September 11, 2013

Would You Read It Wednesday #104 - The Garden Disaster (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor


I have an announcement to make.

Wonder of wonders, my office is really and truly ALMOST clean!  I'm SO close!  Seriously!  I mean it!

The shelves are full and neatly organized.

All kinds of stuff is packed into labeled drawers (the idea being that I might ever find it again :))

Boxes of stuff are filed!

The desk top is partially visible.

There's only a small Goodwill pile on the piano (and if you're wondering why I have a piano in my office it's partly because I love to play and mostly because it won't fit anywhere else in the house!)

And there are just a few more odds and ends I have to clean up and decide what to do with.

SO CLOSE!

So y'all have to keep after me to make sure I cross the finish line on this job.  If I do, I'll share pictures in which you can actually see the floor!!! and we'll have some sort of fun and fabulous party to celebrate!  There will most likely be chocolate and presents involved, so it's in all of our best interest if I get this done!

Speaking of chocolate, it's supposed to be 92 degrees today, so I'm thinking we'd like something frosty and delightful.  Shall we have chocolate milkshake this morning?

I believe we shall! :)  And see how I got us one with a strawberry?  Health food :)  You're welcome :)

Now, while you are sipping that delicious, chocolatey, ice-cold yumminess, let's have a look at this month's Straight From The Editor.

You will recall that Rachel won the July Pitch Pick with her pitch for The Curse of the Shattered Sceptre.  (which reminds me that we haven't done the August pitch pick... hmmm... better get on that!)

Her winning pitch was as follows:

After accidentally unleashing a torrent of curses, Ollie and his Book Club buddies must use their wits and imagination to unravel a series of twisted clues. In a race against time, will the boys mend the shattered sceptre, restoring the balance of nature, or will they be cursed forever? 

Here is what editor Erin Molta had to say about it:


This looks exciting. A couple of things that might help it, though . . .
 Where did the curse come from? Right now, it seems a torrent of curses could be coming from a person—as in swears. It’s a tad unclear. Also, unravel a series of clues to what? To mend the scepter? If so, I’d clarify it this way and rather than structure it as a question, I’d make it more declarative like: Ollie and his buddies accidentally unleash a torrent of curses  (from what—an antique scepter from the museum—displayed in the library?). Racing against time, the boys must use their wits and imagination to unravel a series of twisted clues in order to mend the shattered scepter and restore the balance of nature—or they will be cursed forever! 
 Good luck!

As always, many thanks to Erin for her very helpful insights.  I always feel we learn something valuable!

Today's pitch comes to us from Kathy who says, "I live on a little farm in Vermont with my husband and my grandson. Having my grandson around is kind of what led me to wanting to write pb's. I have plenty of pets, farm animals and wildlife, so I have no shortage of thing to write about :)
We do a lot of fishing, exploring and outdoor fun!

Here is my blog address: I don't have many followers and I'm not really much of a blogger, but I created one because it was suggested that I should have one. Guess I need to go update and brush up on it :)

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Garden Disaster
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-7)
The Pitch: What’s a bee to do?  Basil’s daily chore is to collect pollen and nectar, but he never seems to collect enough. His Mom thinks it’s because he plays too much, but Basil knows it’s because of Mrs. Grady’s rotten cat.  One day while Basil is in the garden collecting his pollen and nectar a new hairy beast shows up!  Basil must think up a great idea to outsmart this new beast so he can finally fill his bucket to the tippy top.

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 Kathy 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 November so polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Kathy is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to Friday and the return of Perfect Picture Books, which I will be starting out with a bang and a special surprise give-away that you will NOT want to miss!!!  So mark your calendars!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!  Happy reading, writing, teaching, parenting... whatever you're doing today! :)

Reactions:

64 comments:

  1. Hi Kathy! This sounds really cute, and YES I would read it. The query, however, confuses me a bit because there seem to be two antagonists - the cat and the new hairy beast. I also think you should lose that first question, since we understand that he's a bee in your first sentence. Maybe something like:

    Basil never seems to collect enough pollen and nectar, and his mother thinks it’s because he goofs off too much. But Basil knows it’s because of Mrs. Grady’s rotten cat -- and that new hairy beast that just moved in! Basil must hatch the perfect plan to outsmart the beast so he can finally fill his bucket to the top.

    This still bothers me, because what about the cat? Does he have to outwit both of them? If not, you may need to delete the mention of the cat.

    Hope this helps!

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  2. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikSeptember 11, 2013 at 7:38 AM

    I think Ms. LaTulippe is right - Get rid of the cat or the hairy beast or maybe just hint that the problem is that Basil (love the name for a bee :) ) is getting bullied or harrassed. This story is a great idea for parents to get kids to talk about problems that they may be having! I would read it! :D

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  3. Basil the bee! Love it! I think the pitch needs to be more precise. He hasn't dealt with the cat and now another beast is introduced. Also the bucket threw me. I guess the illustrations would show a honeybee with a bucket but it needs to be clearer in the pitch.
    It sounds like a fun story!

