October 10, 2012

Would You Read It Wednesday #61 - Phantom And The Boneyard (ER) and Pitch Pick #13

Boy do we have all kinds of Would You Read It fun for today!  Grab your Something Chocolate and settle in!

First off, we have the September Pitch Pick, and all 4 participants have revised their pitches with an eye to your wonderful comments, so this should be very interesting!

#1 Tina
Melody Wants A Piano (PB)
When Melody returns from Grandma's with a song in her heart, she wants a piano.  Perhaps street singing, a baseball game, and a talent show will help her raise the funds to share her song with others.

#2 Elizabeth
Buff The Magic Dragon (PB)
Buff the Magic Dragon is afraid of EVERYTHING.  But when his magic trick-gone-wrong lands the baby Princess Ponypants in the tentacles of Captain Meanie Bones Jones, Buff must swallow his fear to save her.

#3 Catherine
Once Upon A Toilet (PB)
Mr. Eubend, a plumber for King Fartsalot and Queen Piddle, was called away to an emergency in a neighbouring kingdom. En-route he finds he is in great demand.

#4 Vivian
Confessions Of The Tomato Turner (PB)
Peter proudly helps his mom in the family vegetable garden, but when he pulls up a baby tomato plant instead of a weed, Peter is torn between telling his mom and hiding the evidence in the compost pile. 

Please vote below for the pitch you think is best and should get a read by editor Erin Molta!  Voting will be open until Friday October 12 11:59 PM EDT.

Many thanks for your vote!  I can't wait to see how it turns out! :)

Next, we have today's pitch which is fun because it's an early reader and we don't get too many of those.  Our pitcher today is Sidney Levesque, who is a former newspaper reporter and editor.  She now works for a university and writes freelance.  She is a wife and the mother of a toddler, and is enjoying dipping her toe into the great ocean of fiction!

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Phantom And The Boneyard
Age/Genre: Early Reader
The Pitch: The Phantom awakens to find himself separated from his squadron and relocated to a military "boneyard" in the Arizona desert with other retired airplanes used for spare parts. But Phantom isn't ready to retire and starts plotting his escape with the help of new friends before he, too, ends up in permanent storage with his "eyes" wrapped shut.

Sidney also asked to include the opening of her story, which I thought would be very fun to share :) so here it is:


All around him were endless rows of military airplanes he didn’t recognize, planes that looked very old, as if they hadn’t been flown in years.
Some had noses missing. And doors ajar. Wires hanging out like spaghetti.  Tires deflated. Entire planes dismantled into a thousand pieces.

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 Sidney 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 December, so you have time to polish :) for a chance for it to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Sidney is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  And I would like to take this opportunity to tell you that on Monday we will be having a very special visitor and a giveaway!  So please plan on saving a few Monday moments for an interview with the one and only Natasha Yim and a chance to win her new book, Sacajawea Of The Shosone!!!  (I'm sorry Short & Sweets is getting bumped, but I think you'll find it's worth it! :))


Reactions:

63 comments:

  1. Yes, I would read it! Not many adults even know about airplane graveyards. What an interesting concept for a picture book! Loved the description on the first page, too.

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  2. Voting was hard because all the pitches appeared to have been tightened and the tension heightened. But I cast my vote.


    Le sigh.


    I would read this book. I'm not sure if there is a way to tighten this pitch more without removing pertinent information. But there are plenty of kids that enjoy stories with airplanes. Who knows, this could lead to a new trend like the "Thomas the Train" one.

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  3. Yes, the pitch is interesting! Like Angela I thought about Thomas the Train too. I really like the name Phantom!

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  4. Denise MacLennan BruceOctober 10, 2012 at 8:48 AM

    I would definitely read this to the kids. I've never heard of a story about an airplane graveyard. I love it :)


    A couple things I'd fix in the pitch.. I wonder if she should mention it's an airplane right at the beginning? I wasn't sure what a phantom was at first. but that might be what she was aiming at :)
    The Phantom awakens to find himself separated from his squadron and relocated to a military "boneyard" in the Arizona desert with other retired airplanes used for spare parts.


    This line... I wonder if the and should be "so" ---> But Phantom isn't ready to retire and starts plotting his escape ...


