May 14, 2014

Would You Read It #133 - Orville Wright's Final Flight (NF PB) PLUS The April Pitch Pick

Golly! What a busy day!

By the time you read this (unless you're a serious early bird or in Europe or something) I will be on my way to a school visit - the first of a two-day pair - so please forgive me if I'm a little behind in responding to you all today.  It's Books Journey time again, so I'll be off teaching writing workshops to 4th graders.  Luckily, since it's Wednesday, I'll be fortified with Something Chocolate!

And just LOOK at this gorgeous Something Chocolate!
http://www.jasonandshawnda.com/foodiebride/archives/13464/
Is it cake?  Is it pie?  Who knows?  Who cares?!  It looks so incredibly delicious it won't be around long enough to debate :)  (And Julie, I hope you notice that I put raspberries there just for you since you're a little more delicate than the rest of us about chocolate before 9 AM :))

Now that everyone except Julie is in a chocolate coma, it's time for the April Pitch Pick!  Please read the following pitches, most of which have been revised based on your excellent feedback, and vote for the one you think most deserves a read and comments from editor Erin Molta.

#1 Frances - Peter and Asbury - Picture Book (ages 4-8) 
Peter is a shy, socially awkward six-year old boy whose best friend just happens to be an ancient oak tree he calls Asbury.  When Peter learns that Asbury will be cut down, he comes up with a plan to keep the memory of Asbury alive forever.  The unlikely bond that develops between boy and tree helps Peter discover a very special talent that he and Asbury will one day share with the whole world.  

#2 Morgan - Sammy Dougie Foxtrot: Look, Smile, Roar - Picture Book (ages 4-8)
Courage does not come easy to Sammy D. Foxtrot who must overcome his playground fears of dirt, race chairs, and insects! His playground adventure goes awry after his stuffed lion, PJ, gets stuck in a tree. With a Look, Smile, & Roar, Sammy D. Foxtrot discovers the true meaning of courage: that one can feel scared and brave at the same time. Will bravery prevail or will he leave his friend hanging?

#3 Charlotte - Roy G. Biv And The Amazing Castle Moat - Picture Book (ages 5-8)
When a sudden summer rainstorm spares their sand fortress, Sam and Sophie discover a swirl of colors and a surprise visitor, Roy G. Biv, in the castle moat. Sam thinks the arrival of the visitor, who speaks in rhyme, must be a trick. Sophie is delighted by it all. The siblings discover that the magic of Roy G. Biv is actually quite real.

#4 Sean - Todd's Top Secret Dance Moves - Picture Book (ages 6-8)
His moves are smoother than a buttery bowling ball sliding over a field of silk tuxedos. And Todd is ready to reveal them all: the Fuzzy Banana, the Lunch Lady, the Frosty Snowman, and many more. Follow the footsteps of a dynamite dancer and try to resist tapping your feet. If you want to dance like Todd, the first secret is... 

#5 Janet - You're A Pest, Betsy Thumbslurp (Early Chapter Book)
Betsy's arrival turns poor Coco's comfy world of cuddles and cake (all shapes, all sizes but preferably pink!) upside down. Her thumb sucking, pampered baby sister mixes up the familiar flavours of family life. Is  Coco really no longer the apple of her parents’ eyes and will she feel rotten when she serves up some just desserts?

Please vote for your favorite by Sunday May 18 at 9 PM EDT.  Many thanks! :)


Today's pitch comes to us from Todd.  Todd is a 22 year veteran teacher/librarian/technology specialist who works teaches Kindergarten to fourth grade in Winnetka, IL.  Being a lover of children's literature, he's finally jumped into the literary world.  He is passionate about bringing history to life for children.

Here is his pitch:

Working Title: Orville Wright's Final Flight
Age/Genre: Nonfiction Picture Book (ages 7-12)
The Pitch: When man’s first flight is mentioned, most of us can conjure up an image of that fragile craft lifting from the sands of Kitty Hawk.  Very few of us, however, know much about Orville Wright’s final flight.  That flight came at a pivotal point in World War II when the airplane had become the backbone of the United States military.  It must have been bittersweet for Orville to see he and Wilbur’s creation being used to cause such destruction.  That makes his final flight all the more meaningful.  The C-69 Constellation would move troops to the front and would help end the war.  It would also become the workhorse of the civilian aviation industry.  He must have been amazed at how far aviation had come in just over forty short years.  Orville didn’t know it at the time, but this would be his final flight.  

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 Todd improve his 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.)

Todd is looking forward to your thoughts on his pitch!  I am looking forward to all those eager 4th graders!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)


Reactions:

75 comments:

  1. I love the title, Todd, very catchy. However, the pitch is way too long and feels like a history book. The last part of your pitch seems to hold the pertinent information. Can u restate that in a fun manner to catch the eye of kids? Something like: After 40 years of flying and the famed Kitty Hawk flight, Orville Wright is about to embark on his final flight for the US Military to help end WW II. Others here will be able to rewrite it even better!

