California; I’m almost positive that( again for speed drop “I’m almost positive”) if my ancestral lines had squiggled their way to Dr. Seuss I would have had a lot more clout amongst my shrewd peers.
It was a winter day when I discovered that my bloodline was blue'ish; (,) (where possible it is best not to repeat words, other than THE, AND Etc, in any adjoining sentence. It makes a piece jar for some reason. Perhaps replace “I distinctly remember it was winter” with “I remember,” --not because (lose this “because” so that you can use it in the next sentence and replace it with “that”) there was ever any differentiation (difference, perhaps in stead of differentiation. Your word is actually more correct however it doesn’t flow as well) in the Southern California season's, but because it was the time of year when the holidays were all smushed (nice word)together. I had walked directly home from school in eager pursuit of my (would you say “in eager pursuit of my” if your target is stationary? Perhaps say “eager to find”) mom--and found her seated in our kitchen gingerly spooning gooey food (swop food for stuff so that you can reuse it in your quote) from a jar labeled "BABY FOOD" into my sister Katie's mouth (perhaps choose a word to describe her mouth, although it is good as it stands). (A convention commonly used is that when a new person begins to speak or is discussed, you should start a new paragraph) My mother greeted me with the usual "Hi sweetheart, how was your day at school?" (Para) "It was good, (use a full stop to clarify that the next statement is talking about the text following it.)" I excitedly continued, " and for my homework, I get to make a tree for our family!" (para)She stopped feeding Katie's plump face and looked at me intently--"A tree?" she said(you don’t need to say “she said” because the sentence before tells us who is speaking). “My teacher said it’s not s’posed to be a real tree—just one on paper.” I then carefully opened my beloved Pee Chee folder http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pee_Chee_folder
(Nice use of an inserted link) and produced the entirety of its contents--a single piece of paper, and proudly handed it to my mom. (I see the gag but it might be phrased sharper, something like, “and removed the sum total of its content, a single sheet, which I offered proudly to Mom.
First, I want to thank all the parents that purchased Pee Chee
folders at our last book drive. With the proceeds we were able
to buy a beautiful bouquet of flowers for our (? ' )Principal's,
Ms. Walker,(/?)unfortunate stay at StoneyFace Asylum. (cute, perhaps make it more oblique; something like “as she begins her long road to recovery at the secure care centre.)
Second, I'm excited to introduce a Historical/Spatial Thinking
Skills project to our 2nd Grade curriculum this year.
The objective of this project is for your child to gain a better
understanding of the terms: Past, Present, and Future.
You will need to assist your child in:
- Making a Family Tree
- Creating a Family Timeline
Additional resources to further assist your child might include:
- Old and Recent Family Photographs
- Family Recipes, Customs, or Traditions
- Family Artifacts
Miss T. Chur (nice letter, it carried just the right tone)
After reading my teacher’s note, my mother started mopping up Katie’s face while she told me “you’re very lucky, because many people have already written about our family’s history. Grandpa Carey’s Family Tree is connected to Kings and Queens in a country called England, and you my little princess can use an English Royal (unfortunately its not royal if it comes from Mary, sorry it’s the pedant in me coming out) Coat of Arms from that tree.” She bent over and kissed Katie on the nose and said “and you can use it too my little pumpkin-princess.” I asked “Can Billy use it too?” “Yes, even Billy can use it.”
Just then, we heard a thud from the front door being flung open and connecting with the entry-way wall. My brother Billy ran past the kitchen in a beeline for his bedroom, shouting—“Hey Mom! Dwayne’s got a new Erector set http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erector_Set
and we’re gonna build something and blow it up!” (para)My mother shouted back “What are you going to blow it up with?”( perhaps add a description i.e. “a worried look flickering across her face.) (para)“Don’t worry, we’re just gonna use our hands.”
They continued to shout between Billy’s room and the kitchen. My mother asked “How was your day at school?”(para) “Boring! same as yesterday...same as tomorrow…,” (Para)and then she reminded him—(Perhaps remove “and then she reminded him” and put “she reminded him” at the end of the sentence.) “please do not forget to put your school clothes in the hamper!”
As I sat at the table watching my mom struggle with the release latch on Katie’s eating-throne--Billy entered the kitchen wearing his not-so-tough Toughskins http://www.searsarchives.com/brands/toughskins.htm...
; they lost their original toughness when my mom had to reinforce the knees with iron-on patches. (? re-write)( It is pretty good, just see if you can shorten it, keep the essence though it’s a nice idea) Billy (You have used his name already so replace with “He”) quickly walked to the refrigerator--and with one hand on the door handle and the other used for leverage on the countertop, he was able to break into the extra-vacuum sealed capsule and continue (This is a bit wordy, perhaps replace with something like “he broke the doors seal and in so doing continued”)the ongoing close relationship between the backside of our refrigerator door and our stove.(/?) (Para)“William!” my mother scolded, “can you please be more careful!” (Para) “Sorry Mom, but I can’t…or I’ll starve to death.”
He plucked out two slices of American cheese from a package labeled “CHEESE SLICES” and plopped them between two slices of bread, and then ran out of the house leaving the refrigerator door wide open. (I think you need to take out one reference to labelled, perhaps remove this section “from a package labeled “CHEESE SLICES”” and change the second reference to slice with pieces of bread)
By then, Katie had been freed from her throne and was tugging at her bib, “Off! Mama! Off!” (para)When my mother began to untie Katie’s bib (replace “Katie’s bib” with “it”, she looked at me and said, “Sweetie, can you close the refrigerator door for your brother, please?”(Para) I reacted with a loud sigh—as I (Change “-As I” for “and”) rolled my eyes, and (delete and) then limply got up and closed the door. (para)My mother responded to my lethargy with, “I’ll tell you what, after I change Katie’s diaper, put her down for a nap, and get dinner prepared--we can get started on your Family Tree homework (personally I would lose the word homework as it is already established). So, why don’t you go outside and play until I call you?”
