May 16, 2012

Would You Read It Wednesday - The 40th Pitch and Book's Journey

Happy Wednesday, amigos!

I am eyebrow deep in a week of school visits and having tons of fun!
This is the week I get to participate in what I consider to be one of the best programs for kids there is.  It's called Book's Journey, and it is the brainchild of Pat Sexton who is a passionate advocate of Arts in Education.  I think every school should do this, so I'm hoping if I tell you all about it, maybe the word will get out and some other schools will give it a try :)

Here's what the kids get to do:

The program is for 4th grade (although I think it could easily be done with 5th or 6th grade too.)

They begin with visits from an author, an illustrator, and an author/illustrator who talk about the creative spark (basically where they get their ideas from) and show and tell a little bit about how they work.

Then each child is given a notebook/journal to draft his or her story in.  Over the next two weeks or so, the kids work on their stories in selected class periods and as much as they want on their own.

Then I come in right at the point where they're all getting stuck and aren't sure what to do :)  We talk about the elements of story - what things you need to make a story work - character, setting, problem/goal etc. - and what you can do to get your story going again if it has stalled out.

A week after my visit, a professional editor comes in to help them edit their stories.

This is followed by a book cover designer who teaches them basics of making an attention-grabbing cover.

Finally a marketing specialist comes in and talks to them about various ways to market books.

Illustrations are created on separate pages so they can be easily put into the finished book, which will be handmade by each child.

They finish the whole spring project with a book fair to which parents and all the rest of the students in the school are invited.  Each book is displayed for everyone to view and read.

Doesn't that just sound amazing?  I wish my school had had a program like that when I was in 4th grade (or ever!)!  I think it's such a valuable experience for the kids to get that much hands-on learning from professionals in the field of writing and publishing, and to have the opportunity to create and display their own work.  They come away from the experience feeling that writing and illustrating are possibilities, not just pipe dreams, and that has to be a boost to their creative spirits.

So please, go forth and spread the word! :)

Now then, grab a donut!  It's time for everybody's favorite Wednesday feature, Would You Read It!

This week's pitch comes to us from Jarm, a freelance writer for Women & Children.  She has been published three times in Thriving Family Magazine.  Her passion is to make the Bible and history come alive for children.  Feel free to check out her blog.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title:  Waiting For An Idea
Age/Genre:  PB (ages 6-11)
The Pitch:  Jerry is waiting for an idea to come.  He walks his dog, swings in his backyard, and even goes inside for milk and cookies. hoping to coax one into his head.  But, alas, it's not until he opens Aunt Polly's gift that an idea... well... an avalanche of ideas, spill forth!


So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Jarm improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in August, so you have time to polish :) for a chance for it to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Jarm is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!

And I am off to another day of school visiting :)



Reactions:

54 comments:

  1. The title doesn't grab me and I don't get enough from the pitch itself to know if I'm interested in the story. I suggest telling us something about Aunt Polly's gift and maybe why the ideas avalanche when he does? Also, why does he need an idea?

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  2. I don't think I'd read this book, just based on this pitch. Not having an idea doesn't strike me as a big enough problem for the main character (though maybe there's some context that isn't in the pictch?)

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  3. Thanks for your helpful comments, Randy!

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  4. thefeatherednestMay 16, 2012 at 7:09 AM

    Well I am curious now to know what's in the box but I wouldn't have known that from the title....so....probably I wouldn't have picked the book up from the shelf. Maybe a title change? Something like Aunt Polly's Terrific Box of Ideas maybe?

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  5. I'm in 4th grade! This sounds like a really cool project! The pitch seems like it has a topic that we all go through sooner or later: Trouble finding ideas. I would like to know more about Aunt Polly's gift and how it helps Jerry to get idea(s) (for what? A book? A school project?).
    Erik

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  6. This school endeavor you are a part of is a magnificent thing. Encouraging little minds to think, use their imagination...that's just wonderful beyond words.

    As for the pitch, I'm a Maybe. I could sense my kiddo's reaction and I have a feeling she wouldn't show any interest until the very last part of the pitch. So I wonder if it would be possible to make the gift and the avalanche of ideas an earlier focus in the pitch.

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  7. Your suggestion is very helpful, Angela...I am keeping a log of the ideas, and yours is the first!

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  8. You are right, Erik...it is a common problem among writers! I'm glad there is enough suspense to make you curious...thanks for your comment!

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  9. You are right...the title needs to be changed. I like your idea. I'll make note of it..thanks!

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  10. I appreciate your comment, Andrea...I'm realizing that the topic is probably not one for younger kids. I was thinking of a bright "geeky" type of kid who is always looking for something to do!

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  11. Good point...I never thought of why. Thanks for your comment. I'm learning so much today!!