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  2. PS. Have a fun time at the schools, Susanna. And the cake/pie looks scrumptious!

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  3. I agree with Tina on all counts- including the great title! Focus on the latter part of the pitch and make it more concise and intriguing- rather than just stating facts. Also a typo in the following line (he should be his) : to see he and Wilbur’s creation.

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  4. Chocolate!! Oh, you know I can't stand the stuff, Susanna! Hah!

    Voted! It was hard, as usual.

    As for the pitch: I would love to read the story because I love NF and who doesn't want to know everything about the Wright Bros? But, I also echo all of Tina's comments. It has to be a lot more succinct and preferably without the conjectures (like "he would have been amazed..." Take a look at Vivian's pitch last Wednesday to see an example of a pithy pitch. Best of luck! It sounds similar to a very cool PB on Chester Nimitz I recently read...truly fascinating!

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  5. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikMay 14, 2014 at 8:10 AM

    AWESOME idea for a picture book! I would LOVE to read it! I think the pitch doesn't need to be that long. "Orville Wright's first flight may have been his most famous, but his final flight, during a pivotal point during WWII, was his most important." or something like that...

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  6. Have a fun trip, Susanna!
    I would read - but the pitch feels like a summary. And it reads as if Orville flies to his death. If this isn't the case, I'd make that clear! I get the impression that nothing will be "at stake" during this final flight and that it is more a moment of reminiscing about the history of flight. Maybe it could be something as simple as: Everyone knows the story of Orville Wright's first flight at Kittyhawk, NC but his final flight is often overlooked. Journey through aviation history with Orville as the C-69 Constellation helps end World War II. (sorry if that isn't your focus, Todd, it's hard to pitch without reading the ms!)

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  7. I agree with the previous comments. If you reword the pitch with language that is more appealing and engaging to kids, and focus on the key parts, you'll be on your way!

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  8. Karen Mae ZoccoliMay 14, 2014 at 8:52 AM

    Hi Todd, I love the title of this book and all that it encompasses, and I would definitely read it. I feel your pitch, however, is a bit too long and not quite working in the spirit of a true pitch. Realizing this is NF, I think you need to try and tighten up the facts while still giving the reader a hook that makes us say "wow, that is really interesting!" I think you have plenty of good information, it just needs to be streamlined into a more concise pitch. Here's something that may help start the engines.... "Orville Wright may be best remembered for his infamous flight at Kitty Hawk, but it is is final flight that took his knowledge of aviation in a new direction as it became the backbone of the U.S. Military WWII prowess, etc. " or something like that. Good luck and great idea for a PB!

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  9. The cake is gone, by the way, I munched through my screen and ATE it. And it took me an hour to recover from my sugar coma. ;)

    I agree with the others, Todd. Super fun and interesting idea - but the pitch is WAY too long. And less conjecture. Just the facts, but it in delightful, catchy way. And I LOVE the title with its rhyme and alliteration and all :)

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  10. Have fun at the schools, Susanna. They are lucky to get you!! I totally agree with the others. Though the concept is absolutely fascinating, the pitch is too long, almost austere. Have you asked yourself why does it need to be a picture book? Sounds to me like it would make a terrific MG. NF is on the rise with Common Core standards and both girls & boys like reading lively NF. Anyway, I would def. read it. Best of luck with this, Todd.

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  11. Kim PfennigwerthMay 14, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    I would read it and I agree with Tina. Love the title! but a shorter focused pitch would be more inviting. Why exactly should we want to read this story? Orville's history? The war plane? Orville late in life? Was it bittersweet? Did he anticipate the flight to see how this plane maneuvers or did he dread it and why?

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  12. Todd, love the title. The pitch reads more like a summary to me. Shorten it up a tad and make it a bit more catchy and you're golden! :) I'm always looking for good NF picture books to give to the kids in the library and there aren't too many great ones written on this subject matter.


    Susanna...I'm now drooling all over a stack of children's books at my desk.
    And all the pitches for April were good. It was hard to choose.

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  13. Thanks for the fruit rations, Susanna - hope you are having a blast with those kids! I love history and the title is catchy, so I would definitely want to read Todd's story. Off the bat, the pitch is too long. The first sentence is unnecessary - we do that after hearing the title. If you could add a more personal note about his emotion/efforts/struggles the elements could be arranged to cause a little more excitement:

    Orville didn’t know it at the time, but this would be his last flight. His final creation supported the country's military efforts at a pivotal point in WWII. Used to move troops to the front and to help end the war, it would eventually become the workhorse of the civilian aviation industry. (add personal 'reflection' piece here).