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  4. Great advice from today's editor response. And as for WYRI? I sure would. I was about to mention my concern but noticed Renee LaTulippe already noted it so I won't repeat :-)


    And you can do it Susanna! You can clean that office until it causes you to faint with its overwhelming cleanliness lol!!

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  5. I also like the name Basil, but in real life a male bee does not gather nectar or pollen. I'm coming from a teaching background and think young kids should know science facts and enjoy fantasy, but want the fantasy for this age group to blend with the science facts. My suggestion is to change the him to a her and then I'd vote Yes, but as is it's a Maybe for me.
    Kudos to Susanna for an almost organized office...must start on mine soon!

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  6. I love this idea. I like the fact that the main character is a bee and it's about pollen, but it's not a science book; it's a story book with a plot based in natural science. I'm not sure I totally understand how the cat and the new unnamed pet are getting in the way of the bee, but maybe that will come with a reading of the book. I do concur with other commenters that even though this is not a science book, you should make sure you have your facts straight. I believe the bee should be a female (although maybe there are some species where a male collects pollen? I don't know). Bees obviously don't use a real "basket" to collect it, but some do have some basket-like contraptions on their bodies (in addition to just fur and hair that collects the stuff) as I understand--you could research that and find out if one of them would work for your purposes. But I do think it's okay to have a character bee carrying a basket; just wanted to point that out in case something else would work. Good luck!

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  7. A piano in your office . . . I am so jealous! Our 22-year-old Knabe stayed with the last house we sold. I don't even have a keyboard here.


    Thanks for ruining my day . . .


    Oh, wait.
    Mmm . . . chocolate.
    Aah . . . that's better!



    And congrats on your office! Sound like you're making real progress. You should sit down at the piano and celebrate with a little "Happy days are here again . . . "

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  8. Hurray for an almost-clean office! :) As for the pitch, the story sounds really cute! My main concern was already noted--what's with the cat and the new creature? Is the new creature another cat? I'm thinking either the story needs to be simpler, meaning, get rid of one of the animals, or the pitch needs to be more precise. Good luck! Thanks for sharing.

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  9. M-m-m (licking chocolate shake from my nose - perfect breakfast!). Now on to the story:
    Even though it's fiction, I think that a story about a bee ought to adhere to certain basic facts:
    1. the bees who do the work/collecting are females; so Basil ought to be a girl.
    2. They collect pollen in baskets (actually on their legs, but people call them "pollen baskets" - unless Basil is a ground-nesting bee who just gets covered in pollen.
    3. I can see collecting nectar in a bucket... and while guy bees (drones) don't collect nectar to bring back, they do slurp it up like - um - chocolate milkshakes.
    I also think maybe one garden bully (cat) or having the cat be a ringleader for a gang would be plenty. too many characters gets confusing.
    And since bee moms are called queens, I can totally see the bee refer to her mom as the queen mum.

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  10. Thank you for your very helpful and thoughtful contribution, Renee! I'm sure Kathy will find it very useful!

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  11. Thanks so much for your helpful input for Ms. Phillips, Erik!

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  12. Thank you for your thoughts for Kathy, Angela, and especially for your office-cleaning encouragement! When you say it, I feel like I can do it! :)

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  13. Gosh! I did not know that! I always thought the queen was the only female in the hive and that all the workers were male! It is so great to have so many intelligent, helpful people comment on these pitches! Thanks, Linda :)

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  14. Thanks so much for your very thoughtful comments for Kathy, Wendy! I'm sure she will find them very helpful!

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  15. Oh, no!!! I did not mean to ruin your day, Nancy! :( Please, have some more chocolate to make up for it! I'm excited to have unburied my piano because now I actually CAN play it. It does badly need to be tuned, though... poor little thing. Now, just for you, even if a little out of tune, "Happy days are here again...!" :)


























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  16. Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Kathy, Pam, and for cheering me on in my office-cleaning efforts! :)

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  17. I think I speak for everyone when I say, isn't it wonderful that we have so many well-edudated, smart, helpful people here to help with pitches?! I have learned a lot about bees today! Thanks so much for your input for Kathy, Sue!


























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  18. I am a maybe on this story. It is a cute one. I concur with the comments on trying to stay as true to the facts as possible without compromising story and character. As for the pitch it needs to be tighter and capture the essence of your story. Right now the pitch feels a little flat. I think Renee's suggestion is a good starting point. Good Luck.

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  19. Susanna - yeah to getting your office clean!

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  20. Thanks so much for chiming in for Kathy, Darshana!

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  21. Hooray for a mostly cleaned office!!


    I love reading Erin Molta's comments, as usual. Even though they're not my pitches, I always learn something.