As I got up to change into my play clothes (Your character has already got up, she may have sat down again but it will cause a little confusion in the readers eye), I asked, “Did Billy get to do family tree homework when he was in second grade?(insert “) (para) “Nope, you’re the first one in our family (lose “in our family” perhaps)to do family tree homework.” (para)Delighted with her answer, I planted a big kiss on Katie’s chubby cheek and skipped to my bedroom with a huge grin on my face.
I quickly changed out of my school clothes and placed them in the hamper. Just as I was about to walk out of my bedroom, my mother came in with my wailing sister and handed me a miniature boot, (para)“Here, Katie had this in her mouth. Honey, we need to be careful with small objects now that she’s scooting around.” (para)“Ughh! Mom, I really think my Barbie’s shoes are starting to walk away on their own."(is this sentence a bit grown up?) (para) As she left the room, she added, “Just remember to be more careful…” I reached into my closet and wheeled out my Barbie Country Camper http://vintage-toys.blogspot.com/2007/12/vintage-1...
. (much as I like your links it might distract the reader from the story, especially if it is for something that requires little explanation) I then extracted the bathing suit clad Barbie, who was sitting dutifully in the driver's seat, and(I would drop this “and” as it reoccurs later) pushed the white plastic lace-up boot onto her rigid foot--and drove her back to Closet Campland. I closed my bedroom door, as a preventative stray-shoe measure, on my way outside. (Nice phrase)
First, I went next-door to Old Lady Rose’s house and tugged an orange off one of her trees (don't worry--she encouraged us to do so). I sat on the curb and enjoyed my juicy snack as I watched (you could shorten this by dropping “I watched”) Billy and his friend, Dwayne, play (becomes “played”) in Dwayne’s yard across the street. And then, I went to the other-next-door, the Bourg’s house, and broke off a fat piece of their Ice Plant http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpobrotus_edulis
(ref my earlier comment about interrupting the flow)
(shhh--cross your heart you won't tell em). Using the Ice Plant as a disposable pencil, I scrawled across the sidewalk.
m y f a m l y c o a t t r e
I was just about to go and break off another piece when the Bourg’s car pulled into their driveway—so (to keep the momentum I would drop the “so”, it’s often a word that can be done away with) I froze, dropped my worn plant pencil, and walked (is there a more descriptive word you could use here? I.e. skipped, scurried, etc.) over to where Billy and Dwayne were. (Again I would drop “where Billy and Dwayne were” and replace it with “the boys.
I approached Dwayne's yard and heard Billy say, "Okay Dwayne(people rarely use each others name when there are just two of them), let ‘er rip!” I took a seat in the grass next to a G.I. Joe doll http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G.I._Joe
(Link ?) and watched the show; (to help the flow I would swap the semi colon for a full stop. And remove the “the”) the a gyro-powered motorcycle carrying an Evel Knievel doll http://i185.photobucket.com/albums/x45/DrDeath_pic...
(You have got me thinking about these links, they are usefull to a reader who has few cultural references but overall I do think that they detract from your wonderful story), climbed a 2ft. ( perhaps lose the comma) plywood ramp, jumped over a flower pot, and landed smack in the middle of a brick wall. "Oh man! that was the best one yet!" shouted Billy.(para) I picked up the G.I. Joe and asked (you don’t need to say “and asked”)"can I play dolls with you guys?"(para) "They're not DOLLS--they're ACTION FIGURES!" the boys barked in unison(nicely observed by the way). (para)"Can I play action figures with you then?" (para)"No, they're only for fourth grade boys," Billy scoffed. (para)I looked behind me and saw a bazillion (great word, I might borrow that one if I may?) little metal parts and an instruction booklet with a lot of words on it scattered across the grass. I asked—(I would lose the “I asked” the reader knows who is speaking and the question is self explanatory) "Billy, did you already blow-up the defector set?"(Para) “It’s an EEE-rek-tor set…and NO!...it was too hard to build. Go away!" (you have the boys voices just right)
"I don't have to go away." I straightened G.I. Joe's shirt and continued, "Did you know that Grandpa Carey has a tree in his yard?"
Billy snatched Joe out of my hands, and with a confused look on his face said "So, a lot of people have trees in their yards."
"I know, but Grandpa Carey has a tree that grows coats with arms, and we get to use them."
"That's so stupid!" Billy snapped. "First of all, coats don't grow on trees. And second of all, ALL coats have arms. If a coat dosn't have arms...then it's a vest."
I abruptly ( just a taste thing, but I would take out the “abruptly” as you then go on to say “indignant” the second word sets the scene really well on its own.)turned and walked indignantly towards my (our instead of my as one character is the brother) house, and when I reached my (the/ my) front yard, I shouted back across the street--"Nuh uh! Ponchos don't have arms either."
~I'm slowly workin on the rest of it~
1. Family History
5. My completed homework
I hope my comments haven’t caused any offence. It is rare for me to go through a piece line by line like this, please take it as the compliment that it genuinely is. If I didn’t think you had it within you to be an outstanding writer I would not have bothered. There is a lot more that writers of far greater competence than I can teach you here on this wonderful site. Can I recommend a group called the Holding Pond if you do a search on WDC you will find it. I am a member and the team there are really great. If you decide to join just tell them that I think you are very much worth supporting.
Do please keep writing, and if you need help just ask.