    That's it. Awesome pitch :)

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  5. Yes, Sidney, I would definitely read this story based on the pitch as the thought of a Phantom plane trying to escape an aircraft boneyard really piqued my interest & I can think of many aircraft-loving children who would be thrilled to read this, too (my own son was obsessed with "aki's" as a toddler). My only concern is the language level for early readers. Some of the words in the opening seem rather complex for an early reader (ajar; dismantled; deflated, etc.). I hope someone with more experience in leveled readers chimes in-- would love to hear thoughts on this concern.


    Off to search for something chocolate, Susanna. If the early morning chill doesn't lift soon, it may be cocoa!

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  6. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueOctober 10, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    Thank you, Laura! I based the idea on my trip to the real "boneyard" at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, AZ, back when I a was a military reporter.

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  7. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueOctober 10, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    Thanks for your thoughts, Angela! I had Thomas the Train and the Pixar movie "Cars" in mind but I am having a terrible time using anthropomorphism in my writing...

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  8. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueOctober 10, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    Thank you, Coleen! The name Phantom comes from the name of the F-4 fighter/bomber. The names of the other characters in the story will also come from the real names of military aircraft, for example Dragonfly and Bird Dog.

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  9. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueOctober 10, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    Thank you for the suggestions, Denise! I must clarify the sample paragraph I submitted is not the opening; it's actually a little farther down in the story. This is the actual opening:
    A hot breeze nudged the Phantom awake.
    His glass canopy slowly opened, but the sun was too bright. He blinked and squinted. Another breeze blew dust into the air intake ducts on either side of his gray metal body. He strained to blow the dirt out before it damaged his engine.

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  10. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueOctober 10, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    Patricia, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I think I do need more help making sure the language level is appropriate. Especially as I start describing the airplanes (see opening paragraph I submitted below under Denise's comment). Also I talk about the Phantom feeling lighter at the beginning and noticing his 2,000-pound missiles are gone. Not sure what age level that would be ok for but I was hoping fourth and fifth-graders.

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  11. delores @ thefeatherednestOctober 10, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Defintely would read this.

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  12. I would DEFINITELY read this book! Love the pitch...love the whole story concept...kind of has an environmentalist's theme underneath that perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to toss things away before we try to reuse, recycle and renovate them. :) Great idea, Sidney! And I love the name Phantom!

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  13. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueOctober 10, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    Thank you, Delores! These good thoughts are inspiring me to push on and complete the story.

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  14. Yes I would read it! The only comment I have is making sure that the vocabulary and grammar in the story is appropriate for beginning readers. I believe there are some tools out there like ATOS which will can gauge the reading level.

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  15. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueOctober 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Thank you, Vivian! My idea is for Phantom to try to escape the boneyard and fail. Depressed, he will wander to the far side of the boneyard and meet The One, which is actually an old Air Force One airplane that transported our presidents. The One will teach Phantom that sometimes you must sacrifice your dreams to help others, i.e. give his spare parts to the F-4s in his squadron so they can keep flying. Can't decide if this is a sequel or the ending: Just as Phantom accepts his fate to provide parts to keep his squadron flying, a man he's never seen appears and buys him. Phantom is getting a second chance! Only Phantom won't be flying for the U.S. Air Force. He'll be flying for a foreign nation. Phantom struggles with his loyalty to the U.S. Air Force he's spent his life supporting and the chance to fly again. (This is based on reality - foreign allies like Egypt, Germany, Greece and others can buy retired U.S. military aircraft.)

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  16. POSTED FOR CATHERINE at http://catherinemjohnson.wordpress.com


    Love the plane book pitch. I would end it at 'escape' to round it off nicely. Sounds like a great story.

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  17. I voted, but it was tough. All the pitches were good. I love how Catherine changed hers, especially!


    Re. the pitch, I would read it. It sounds like an interesting story and a compelling problem. I just read a picture book about a New York City subway train that gets retired and put out to sea to make a coral reef for fish. It was a great book, based on a true story, and it might be good for Sidney to look at as a comp. I can't remember the title, unfortunately, but I think it came out pretty recently.


    I'd introduce the idea that the Phantom (great name, by the way, very appealing to kids) is an airplane a little earlier, and also give us a little sense of what the Phantom does. Something like: The Phantom is the fastest fighter-jet in the squadron, but one day awakens to find himself in a military 'boneyard' for retired airplanes.


    I'd also see if you can tighten up the last sentence. Right now the pitch is two long sentences but might work better as 3 or 4 short, punchy sentences.

