The Beta Club: The Tooth Fairy's Assistant (Middle Grade) - Agree with my Crit?



It's Beta Club Tuesday!  Middle Grade is on the agenda today.  Read on and let the author know what you think!  Remember, this will be one of the last Beta Clubs, so give it all you got.  ;)  

 For newbies:  If you haven't been here on beta club day yet, don't be afraid to jump in with your comments.  All feedback is welcome as long as it's constructive.  

Alright, please read through the author's excerpt, then provide your feedback in the comments.  My detailed critique is below.


Author: Penny (you know her as Too Cute to Be Very Interesting)  Visit her here.
Title: The Tooth Fairy's Assistant
Genre: Middle Grade


            “How much further Dad?”
            “Twenty five miles. Please Owen, stop pestering me. I need to concentrate on my driving.”
            Dad always has to concentrate extra hard on everything. Owen, be quiet, I’m thinking. Owen, settle down, I’m trying to focus. Owen, Owen, Owen. He does look a little more white-knuckled than normal though. Probably all the accidents on the road.
            It’s raining pretty hard, about as hard as it ever does in Washington. Usually it just mists here, like you’re all wrapped up in a cloud, but today it’s pouring. That must be the reason for all the problems they keep reporting on the radio. It’s really weird though, because it seems like we’re just barely ahead of the trouble every time.
….Watch for a jackknifed semi northbound on Route 3 at Finn Hill Road …if you can even get there folks, that twelve car pileup still blocks all traffic west of Silverdale…
We were turning onto a floating bridge now. From up here I saw that down in the middle of the water the bridge split in two. It looked like an hourglass, with a single lane for north and another lane for southbound traffic belling out and away from each other. On the right, the water was really choppy. On the left, it was as smooth as glass. Weird.
“Hey Dad, why would they build the bridge like that?”
My dad was so focused on the road ten feet in front of him that he hadn’t noticed what was coming. He looked up and gasped. “Oh no you don’t! I see exactly what you’re up to and I won’t have it! Do you hear me? I will not have it!”
“Not you Owen! Hang on!” We were almost to the split. Dad cranked the wheel and our car veered into the southbound lane, still headed north.
I may have screamed. I hope not, because I’m almost thirteen years old and screaming like a baby isn’t the coolest thing I can think of, but seriously. My dad has clearly just lost his mind. Or maybe not. He gunned the gas and drove like Jeff Gordon. We must’ve been going a hundred miles an hour, trying to beat the traffic that was about to enter the one-way lane and smoosh us head-on.
Out of the corner of my right eye, I saw a tractor-trailer flash past going the opposite direction. Wait…if we were going the wrong direction on the road and he was driving that way…he was going the wrong way in the lane we’d just been in!
I whipped my head around and watched, horrified, as the big rig smashed into one concrete barrier, then the other, then cartwheeled through the air, spilling its load everywhere. He’d been carrying chickens. Thousands of them flopped all over the roadway and into the water, beaks snapping and feathers flying.
Our car was going so fast that when Dad yanked us back into our own lane I swear we went up on two wheels, because the car slammed down and I bit the inside of my cheek.
“Are you okay Owen?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” I watched the accident scene behind us as we sped away. The feathers swirled in the oddest pattern, almost like a woman’s dress. I blinked and the image went away. A curve in the road made the bridge wink out of sight.
I faced forward, and my stomach turned. We’d be dead right now if it weren’t for my Dad’s quick reflexes. I hadn’t even seen that truck go the wrong direction on the bridge. “Nice driving Dad,” I said weakly.
“Thanks Son.” His hands were completely relaxed on the steering wheel. “We’re out of the woods now. It’ll be smooth sailing the rest of the way to Port Townsend.”
“Do you think?”
“I know.”
When my dad drives, he sits ramrod straight, his nose practically touching the windshield. My mom calls it driving Mormon, whatever that means. Now he eased his seat back a couple of inches. Who was this person? What was next? Was he going to crack open a beer and offer me some? Maybe he’d just let me drive.
“Uh, Dad? Are you okay?”
“Yeah. I hate to admit it, but it feels good to be back.”
“Yes Owen, back. I went to school here. I met your mother here. All of us, Uncle Leroy, Aunt Clara, everyone. We all went to Holliday. And I swore that you never would.”


Below is my detailed critique.  Please select FULL SCREEN to view, then once the document is open RIGHT CLICK to ZOOM and view the comments.

Alright, so what do you think?  Are you hooked?  What did the author do well?  What things could be improved? Agree or disagree with my crit?

Thanks ahead of time to everyone who comments and to the author for volunteering!

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