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  12. Hi Jarmila-
    I'm a maybe-to-no on this one. I'm a maybe because, as writers, we've all been in that place of waiting for an idea! So I might be inclined to pick up the book and look at it myself.

    If I were looking for my kids, though, I'd be a no. From the pitch, it doesn't seem like a relatable problem for them -- my 6 year old is full of ideas, and my 3 yo is too young to understand it, as you say. I think it would help if there were some indication of what Jerry is waiting for an idea FOR -- something kids could relate to. For example, an idea for a school project, or Mom's birthday present. That would put more at stake for him. Perhaps it is there in the story, but it needs to get into the pitch, too.

    I do like the notion of Aunt Polly's gift (whatever it is) giving him some ideas. That's intriguing and I wanted to know what could be in there that would help him.

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  13. Penny KlostermannMay 16, 2012 at 9:40 AM

    Jarm, I think you have some interesting elements in your pitch that would make for a fun story...but you need to grab your reader. I think the title could be changed to have more of a hook, too. I need more specifics about why he is in need of an idea. The idea needs to be for something important that makes us want to learn more about it. Now, I will say that I am really curious to see what the gift is. So based on that I would read the book. Just rework your pitch some to draw the reader in.

    That project sounds awesome. I just love the whole concept. Does she have a website for it?

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  14. Maybe. I'm most intrigued by the "avalanche of ideas." As it is, I'd like to know WHY he's waiting for an idea. I think that would be a very important part of the story. If he's waiting for an idea to come just for the sake of having an idea, then it seems a little forced to me. But the pitch doesn't tell us why the idea is important.

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  15. Carrie, you have some good points here! I'm already realizing that the theme is more of an adult one, but can be tweaked if I'm more specific about what Jerry is waiting for, and your ideas were helpful...thanks so much!

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  16. Thanks, Penny...you are right about "grabbing" my reader, whether it is in the title, or a part of the pitch. I'm glad you are curious about the gift, tho'!

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  17. Another good point, Christie...thanks for that! I need to remember to mention the "Why". By the time this day is done, I will have a new pitch, and a revised story thanks to all those who are contributing!

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  18. Have to agree with Christie. Is the idea for a book, a project, a son, a gift....? Why is he waiting. The line about Aunt Polly and the "avalanche of ideas," is excellent. I am intrigued enough that I would read the book.

    Suasanna, thanks for sharing the program for fourth graders. Oh, how I wished they had a program like that in every school, especially in inner city schools. It might light a passion in a child. I wouldn't mind learning about creating a cover for your book. I can imagine how proud they must be.

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  19. Yup I agree with Patricia with the question on the pitch--and that I'm intrigued enough!
    The book journey sounds so great--I would've been so excited to participate in something like that! :)

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  20. Maybe this will help:
    Jerry heard someone once say, "I'm waiting for an idea, but it isn't coming..." He is intrigued by it, and wonders if he needs one, and if so...where does he find it? Bright kids are curious about adult comments, and try to "wrap themselves around the words in order to understand them. The story is about one of those instances...hope it explains the storyline a bit better. Thanks for your input...I gather that the phrase, "an avalanche of ideas" is the best part of the pitch, which is good to know!

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  21. Coleen, here's what I said to Patricia:

    "Maybe this will help:
    Jerry heard someone once say, "I'm waiting for an idea, but it isn't coming..." He is intrigued by it, and wonders if he needs one, and if so...where does he find it?
    Bright kids are curious about adult comments, and try to "wrap themselves around the words in order to understand them. The story is about one of those instances...hope it explains the storyline a bit better. Thanks for your input...I gather the phrase, "an avalanche of ideas" is the best part of the pitch, which is good to know!"
    Could it be that the "idea" concept is too advanced for the 8-11 year olds?

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  22. I love the idea of the program you're involved in, Susanna. It sounds like something I would have adored in school (except for maybe the illustrating part. I'm pretty awful at drawing).

    In terms of the pitch, the avalanche of ideas was the part that piqued my interest also. I've become more of a 'yes' by reading through your comments than I was from the pitch, so maybe it would be worth trying to include the fact that Jerry not quite sure what an idea is and what he should be looking for. The major issue I think is that the pitch lacks stakes or tension - what happens if he doesn't get an idea?

    I realise I've rambled a bit so hopefully you'll get something useful from all that! Best of luck with refining your pitch! :-)

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  23. That book journey project sounds amazing - what a brilliant idea!

    Speaking of ideas, I'm confused because your pitch and your clarification seem like different stories to me. Is he waiting for an idea for a specific reason? If so, let the reader know what that it. Or, is he trying to figure out what an "idea" is? In that case, I'd include the adult comment that sends him on his idea quest. I agree with the others - the part about Aunt Polly's gift is intriguing so I'd put more focus on that. I love the "avalanche of ideas"!