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  18. POSTED FOR RACHEL at http://rachelmarybean-writingonthewall.blogspot.com


    I'd read it. In fact it sounds like something I would totally pick out for my son as he is becoming a reader. :)

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  19. I'm going to say Maybe for the following reasons. I love the pitch, and I love the idea. This book, however, would absolutely terrify my son, so I would personally probably pass. I don't know how many other kids would be scared for the other planes, who presumably do not escape, but mine would have nightmares. He just seems to over-empathize with broken machines--I think it as close as he has yet come to understanding sickness and death, because that's how those big issues are often presented to children. So that might be too much about my own kid, but I just wanted to point out that maybe some kids would take larger issues out of your story (that maybe you are intending; they do have to understand these things after all); but if you aren't intending, I would urge you to at least think about. That was a little long-winded, but I would also say that I love the idea, I think the military airplane could make for a great character, and the pitch is really well done. I do think the first sentences could use some of that good voice and scariness that the pitch includes. (I.e. instead of starting with a line about "military airplanes" that is more descriptive, maybe you can start right with Phantom, his character and his name.) Anyway, I love it, and in another couple of years, something like this could be my son's favorite book. :) Good luck!

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  20. Yes, I would read it -- I would find a book about an airplane from the airplane's perspective fascinating. It took me a minute to realize it was about an aircraft, though. I wonder if there needs to be a hint closer to the beginning of the first sentence?

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  21. P.S. I had overlooked the fact that it's marked "early reader." The first lines read like a chapter book or even an early middle grade novel. Words in early readers are usually very simple, and repetitive, so that the children can work them out for themselves. Words are usually one syllable, at the most two, and including complicated concepts is discouraged. As a middle grade novel, however, or even a chapter book for more advanced readers, this has great potential, in my view.

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  22. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueOctober 10, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    Thanks, Beth! I'm thinking this needs to be a chapter book - but short chapters. Maybe sixth grade or fifth grade?

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  23. That definitely looks great for 4th and 5th graders, but technically, that's not an early reader. Early Readers are intended for 1st and 2nd graders, just earning their reading wings. 4th and 5th graders are into middle grade novels, and this would be great for that, in my view.

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  24. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueOctober 10, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    Good feedback, Wendy! Can you tell me how old your son is? That might help me gauge the appropriate age level for this book.

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  25. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueOctober 10, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    Thank you, Rachel!

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  26. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueOctober 10, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    Carrie, thanks for letting me know about the subway book. I definitely need to check that out. I do need to mention he's an airplane sooner; several readers are telling me that. This is great feedback. I will definitely be revising the pitch to reflect the suggestions. Thank you!

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  27. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueOctober 10, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    Thank you for the suggestion, Catherine! I appreciate your feedback :)

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  28. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueOctober 10, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    I will check out ATOS. Thank you for letting me know about it, Darshana!

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  29. By fifth or sixth grade, kids are into the longer chapters of a middle grade novel. I agree that you seem to be aiming for fifth or sixth graders though, and that's great! You might want to check out websites about middle grade novels, such as this one: http://www.fromthemixedupfiles.com/2010/11/early-chapter-books-whats-on-my-chicklets-bookshelf/

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  30. The voting was hard.

    The pitch. I have visited the airplane boneyard and so have a very real picture in my mind. So I new immediately that the Phantom was an aircraft. Like Beth I saw it as PB, and think it would do well as a PB for older boys. It has a bit of historical fiction in it. I love the pitch. I'm on the fence about MG, because I don't know the whole story.

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  31. Not only would I read it, but the pictures from this scenario are so vivid, it makes me wish more than ever that I could be an illustrator. Love it!!

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  32. I voted! All did a great job of polishing their pitches.


    As far as Phantom and the Boneyard....I was hooked at the title! I thought the pitch was great, too. I would definitely read this and I think it would have huge appeal as an early reader or chapter book. I know some of the vocabulary may be a bit hard for an early reader, but I liked the opening. So, if I were you, Sidney, I would keep the harder vocab words and go for the chapter book (which I'm far from an expert on :-)
    I did rewrite with a suggestion for a change in the last sentence:
    The Phantom awakens to find himself separated from his squadron and relocated to a military "boneyard" in the Arizona desert with other retired airplanes used for spare parts. But Phantom isn't ready to retire. With the help of his new friends, he starts plotting escape before he, too, ends up in permanent storage with his "eyes" wrapped shut.

