April 9, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday #128 - Sammy Dougie Foxtrot: Look, Smile, Roar (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor PLUS the March Pitch Pick

My goodness we have a busy day today!

Good thing I gave you Monday off to rest up :)

First up, we have Straight From The Editor for Kristine, the February Pitch Winner.  You will recall her pitch:

Working Title: THE STEM GIRLS TAKE OFF
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 5-8)
The Pitch: Sophia wants to win the school science fair, but when her project won’t cooperate, she uses perseverance and teamwork to bring home the goal, proving that every girl can be a STEM girl.
Here are editor Erin Molta's comments:

This is a great premise and goodness knows, we definitely need more books about girls succeeding in science, technology, engineering and math. However, in order for this to catch an editor’s eye, you need to put a little more spark into it. It’s very generic right now. What is her science project? How was it not cooperating? Was she snubbed because she was a girl and had something to prove? It seems to infer that, but the focus in your pitch is on perseverance and teamwork, whereas it should be more specific. Think of the one thing that she did to get everyone to help her OR why her project was failing and base your pitch around that. And if there’s humor—see if you can get that in, too.

As always, I find Erin's comments so helpful and insightful!

Now, after all that education, we should probably have a snack :)  Something Chocolate anyone?  I'm in a cupcake mood. And this one is kind of cheerful and spring-like as well as luscious and chocolate, don't you think? :)
Scrumptious! :)

Now that we're all fortified, let's take a look at the awesome pitches from March and see which lucky writer is going to get her pitch reviewed by Erin.

#1 Karen - Puddles And Rainbows (PB ages 4-6)
Growing up is hard, but learning to rain might just prove harder. Either way, this Little Cloud needs plenty of patience and determination. A colorful discovery makes it all worthwhile.

#2 Ann - Sk8r Boy (PB ages 5-8)
Peter wants to be an ice skater but can’t because he’s homeless, and he doesn’t have the money for a pair of skates. But when there’s a poetry contest at school with a small cash prize, he may be able to make his smooth words glide and spin so that he can buy the skates and win his classmates’ respect.

#3 Beth - Martin's Perfect Web (PB ages 5-7)
In a quest to build a perfect web, a fussy spider confronts his biggest fears through an unlikely friendship with an inquisitive dragon.  Laurent the dragon takes Martin on a wild ride on his tail.  No one is more surprised at the ending than this stubborn intractable spider who finally learns how to relax, and enjoy the simple process of creating.

Please vote for the pitch you feel most deserves a read by editor Erin Molta in the poll below by Sunday April 13 at 5PM EDT.

Many thanks!!!

Today's pitch comes to us from Morgan who says. "I am an aspiring children's book writer, a licensed school psychologist, and a mother of two boys (ages 1 1/2 and 3), with another on the way. Reading and writing emotional literacy is my passion. I also enjoy writing social stories and making reward charts for fun!" 

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Sammy Dougie Foxtrot: Look, Smile, Roar
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Boogie along with Sammy Dougie Foxtrot and his trusted lion, PJ, on their courageous playground adventure. When PJ gets stuck in a sycamore tree, Sammy is scared: “The kind of scared when brakes on a truck screech, it’s dirt dumps, and it is as stiff as stabilizer legs.”Sammy discovers the true meaning of courage: that one can feel scared and brave at the same time. Even though the children at the playground look different, Sammy looks, smiles, and roars, bravely asking for their help. Find out if Sammy and the playground crew can work together to rescue PJ. “Look, Smile, Roar” enhances 4 to 8 year olds emotional literacy through the use of their imaginations. While entertaining, Sammy and PJ also emphasize tolerance and acceptance to promote early intervention. Oh, and I forgot to mention, they love to have fun! 

