Peer Review by yapyapxy (Singapore)

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A Friend's First Smile

By: G L

The first dawn of the year. A puppy's first bark. Magic was an abstract thing, weaving itself in the most unexpected places.
(Illustration: a silver wind, blowing through the hair of young children playing in the snow, unaware.)

Sammy knew this well, his imagination running wild as he used magic. And he loved using magic. He used it so much he forgot to make friends. 
Regardless, the other children tried to talk to him.

"Wow! I love your magic!" "How did you do that?" "Waah, teach me!"

Sammy didn't listen, too busy to take a look around. The other children watched him float over their heads in jealousy.

Eventually, they began to give up on talking to him. Instead, they would scoff at him using his magic for everyday tasks.

"He's just being lazy." One of the boys said.

He told himself that he didn't care, turning around when they started to laugh together without him.
(Illustration: a boy, floating in the air, as other children are on the ground, scoffing up at him.)

It was fine, he thought, sitting back against as he leaned on a tree watching the other children play. Lifting his hands, he made them glow a warm orange.
After all, he had magic.

He never tried to reach out to the other children, sitting on the bench as they ran across the playground. They didn't ask him to join them either, choosing to ignore him when they could.

"Come on, join us!" They begged, pulling at the boy sitting beside Sammy. "We're playing tag!"

The other boy laughed, letting himself be pulled into the crowd.

Sammy just watched them, hands still a warm orange. (A cosy home in the winter, something to keep you warm.)
(Illustration: a boy, staring forlornly down at his glowing hands. The background is hazy and indistinct.)

He looked up at the teacher, who had only finished saying that it was a group project. The other children were already laughing, pulling their friends to them to form groups.

The teacher seemed to notice that Sammy was by himself, pointing him towards a quieter group that was still short one member. They looked over at the teacher, noticing Sammy. One of the girls whispered something to her friend, and both of them giggled.

Cautiously, Sammy approached them, a strand of deep blue hair fading into his black hair. (The rough waves of the ocean, something to be cautious of.)
(Illustration: a side shot, a strand of blue hair, nervously tucked behind the ear of a slouching boy.)

Cupping his hands around the cupcake his parents had packed for his birthday, he watched as the other children celebrated each other's birthdays.

Their warbly, off-tone voices rang out in a depiction of Happy Birthday, making the birthday girl laugh.

Did they know it was his birthday too?

Did they care?

He looked back down at his single, measly cupcake and the empty desks around him.

Sammy's eyes glowed green. (The green-eyed monster living in your heart, something to bring you jealousy.)
(Illustration: Sammy, softly cupping a neat cupcake, mostly in standard colours. The candle is changing colours. His eyes are a bit watery, and his hands seem to be slumped.)

The new student - Anna - was bright, happy and colourful.

But most of all?

They were magical.

The other children crowed and laughed and gathered around the new student.
"Where did you move from?" "What kind of magic can you do?"

She didn't seem to be bothered, answering their questions happily.

Sammy listened to the chant of questions and decided to place his head on his desk and block it all out.

There wasn't any use in being excited about magic.
(Illustration: a crushed cupcake, icing smeared on the wrapping. It's on the ground, forgotten.)

Eventually, all of the other children headed out, leaving the new student to sigh and collapse on their desk. She didn't seem to notice Sammy, slumping onto the desk and beginning to cry. Her tears were a deep shade of blue, almost black.

Startled, Sammy began to rise from his seat. His footsteps don't seem to draw her attention, and she continued to cry.

"What's wrong?" He asked her.

Anna startled, looking up at him. "What?"

"What's wrong?" He repeats, softly.

She looked down at her desk and mumbled something. Sammy caught something about missing home.

Sammy paused for a second. "I'm sure you'll feel better. It's only your first day, so of course, you're feeling nervous. Besides, I'm sure you'll make a bunch of friends soon. They all love your magic."

Anna didn't seem reassured, still looking worried.

"Here, how about this?" She looked back up at him. "I'll be your friend, so now you don't have to worry about not having friends here."

She perked up. "Really?"

Sammy nodded. "Definitely." He wasn't going to let her turn out like him.

She brightened, her eyes lighting up into a bright yellow. "Thank you!"

A friend's first smile, to keep you happy in your darkest times.

The two friends were inseparable, going off to play their own games during their breaks. Sammy's arms were streaked with yellow.

Magic seemed to always give you exactly what you needed in the most mysterious of ways.
(Illustration: a boy and a girl, arm in arm, running through a park, with matching grins on their faces.)
(I added illustration descriptions this time around, because I forgot to do that last time.)

Peer Review

The first few sentences were brief, but it caught my attention for reminding me of the start of a new season. :') I wondered why the author didn't sustain with the style of the first paragraph, though. Short sentences can create an interesting rhythm to read with.

I felt like Sammy's transition from being isolated till approaching the girl was slightly abrupt; I would like to know more about Sammy's thoughts when he saw that Anna was crying.

Towards the middle, there was more tell than show, so I would love to see how the writer would show him not reaching out towards the other children – maybe his view when staring from afar? I would have also loved to see more of how Sammy's magic changed his appearances according to his moods.

A promising start! I was intrigued by the fact that this children's piece was clearly aimed for slightly older children. You have ideas about your writing style, which is great. I would've loved to see more of your style throughout your piece – don't be afraid to experiment!

Reviewer Comments

Some suggestions ahead! You can choose not to follow them if you wish; I am just placing my thoughts here in the hopes of sparking your creativity with this piece. Test the limits of your style! :)

I noticed that you ended off each scene with a colour that brought across a certain mood and thus, a certain suggestion about Sammy's character; I would've liked to see this metaphor used more throughout the piece! You can even experiment with shades.

If you'd like to be more creative with the transition of different scenes, you can give each a brief title to signal to the reader that some time has passed, e.g. something to do with the main colour of each scene: green birthday in May to blue waves in April, or orange company to lonely blues (not very good examples, but you get the idea!).

Since the title was "A Friend's First Smile" and the first few sentences had the word "first", maybe you could end off with "first" in a sentence somewhere near the end of the piece, so as to make the title more significant. (It might just be me who feels like this makes the piece feel more complete, though.)

Once again, I enjoyed reading this piece and I hope to see you write more! :D

Xin Yi