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  33. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueOctober 10, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    Thanks, Patricia!

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  34. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueOctober 10, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    Thank you, Genevieve! I'm glad the description is helpful to imagine.

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  35. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueOctober 10, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    Thank you, Penny! I think I am leaning more toward the chapter book so I can keep the harder vocabulary. Thank you for the suggestion to change the last sentence. Great feedback from everyone today!

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  36. Wow, they all did an amazing job at improving the pitches.

    I was hooked with the title of Phantom and the Boneyard. I'm out of my element when it comes to PB pitches. Heck, I struggle with ones for YA, too.

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  37. Since we have a boneyard nearby, I'd have to say, we'd read it!

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  38. Yes, I would read it! It is great to have an airplane-themed book amidst all the car and train books that are out there. Sidney's opening is great - vivid imagery that speaks to the imagination.

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  39. I would read it. It started of slowly for me and I thought Phantom would be a ghost. But I found myself hooked at the end. What will an airplane and a bunch of spare parts do to help him escape? I'm hooked! :)

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  40. Thanks so much for your comments for Sidney! I agree, the premise for this is really intriguing!

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  41. Thanks for your comments for Sidney and for voting, Angela - it was a tough one, wasn't it? :) I love your idea of a plane version of Thomas! :)

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  42. Thanks so much for your thoughts for Sidney, Denise!

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  43. Thanks for chiming in, Coleen. And I know - isn't Phantom a great name? I love that!

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  44. Thank you so much for you comments for Sidney, Patricia! I think you have a good point about the vocab. And cocoa is always good! :)

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  45. Thanks so much for your thoughts for Sidney, Vivian!

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  46. Thanks so much for you helpful comments for Sidney, Carrie! And thanks for voting! :)

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  47. Thank you for your thoughtful comments for Sidney, Wendy!

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  48. Thank you very much for your helpful comments for Sidney, Beth. Good points.





























    Beth Stilborn (unregistered) wrote, in response to Beth Stilborn:

    P.S. I had overlooked the fact that it's marked "early reader." The first lines read like a chapter book or even an early middle grade novel. Words in early readers are usually very simple, and repetitive, so that the children can work them out for themselves. Words are usually one syllable, at the most two, and including complicated concepts is discouraged. As a middle grade novel, however, or even a chapter book for more advanced readers, this has great potential, in my view.

    Link to comment
    IP address: 65.87.233.107

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  49. Thanks so much for your thoughts for Sidney, Pat, and for voting! :)

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  50. Thanks so much for chiming in, Genevieve!

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  51. Thanks so much for your comments for Sidney, Penny! And thanks for voting! :)

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  52. Yes, I'd read this. A unique premise! However, I don't think it would be categorized as an early reader with the more difficult words. You could use "Children's Writer Word Book" for word lists for each grade level as well. I like the pitch except the very last line, which seems a little scary. I think this will make a great BOY book!!

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  53. Yeah, I was hooked by that title too! And the voting was tough - I got hooked on the Once Upon A Toilet title :) (apparently I'm still in second grade :))

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  54. I knew you would like this one, Kirsten! :)

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  55. Thanks so much for your comments, Larissa! I'm sure Sidney will be pleased :)
    Subject: [susannaleonardhillblog] Re: Susanna Leonard Hill: Would You Read It Wednesday #61 - Phantom And The Boneyard (ER) and Pitch Pick #13

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  56. Thanks so much for adding your thoughts, Saba! :)

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  57. Thanks so much for your helpful comment for Sidney, Tina - especially the book tip!

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  58. I'd read it, love the title and opening. I agree too that this is sounds more low MG chapter book than early reader. Early readers tend to have simple words and short sentences. The plot alone feels too complicated too for an early reader.

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  59. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueOctober 11, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    Thank you, Tina! I will check out "Children's Writer Word Book." I wondered if the last line was too scary but I thought it might depend on the age level and it reminded me of "Goosebumps," which is probably middle school level.

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  60. Sidney Schuhmann LevesqueOctober 11, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    Thank you for the feedback! Middle grade seems like a good fit. And I don't want to dumb down the plot so that's probably the direction I will go.

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  61. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with Sidney, Kerie! :)

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