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 Morgan 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 July so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Morgan is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to the upcoming Illustrators Contest!  I really am!  Of course, we might not have any entries, but if we DO, think how awesome they will be!  I can't wait to see what our talented friends come up with to bring the March Madness Contest Winners' stories to life!  I have to learn how to do those convenient "tweet this" thingies - then I could helpfully put one here and make it so easy for all you guys to spread the word. I'll add it to my to-do list. . . which is exceedingly long. . . so don't hold your breath for convenient tweet thingies :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone! :)


Reactions:

70 comments:

  1. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikApril 9, 2014 at 7:20 AM

    I voted! :) Thanks for the cupcake, I really needed one today. Ms. Campbell ate all my doughnuts...
    I really like the opening sentece of the pitch. I got a little confused after that. Is the story about PJ getting stuck/lost, or that the kids on the playground look different and what does it have to do with boogieing? I like the message of the book summed up in the last sentence - so yes, I'd read the book because we should have more books with that message! :)

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  2. Morgan, this sure looks like an interesting read. I think you really only need a couple of sentences here to give a sense of the characters and key obstacles. I did wonder how is Sammy different from the other kids? Does he have a disability that needs mentioning in the pitch? Your two sentences are here, you just need to tease them out. I suggest something like: When Sammy's pet lion gets stuck in a sycamore tree, Sammy must overcome his fear of being different and ask other kids for help. Together they try x,y, z, showing Sammy that friends don't have to look the same (or some version of the theme your book has). Hope this helps!

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  3. Sounds like I need to add a few clarifications in my pitch. Good advice.

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  4. I don't know if I'm explaining too much, but here it goes: Sammy D. Foxtrot is actually scared to talk to the children at the playground because "he thinks" they are different. PJ (toy lion) convinces him to go to the playground and on their way dancing through the woods, PJ slips from Sammy's hand. He flies up in the air and gets stuck in a sycamore tree. Sammy D. Foxtrot has to be brave and talk to the other children and ask for their help to save PJ. One thing that I noticed with children books is that the main character is usually "different." I wanted the main character to "feel" as though others were different from him. (Side note: The funny thing is that Sammy D. Foxtrot loves to dance and is different in his own way). We all have our own idiocyncrasies, well at least I do : )

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  5. Unless Sammy has something clear-cut that makes him different, I might leave it out, because I think it raises more questions that it answers. As you say, most kids (and even adults!) have that feeling, so it doesn't really set him apart. Just keep thinking about what Sammy's key obstacle is. Is it overcoming shyness? Is it overcoming his fear that the kids won't help? Or maybe be clear cut about what he thinks makes him different and use that. Is his nose always in a book. Is it him dancing, when other kids run and jump? Just brainstorming here.

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  6. A divine cupcake, thanks, Susanna. An interesting concept, Morgan, but the pitch needs to be shortened, more concise. And that's coming from me for whom being concise just physically hurts! The first sentence is strong and hooks us so weed through it and revise. It's a yes for me!

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  7. Since we are always told to keep our pitch short and sweet and as enticing as that delicious looking cupcake I'm coveting, I would like to say that condensing your pitch would be very beneficial. It sounds like you have a fun idea for helping children to learn about courage. I think Kirsten Larson has given some wonderful, thought provoking ways to improve your pitch.
    Me being me, I would read it. I'm not sure if an editor would, due to the length (wordiness). Hope that is helpful.
    Susanna, please send me a dozen...no...make that three...dozen...of those cupcakes...they will be my reward for revisions and rough drafts! I will empty my freezer and put them in...surely hubby won't notice, will he? ;)

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  8. I voted and ate my cupcake! Now my tongue is pink from the icing! (I really know how to play along with yummy, virtual treats!)

    As far as the pitch, I am a maybe. As mentioned, it is too long for a PB pitch. I agree with Kirsten that you need to sum it up in a couple of sentences. You may have too many things going on in your story like Erik mentioned. That gets confusing. Maybe try to focus on the exact message/theme you want to bring with your story and then think of your pitch in terms of that. Once you get that strong, condensed pitch, I have a feeling it will help you in terms of your story, too. Sometimes when I try writing a pitch I can see that I have ventured away from my theme and need to revise my story to bring it back into focus.