    I would read today's story because I adore nature-related stories (bees are a favorite), but as others have already pointed out, I do wonder about the bee being male and having a concerned mother since worker bees are female and the one queen doesn't really give a hoot about an individual worker (or drone) because there are hundreds in the hive. But even if I were to overlook that, it is confusing, as Renee had already pointed out, to have what seems like 2 separate (or maybe 3 separate) issues - not gathering enough pollen, dealing with the cat, and a new hairy beast.


    Now, I'm off to enjoy that nice, cold milkshake you offered! ;) Happy Wednesday, Susanna!

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  22. I love the idea of you playing the piano, you myst record it sometime ;)

    This story is cute but I would take out the rhetorical question and give the bee a bit more character. Is he angry with the cat? Giggling about revenge? It sounds interesting.

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  23. Erin rocks! Good luck, Rachel.

    Jealous that you got your stuff filed, Susanna - it's a BIG problem for me!

    Now to Kathy's pitch: I love bees and gardening, so you had me with the theme, but the pitch doesn't seem clear. For one, I would consider a name change to avoid confusion, though it is cute. In the title the conflict sounds like a threat to the plants, then it seems a matter of enough pollen, then maybe it's the cat, and further along it's another beast. So I would suggest focussing on the main conflict in the pitch, and tighten, whatever it may BEE! Bets of luck, Kathy!

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  24. Oh boy, I need a pill to help correct my typos!

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  25. I'm finally here! 1/2 day of school :)

    Thank you Susanna for your help with comments :)

    Thank all of you for your comments...I do have questions so please bear with me while I catch up :)

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  26. We, too, are making progress with the going-thru-and-cleaning-out-and-packing-up. :) And I've decided to take my piano with us...it's a small spinet, but I love it and it holds many dear memories in each note played. :)


    The chocolate looks divine...thanks, Susanna!
    Glad the feedback on Rachel's story was so helpful...Erin gave her some great ideas!
    And I would definitely read Kathy's story...but agree that a couple of changes would probably be helpful...like changing Basil to a girl bee and clearing up the cat/hairy beast confusion. It's a really cute story concept! Kathy...we are moving to New Hampshire at the end of this month to live with our grandson and plan to do LOTS of fishing and hiking and nature stuff with him...where in Vermont are you?

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  27. Looks like Kathy has plenty of comments which cover the same ground I would -so I'm going to sit back and have a virtual sip o'chocolate. Forget cleaning your office, Susanna, you make me feel inadequate. LOL.

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  28. I'm a yes/maybe. Don't like your pitch opening with a question. It needs to be tighter and shorter. Your title hints at disaster which grabs the reader's attention, but I don't feel that in the pitch. Focus on the main conflict. Many have already given you good advice which cover what I was thinking. Good luck.
    Didn't know you played the piano Susanna. What do you play? And do you jam with your talented family?

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  29. Hi Renee,
    Thank you for the tips..It helps a lot :)

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  30. Hi Iza,
    Thanks for the hints :)
    I have so much trouble with pitches/queries.

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  31. Hello Linda,
    Thank you for your thoughts.
    When I wrote this story I only had a fun story in mind, but after sending this story to my crit group...Some of them thought it would be better suited to make it an "educational" type of story.
    So, maybe it's back to the keyboard for me :)

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  32. Hi Vivian,
    Thank you for your thoughts :)
    I live in Halifax...I'm about forty-five minutes away from Keene, NH :)

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  33. Hello to all of you WONDERFUL People.
    Thank you all for your thoughts. They will definitely help me :)
    When I wrote this story, I was thinking/the intention was to write it to be just a fun story. It never occurred to me to write it with factual information weaved through it.
    Now I'm wondering which direction to go with this? Fiction or non-fiction/educational story...lol
    As for the cat and new hairy beast....hmmm, I guess reading the story would help to understand those parts. So, with that being said and all of the wonderful tips you all gave me...It's back to the drafting board for me :)

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  34. lol...Thanks you Julie :)

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  35. Soooo Susanna,
    When you are finished cleaning your office...Does that mean you will come help clean other office's? :)

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  36. Hello Sue,
    Thank you for sharing :)
    I actually didn't realize that male bees do not collect pollen. I just thought all bees collect pollen and nectar and bring it back to the hive...hmmm. goes to show what I know...lol
    Thank you :)

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  37. I wouldn't make it an educational book, and didn't mean to imply that. Your concept is adorable. Just call the bee a girl and keep the basic story line. Course you'd have to change the wonderful name of Basil, but use it elsewhere maybe?

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  38. Been a while, so CONGRATS! New Grandbaby, hubby's music blowing up, choc milkshakes--all great things.

    Kathy, it sounds like a sweet story. I'd keep it fiction if you want it to be fiction, just with some verisimilitude. But mostly, I'd keep it simple: one central conflict, one antagonist, one to two sentences for the pitch.

