Time Waits for Norman by Spencer Borup
In TIME WAITS FOR NORMAN (middle-grade, 50,000 words), 13-year-old Norman Gotcha loves to learn. Like how hummingbirds weigh less than a penny. Or how dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both duelers are registered blood donors. Or how the woolly mammoth was around when the Egyptian Pyramids were being built.
But when a strange turn of events, orchestrated by his eccentric Uncle Zep, sends Norman back in time—in his pajamas!—to ancient Egypt, he gets a lot more than all his learning could have prepared him for. Egyptians, woolly mammoths, mummies, and a chance to answer the ultimate question: Was the true architect of the pyramids the pharaoh, zombie mummies, aliens, or something else entirely? The answer—discovered despite the unrelenting pursuit of the government thugs who want their time machine back—will give him the most interesting fact he will ever learn, and teach him that it’s his turn to play a part in history.
And time is waiting.
The Book Doctors: I love all the facts in this pitch. I didn’t know that hummingbirds weigh less than a penny. Or that you have to be a blood donor to legally duel in Paraguay. I love it. I will probably open the pitch with “13-year-old Norman Gotcha…” Put the stuff about the title and the category and the word count at the very bottom, along with a couple of comparable titles. But I don’t really get a sense of Norman enough. What does he want to do with all these facts? Does he have a burning desire to understand what history was really like? I also really don’t like the lack of specificity in the phrase “a strange turn of events.” Either use your skills as a writer to explain the strange turn of events, or skip it. Because right now it’s just taking up space. It’s empty calories. And I don’t understand what events actually occur once he gets back in the days of yore. What happens to him? How are you going to make ancient Egypt’s pyramids and the woolly mammoth come alive for us? I don’t really like the anonymous government thugs as a villain. They don’t exactly send shivers up my spine. They seem like a bit of a cliché. I love the last line of this pitch. And I like the title as well. But if I’m an agent or publisher or reader for that matter, you don’t give me enough of a character or enough of the story for me to invest in.