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  9. Yes, I would read it, Morgan! I have two tiny suggestions for rewording and shortening this just a bit.
    The quote pulled me out of the flow of your pitch. What if you reworded that section like this: When PJ gets stuck in a sycamore tree, Sammy discovers the true meaning of courage: that one can feel scared and brave at the same time.
    And then later: Even though the children at the playground look different, Sammy bravely asks for their help.

    Nice job, Morgan! It sounds like a fun read!

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  10. In agreement with the others. I liked what you say is the message of the story, but I'm not sure what the story is. Starting your pitch with the word "boogie" made me think the story was about dancing. Then the language used to reference being scared made me think Sammy was a truck (not a child). But then talking about how other kids looked different made me think it couldn't be a truck! If he roars, is he a lion? I checked the other comments and Debbie had great concrete suggestions for simplifying. If Sammy is a child I think all you need to do is to add a few select details to that. (that Pj is a toy, how the children look different) Good luck!

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  11. Thank goodness for the cupcake...I would have been too weak to vote otherwise! ;) Erin made great points, per usual.

    I have to say that the others echoed my thoughts about today's pitch. I think it has lots of promise, but is definitely waaaay too long! I just spend the past week thinking of a 2 sentence pitch for a potentially 70,000 word YA novel, so I understand how hard it is to distill a book into a pithy paragraph, but every writer has to learn how to do that. The quote about being afraid confused me a bit too, as did the lion (is it a real lion? and should it be "trusty" as in "trusty sidekick" versus "trusted"?). Has anyone else mentioned that it should be "its" not "it's" in "it’s dirt dumps"? Good luck with this, Morgan!

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  12. This is a good reminder to be more concise when revising my pitch and my story. Thanks.

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  13. Well shortening my pitch will hopefully be easier than adding more words. As for the cupcakes, I don't think my husband would notice if I had some of those tasty treats, as my boys and I would probably eat them all up before he comes home. Well, maybe I would save him one ; ).

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  14. Feedback is great, but guidance is even better. Thanks for the advice. Your rewording still gets my message across.

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  15. Since I submitted my pitch a while back, I actually edited it so there were not so many ideas/themes. I definitely agree with the feedback and hope to get on an even better track after all your comments.

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  16. Rachel SchieffelbeinApril 9, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    I'm a maybe. It sounds cute and fun. But I agree with the others in that it's a bit confusing. Try tightening it up. :) Good luck!

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  17. Yes, one of my big changes recently was changing my description of scared so it didn't get confused with "trucks." Sounded cute in my head but I think much smoother now and hopefully not confusing to the reader. Thanks.

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  18. I feel bad, Morgan! You could easily have given me your updated version to post!

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  19. Such a pretty cupcake - I am truly tempted!

    I would give the pitch a maybe as it stands, too long and repetitive. Here is a tightened attempt, but I would add detail as to how they go about the rescue, because at this point, I am not sure if the conflicting emotions, the teamwork or the use of imagination is the main takeaway.

    Sammy discovers he can feel scared and brave at the same time when PJ gets stuck in a tree. To rescue his trusted Lion, Sammy needs to overcome his fears and get the playground crew to work together.

    “Look, Smile, Roar” enhances 4 to 8 year old's emotional literacy through the use of imagination with emphasis on tolerance and acceptance to promote early intervention.



    Good luck, Morgan!

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  20. I like the idea of a kid and a lion and finding courage. Got thrown by the trucks...

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  22. I give the pitch a maybe because the characters interest me but there's a lot going on in the pitch and I can't actually sort out what the crux of the plot is. If it were simplified to the main conflict it might be a yes!

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  23. After writing painstakingly long and detailed psych reports, children stories are refreshing and very different.There is hope though. If you can narrow down a 70,000 word novel, I think I can do the same with less than 700 words. : )

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  24. Thanks so much for sharing your impressions with Morgan, Kara! :)

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  25. It IS pretty, isn't it? :) Thanks so much for your helpful suggestions and pitch-rewording, Julie!

