Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

I'm posting my query letter as part of a blogfest.  It's late blah blah blah.  

So here it is.  First book/First query.

Dear Mr./Mrs. Agent Dude(tte),

Fire drills stink.  When Pete, a student at Lee Springs Elementary, stays in the bathroom during the monthly forced-march-to-the-blacktop, he finds himself smashed against the wall at five G’s as his whole school rockets into space.

At first the alien teachers are horrified to learn a student has discovered their secret, but they have bigger problems: a satellite caught a picture of the school, forcing them to launch into orbit to protect the hologram that has kept their secret hidden for so long.

Unless Pete and an alien third-grader named Becca can walk in space to disable that satellite, the school’s secret will be uncovered, and the teachers will have to head for their home planets--with Pete on board!

SPACE SCHOOL is a 5,500 word chapter book, aimed at children grades 2-4, that follows Pete on his journey into the Earth’s orbit.  This book is a stand alone with series potential.

My background is in education.  I taught both first and second grade for a total of five years.  I am a member of the SCBWI.
Thank you for your time and consideration.


Chris Phillips

Also I won a signed copy of

by C.S. Lakin, so that's cool.



  1. Outstanding query. I really want to get this book as you've done everything necessary to excite this particular reader into reading it. I don't think I could find anything at fault with this query.

  2. While, I can't claim to be an expert at what makes a chapter book successful, it sounds like you've got something fresh and interesting that children, boys especially, will really get a kick out of reading.

    The only thing in the entire query that threw me off at first was the five G's. For a minute, I thought five G's was the name of his school. I'm a little slow. Warp speed would have caused me less confusion, but I have my suspicions I'm actually a blonde underneath all this red hair.

    Great job! Sorry, I could throw more crit at you.

  3. I'd sign you up!! If I were a dudette agent!!!

    LOL!! I think you wrote a really fun and engaging query letter!! I really enjoyed reading it! Take care

  4. Wow, I really like your query. It has a ton of voice and personality. The only thing I would change is to delete the name of the school. It's not needed. Maybe you could add what grade he is in instead.

  5. I love your query. It's adorable :)

    I agree with taking out the school's name and adding what grade Pete's in. Otherwise, this pretty much rocks.

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  7. MY main issue is format. Yes, I'm being picky, but so will an agent. Separate your paragraphs. Agents want an easy read.

    I agree with the others, take out the school's name and I don't know what 5 g's is.

    Otherwise, your voice is enthusiastic, it's well written, and it sounds like a fun read,

    Good luck. If your looking for an illustrator stop by my blog. I think it would be a fun project. I have samples of my work on illustrations.


  8. Your query is great. I'd say you've done your research on query writing! I'd want to see more. You know, if I was an agent and all. :)

  9. This book sounds fun! I like the idea of a space ship school.

    I too had to read the 5 G's thing twice to get it. Other than that, the query seems tight. The plots and voice are there. Good job.

    Good luck,


  10. That's an awesome query; great voice, concise, good paceing.

    I think the format was easy to read. Excellent transitions and flow.

    While I agree that I'd like to see an age and/or grade for Pete, I don't think naming the school detracts from the query. It adds setting. Lee Springs sounds like a city name, and schools named for the city are usually public schools. Using a public school instead of a private school ups the risk of the "hiding in plain sight" theme.

    I wasn't thrown at all by the 5G's. I liked it. If anything other than "school rockets into space" had come after, then I would have been confused. I think it a good line; an excellent hook that lets the reader know they're in for a sci-fi. I'm pretty sure if a kid is interested in this book, he/she is already a fan of cartoons/books/video games in the genre, and the 5G phrase would be understood.

    (Disclaimer: I don't read or write in MG or YA; but I've watched a lot video over the last few years with my kids. The spacey terminology is there.)

    The only critique I have - and it might be alright, the voice is still there - is with the author bio and story description. It is repetitive.

    - "5,500 word chapter book" is needed. So is the title. But ". .aimed at children in grades 2 - 4" is can be assumed by it being a chapter book; and "follows Pete into his journey . ." is telling the Agent what he/she ha already figured out.
    Perhaps if you started your query with "SPACE SCHOOL is a 5,500 word chapter book" and then jumped right into your first line you would let the agen know the title, word count, and genre without interrupting the flow of the query. The rest of that paragraph could be deleted.
    - the other repeat is in the bio; "My background is in education." If you deleted that intro, I think the rest reads really well. Or maybe just add your ECE credentials. Like: I have a Bachaelors in early childhood education and taught first and second grades for 5 years.

    Those two nit-piky's may not matter to the Agent however. Its the only section that stood out in my mind as awkward.

    Good work Chris. Well done.


  11. This was a lot of fun, Chris! My only comment is that it's not clear why your MC is the only one who can fix things.

  12. Thanks Everyone!

    Donna, I got the advice for 'aimed at children grades 2-4" from Gordon Korman when I didn't know what to put for genre. It was his suggestion since it really isn't a middle grade or ya.

    Elena, I agree, but I don't know what to add to make that come across. :\

  13. Hi Chris - This was really great.

    I read 5Gs without blinking (but then I do write SF&F!!) - I couldn't honestly say whether a MG agent would have a problem with it.

    I thought the whole think was brilliant. The only possibly leaky bit was P2.
    "At first .... but ..." This construction suggests that something happened after they discovered Pete that meant they stopped being horrified. However, if I have understood the plot, it was the fact that the school had been spotted by the satellite that had caused them to blast into orbit, AFTER which they discovered Pete. So REALLY, what you are saying is "Normally the teachers would have been horrified to learn that a student had discovered their secret, but right now they have bigger problems..." I think you also need to look carefully at your chosen tense for the remainder of the sentence to make sure that it is clear what follows what.
    I know what Elena is saying, and I would agree for an adult novel, but at MG, everybody knows that the entire universe rests on a kids shoulders every day! Who else is going to save them but a kid!

    This sounds like a great book and it is really well presented. Good luck with the query.


  14. Great job! Hope you're already querying this.

    I didn't get through all of your comments but I must say, 5 G's didn't confuse me a bit. Agents in your genre won't stumble on it either. I also didn't have any issues with your formatting. It read smoothly for me.

    My son would love your book. I hope you do well.

    I hope to see you out there querying this year.