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  39. I am a maybe on this one. I think the pitch needs to be more succinct and there should probably only be one conflict in a book for very young children. I am also confused about how a cat or other creature can disrupt a bee. Good luck with this.

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  40. OH my tummy! After the pumpkin roll I ate for breakfast and now the chocolate milk shake!ohhh!


    Do you clean other people's offices, Susanna? Please come over. :)


    As for the pitch. I agree with the others. And you have a good pitch after taking all that advice. I think it is a cute idea for both fiction and non fiction. Maybe you have two books?

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  41. I feel for Basil. One of our dogs ate cilantro yesterday and I had some explaining to do!
    I'm a yes. Is the problem the hairy beast or the cat? I think that needs to be clear, because I'm confused on which one really provides the conflict for Basil. As written, I don't feel like he's addressed the cat issue.
    Congrats on the clean office! Mine is a M-E-S-S! Sigh.

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  42. Yep, I'd read it and agree with the mentioned fixes. I kind of like the idea of weaving bee facts into the story.

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  43. Okay, so poor Basil has now become Jasmine (I actually had her in my original, but the crit group thought I should focus on Basil only...so Jasmine got deleted :( Well she's back! lol). Now how to gap the cat and new hairy beast? Unless I get rid of the cat? He did play a role in the story as the first obstacle, and then I added a new beast as another obstacle...so much to think about. What to do...what to do??? :)

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  44. Thanks for your helpful comments for Kathy, Teresa, and for cheering me on in my office-cleaning efforts :) I'm glad you enjoyed Erin's comments and the milkshake :)

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  45. Thanks so much for your take on Kathy's pitch, Catherine! And no... you don't want a recording of me playing the piano... To start with it's out of tune. And I'm out of practice because it's been buried under books and mss and laundry baskets full of my son's stuff from his dorm room etc for some time :)



























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  46. Glad you liked Erin's comments, Julie, and don't be too jealous... it took me weeks. Literally. From start to almost finish. It was a horror! :) Thanks for you helpful thoughts for Kathy :)

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  47. Go, Vivian, go! I know how hard that process is, but you can do it! And what a reward in the end :) I'm sure your piano is glad not to be left behind :) Thanks for your helpful comments for Kathy!

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  48. Don't feel inadequate, Wendy! It's taken me weeks! I am not making that up either. I wish I were :) And I'm not even done! Enjoy the milkshake and the day! :)



























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  49. Thanks for your thoughts for Kathy, Pat. And I learned classical piano. I'm not much good at jamming with the family - they're all much better than I am! - but I can pick out pretty much any tune by ear :)



























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  50. Yeah. I don't think you really want me Kathy. I am NOT a good cleaner. I'm entirely too tempted to shove things in the closet and behind the piano just so they're out of sight :) And I make up filing systems that make sense at the time but then later I can't figure out what my plan was :)


























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  51. Thanks, Stacy! You're sweet to keep up! :) I hope you've been enjoying the end of summer and doing lots of fun stuff! Thanks so much for your comments for Kathy!

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  52. Thanks so much for your thoughts for Kathy, Rosi - very helpful! :)




























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  53. Chocolate and pumpkin probably go very well together Clar. They are both in the Halloween food group :) I am burned out on office cleaning. No more!!! THanks for your thoughts for Kathy :)

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  54. I'm afraid to ask what might happen when a dog eats cilantro Stacy.... Thanks for your thoughts for Kathy, and good luck cleaning your office. Maybe your little helper will give you a hand :)

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  55. Thanks so much for chiming in for Kathy, Donna! :)

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  56. You are so funny, Kathy :) Basil has become Jasmine... :)




























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  57. lol...Sounds better than what I do...lol
    I just move things from one room to another and another and another :)

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  58. Thank you all for all your great thoughts :)
    Thank you Susanna for letting me post a pitch here :)
    Now I'm off to digest all this information and hopefully my brain will process it in the right direction!

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  59. Oh yeah, I do that too! And the worst thing is it's usually the office I dump things in because it's out of sight of the rest of the house - I can close the door and no one can see the disaster area :) Which is how I got into this mess to begin with! :)



























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  60. You're very welcome, Kathy! And do check back for the next couple days - we always get some comments in after Wednesday...


























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  61. Hey Susanna! Good job cleaning your office. You are ahead of me for sure. ;) Kathy, I like your pitch a lot. I think Basil is a darling name for a bee. So cute! I would recommend tightening the pitch to focus on the central problem. Right now you tell us (at least) three problems: trouble with his mother, trouble with the cat, and trouble with the new (undefined) beast. It's a little too much mystery for me. I want to know who and what to cheer for in a pitch. But this sounds like a wonderful story, and I would definitely keep reading. All the best!

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