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  26. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts for Morgan, Rachel!

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  27. I feel it my hostessly duty to make sure all my visitors are properly fortified! :) Thank you for your thoughtful comments for Morgan, Teresa!

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  28. Thank you for your insightful comments for Morgan, Wendy!

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  29. Thank you for your very thoughtful rewording of the pitch, Debbie - so helpful :)

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  30. I'm so glad you enjoyed the cupcake, Penny! Would you like a glass of milk to go with it? Perhaps you could have a milk mustache :) Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Morgan!

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  31. Thank you for your thoughts for Morgan, Rene! And I will send out those cupcakes ASAP. Of COURSE your husband won't notice - that is why you shall put the cupcakes in a bag marked "Turkey gizzards" :)

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  32. I'm glad you liked the cupcake, Linda! And I KNOW - conciseness DOES hurt - I'm so glad to know someone else understands this! Thank you for your helpful comments for Morgan!

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  33. Thank you for your very helpful suggestions for Morgan, Kirsten!

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  34. The early bird gets the cupcakes :) Thanks for your helpful thoughts for Ms. Morgan - I know she will appreciate them!

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  35. Rene` Diane AubeApril 9, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    LOL! That's sure to work! :D YIPPEE!!

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  36. I'm also in the maybe camp on this one. I'm not even sure if Boogie or Sammie Dougie Foxtrot are kids. The quote about the truck lost me on the last part. I'm not sure what's meant by that. I think the pitch is too long, but I like the concepts of learning to overcome fear and facing things that scare us.

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  37. Great feedback, yummy cupcake and tough choice. I really liked two of them. As for the pitch I would simply stop at help. I love the quote in there, great idea!

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  38. Agree with the others, lots of themes. I would choose one or two of the most important to the plot and emphasize. Also not sure if the kids on the playground are different than Sammy or just the lion. Have fun with it!

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  39. Some great tips from Erin on specificity in a pitch. Along those lines, I might trim some of Morgan's pitch and replace parts with concrete facts. My questions: How were the other kids different? How did he get them to work together to save PJ?


    My attempt:
    Sammy doesn't mix well with the other kids, who all (specifically how they are different). But when his his toy lion PJ gets stuck in a tree, Sammy (smiles, roars, specific bonding action), bravely gathering the troops to save PJ.

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  40. Great tips from Erin and yummy cupcake! The pitch has a lot going on and it sounds like it could be a good story, but it is confusing. I would shorten it and make it clearer. I don;t understand why Sammy roars when it seems PJ is his lion. Also, I would not put in the part about how the book enhances emotional literacy, tolerance and acceptance. An editor should arrive at that conclusion after reading the story. The crux is to spur the editor's interest to read the story. Keep in mind that the best books have understated messages. Hope this helps!

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  41. This is helpful, as well as gets the main points across of my story : )

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  42. It helps immensely. Editors know the meanings of stories that have clear messages. They read stories ALL the time and this is their area of expertise. No need to explain to them : ).

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  43. "I would simply stop at help."... me too. Help, help, help! : ) That's why I'm here today. Thanks for all the help.

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  44. I .thoroughly enjoyed indulging in that swirly topped, sweet treat with my afternoon tea, Susanna. Thanks!
    Erin's comments are such that I can easily transfer some of her suggestions to my own upcoming WYRI pitch...I'd best get to it and get it to you, Susanna!
    Morgan, I agree with most of what others have said already. I guessed that Sammy's last name had something to do with dancing, though I couldn't tell from your pitch how, or if, it impacted the story plot. Your "true meaning of courage" quote is what would truly hook me once the rest of the pitch is tightened up.
    Good luck with your manuscript!

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  45. Thanks so much for your helpful suggestions for Morgan, Iza! :)

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  46. Thanks for your very helpful rewording of the pitch, Stacy!

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  47. Thanks so much for your input, Keila! Very helpful!