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  24. Books Journey really is amazing - I wish more schools could do it! Thanks for your comment for Jarm!

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  25. I know! i would have loved such a thing too! :)

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  26. From your pitch and your explanation below I am intrigued by why he needs an idea. What is at stake for him if he doesn't find an idea? Does he feel stupid or left out or something like that because he doesn't have an idea?

    Susanna, that program sounds amazing.

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  27. Thanks for your helpful comments for Jarm, Rena! And yes, Book's Journey really is quite an opportunity for these young writers. It's wonderful to see how excited they are!

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  28. They really are proud, Pat. it's wonderful to see how excited they are by the whole process. I, too, wish there was a way that every child could have this opportunity!

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  29. Thanks so much for chiming in, Christie!

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  30. I better quit while I'm ahead, Lori...I thought my clarification would help! I like your suggestion to begin with the adult comment, and go on from there. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  31. You know, she doesn't, Penny, and she really should! if she had the whole program spelled out maybe it would be easier for other schools to take the idea and run with it. Thanks for saying this - I'm going to suggest it to her right now!

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  32. Thanks so much for your comment Carrie!

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  33. It is a wonderful program. You should see how excited the kids get! I wish more schools could do it!

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  34. Gosh, I guess you are, Erik! I always think you're older :) Yes, it is a wonderful program and I wish more schools could do it. Thanks for your comment for Jarm.

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  35. Thanks so much for chiming in, Delores!

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  36. Jerry probably has never thought of needing or wanting an idea in the past, although he certainly has had many. When he hears how important it is for Aunt Polly (I forgot to mention it began with her comment) to have one, Jerry assumes he should have an idea...and then the searching begins with activities that he thinks will generate one. It's a quirky "idea", but, "geeky" kids do "quirky" things! Maybe it's too quirky to pursue...or too difficult for kids to understand. I like to challenge kids to think at a higher level...it generates more brain cells! ;-} This has been such a stretching experience for me. I appreciate your questions, Rena...my "little grey cells" are working double time!

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  37. I am so late to the party today! First, I love the Book's Journey program. It sounds like such fun and has an entrepreneurial twist. And Jarm, your pitch does spark my interest, especially since I just heard Jonah Lehrer on Katie Davis today. I'm not sure I have anything new to add, however, since many have covered my comments already.

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  38. Now you have my interest, Kirsten...I'll need to listen to Brain Burps! Thanks for stopping by...

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  39. The school writing program sounds amazing, Susanna! Yes, every school should have this! I love the pitch...and would definitely want to read on to find out what ideas he had...and what WAS the gift! :)

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  40. The writing program sounds fantastic. I'm forwarding this post to my sister, who works at an elementary school. Jerry sounds like me on some days. I'll say yes. I'm enjoying the feedback in the comments. Good luck. Susanna, Have fun at school!

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  41. I'm just glad you came to the party, Kirsten :) I love Book's Journey - it's really great. On Penny's suggestion I emailed Pat and told her she should put up a website about it! Thanks for commenting on the pitch!

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  42. It's a great program, Vivian! Thanks for chiming in for Jarm!

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  43. Thanks for those encouraging words, Vivian...you can be sure I won't reveal my secret at this point!

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  44. I appreciate your input, Stacy...some days are better than others aren't they? Thanks for visiting my blog, too, and commenting on the pitch!

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  45. The writing program sounds fantastic. Is there a website I can point teachers too? Is this a nationwide program or just on the East Coast?

    Pitch: Maybe. The most interesting part to me was the last line. I think the second and third lines can be tightened up.

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  46. You are the second person who has asked about a website, Darshana, and the answer is, no, there isn't one... yet! Although after Penny mentioned it i immediately emailed Pat and suggested she put one up. This is not nationwide, East coast, or even statewide. It is one woman's idea and it runs in one school! But how great would it be if more kids could have a chance to participate?!

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  47. Thanks, Darshana...I agree with you. It's too wordy. I'll add that to my list of corrections!

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  48. I love that writing program! My daughter (who is in 4th grade) has been focusing a lot on writing this year and this would be so helpful! I would love to be able to sit in too. :)
    As for the pitch, I would say yes because it sounds magical. Something in the gift makes it magical and idea inspiring. Now, I need to go get that donut!

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  49. Yes, I would say Pat had a brilliant idea when she thought this one up! Enjoy the donut :)

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  50. Thanks, Tracy...I appreciate the "Thumbs Up"! I know my pitch needs work, but at least there is a mystery about it that draws interest...

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  51. http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/

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  52. Very cool, Julie! I'll pass it along. Although she never replied to my email suggestion, so maybe she's not interested...













    Julie Rowan-Zoch wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:


    http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/


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