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  48. Glad you enjoyed the cupcake, Catherine :) and thanks for voting and for your comments for Morgan!

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  49. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on the pitch, Rosi!

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  50. Kim PfennigwerthApril 9, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    I am playing catch up. Sorry for the late in the day post but mmm so glad a cupcake was waiting! :) I am in the same camp as others. The story interests me but the pitch is confusing. I don't understand the boogieing, the roaring, or the trucks and stabilizer legs. It would be easier for a young audience to grasp a simpler theme. What is Sammie's fear? Is it stuttering? shyness? Is he a new kid and doesn't know anyone else? But I do love that he is willing to overcome whatever his fear is to get help for PJ. Keep going with this.

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  51. Thanks so much for your input, Kim! And I'm glad you enjoyed the cupcake :)

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  52. Voted! That cupcake is yummy. It seems you've gotten some great advice. It's obvious you're very good with words. Love your writing. Wish I could read the entire story. So I guess that makes it a yes I would read it. As lovely as your words are, I agree with everyone, too many. I can't wait to see how you tighten this up and intrigue us with an edited version.

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  53. Thanks so much for your positive and supportive comments, Pam :) Have another cupcake :)

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  54. Can we please leave with Pamela's comment? : ) Thank you, that really means a lot to me.I appreciate everyone's professionalism in regards to all the feedback. As you know, it is difficult to have others critique your work. Also, Susanna, kudos to you for gathering such a great group of people to participate in critiquing the pitches.

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  55. Just loved the STEM girl pitch from Kristine...I'm happy Erin came through with great advice....as always. :) The cupcake is luscious, thank you Susanna...and I voted, although they all sound like they will be excellent stories.
    Morgan...you have a wonderful book here...and, as the others have mentioned, you only need to tighten the pitch. Penny and Kristen and others had specific pitch fixes that will give you great direction with that. Best of luck with the story...it sounds like you have a lot of expertise in this field...maybe you will do a series to help young children cope with the many challenges they encounter in their early years.

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  56. You are a fine hostess, Susanna! :D

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  57. You know, Morgan, sometimes, oddly enough, it's harder to distill my short PB stories into a couple of lines than it is to distill the 50K, or more, word novels. The psych reports sound very interesting too...though not in the same way children's stories are. LOL!

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  58. Glad you enjoyed Erin's advice and the cupcake, Vivian, and thanks so much for your helpful comments for Morgan! :)

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  59. I'm glad if it's been helpful, Morgan. And really, I can't take credit. We are lucky to have such a fabulous group of smart, generous people to help with critiquing pitches. We all benefit so much!

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  60. I was intrigued by "even though the children in the playground look different" and wanted more specifics about that. I think the pitch would work better if it were about half as long. And be sure to change "it's dirt dumps" to "its dirt dumps" before sending to an editor!

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  61. Thank you so much for your helpful comments for Morgan, Michelle!

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  62. Sorry, I'm a late. Mom duties called. I too agree that the pitch would work better if it was shortened. There's a few different themes going on that make the pitch seem a little confusing. I think that it would sound a lot better if the author chose just one of those themes and spruced it up. As a children's librarian I could see myself giving this a look. Nice job! :)

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  63. Thank you so much for your comments for Morgan, Brandie. It is thrilling to have a children's librarian here to comment on pitches!!! :)

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  64. I think it sounds like a good story but the pitch should be tightened up a bit, I think, to make it really clear exactly what the story is about. The words 'Boogie' and 'Foxtrot' from the first sentence made think dancing would be involved, though the rest doesn't sound like it is. The same with the line about dump trucks. In the line that says '...8(-)year(-)olds(') emotional literacy through the use of their imaginations', maybe you could show how their imaginations are used?

    Good luck and best wishes.

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  65. Love the analogy. After reading your pitch, I think would really like to read that story... oh, wait... that's my story : ). Thanks for the suggestions.

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  66. Erin's comments are very helpful. Sometimes we try so hard to make the agent want to read more that we end up being too secretive. Great advice!

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