    Good luck, Todd.

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  14. I would read this book because it presents a different lens of the Wright brothers’ story that most folks don’t know about. I think the targeted age group would read this, especially boys, because of the war element. Hate to sound sexist, but I know from my teaching career how much boys devour any WW2 story. Add a plane and they’re hooked.
    I have concern after reading Todd’s pitch: the pitch is a broad overview of the story and I am left wondering if the focus is more on Orville’s flight or the story of the plane. Maybe a bit more focus to the pitch is needed.

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  15. Vivian KirkfieldMay 14, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    Hi Todd...so lovely to meet you! Your story is AWESOME...I would pick up this book immediately! Love the title...love the premise. I agree with the others that shortening and tightening the pitch would make it pitch-perfect! Your writing is smooth and well-done. ;) You've gotten several great suggestions here already...I love Julie's pitch-fix beginning...and I think if you take out a lot of the info (which they will read in your wonderful book) and add a bit of the personal tension/conflict/problem of that final flight, you will be all set. ;)
    Thanks for the chocolate, Julie...it's chocolate time somewhere, right? For me, chocolate works 24 hours a day. :)

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  16. Agreed, this is a great title and a great concept. Pitch, as others have said, would be stronger if it started in the middle of the action a bit more. something like: You've heard of Orville Wright's first flight -- but did you know that his last flight helped to end World War II? Aim for 60 words or so . . . and practice in elevators . . . . good luck with this wonderful idea.

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  17. Yes I would read it. I love books that take on an angle that most people don't usually think of. Great title but I'd work on shortening the pitch, as others have mentions. Don't give away too much details, you want to leave the reader hungry for more!

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  18. Yes, I certainly would read it, and think Tina's advice is dead-on, Todd. Good luck with your story. :0)

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  19. Your glorious chocolate pics make me start salivating, Susanna! Todd's book sounds like a great one for its intended audience. I, too, feel the pitch is too long. Maybe, short and sweet like a chocolate dessert?

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  20. Voted. Great pitches all round!


    The final flight: Such a great take on Orville Wright, Todd! I agree with Tina, though--start with the main point of your book, use only the necessary facts, and keep it kid-friendly (read: catchy).
    E.g.: Forty years after his famed Kitty Hawk flight, Orville Wright flew for the last time.

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  21. The Wright Brothers flew more flights after Kitty Hawk??? Whaaaat? I am fascinated and would definitely read this book. I agree with Tina and many of the other commenters. Shorter and less historical would make the pitch better. I'm not a fan of history, but this concept draws me in.

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  22. Thanks so much for your helpful suggestions for Todd, Tina, and for your possible re-wording of the pitch!

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  23. I know! I didn't know that either! Thanks for your comments for Todd, Genevieve!

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  24. Thanks so much for voting, Stacy, and for your very helpful comments for Todd! :)

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  25. And yet, chocolate desserts never seem to last long enough for me! :) Thanks of your suggestions for Todd!

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  26. Thanks so much for chiming in, Donna!

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  27. Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Todd, Kimberly!

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  28. Thanks so much for your suggestions for Todd, Christy, and for your very helpful re-wording of the pitch!

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  29. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments for Todd, Vivian! And I'm with you - it's always chocolate time :)

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  30. Frances Moshos KalavritinosMay 14, 2014 at 8:05 PM

    Hi, Todd. Yes, I would definitely read your story. I am intrigued by stories that take an unexpected approach to a very familiar character or story. I never even thought about the Wright Brothers' other flights beyond the early ones, so I'm very curious to learn more. Also, the use of the word "Final" in your title sets a suspenseful tone. I agree with the other comments regarding the need to tighten your pitch.

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  31. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on the pitch and your experience with boys' reading, Kathy! I know Todd will find both very helpful!

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  32. You're welcome, Julie dearest :) And thank YOU for this very thoughtful and helpful pitch re-wording for Todd!

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  33. Thank you for your helpful suggestions for Todd, Brandie! Sorry about the drool :) And thanks for voting - I know it was a tough choice!

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  34. Thank you so much for your thought-provoking questions, Kim. I'm sure Todd will find them very helpful in re-thinking his pitch!

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  35. Thank you, Linda! I had a great time today - here's hoping tomorrow will go as well :) Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts for Todd!

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  36. I'm so glad you enjoyed the cake, Joanne :) I hope you had a nice nap afterward :) Thanks for your helpful suggestions for Todd!

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  37. Ooh, I like that Karen! Thank you so much for your helpful suggestions and potential pitch re-wording for Todd!

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  38. Thanks so much for chiming in, Katie - very helpful! :)

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  39. Thanks, Wendy! So far so good with the kiddos - we had fun today :) And thanks so much for your very helpful suggestions and possible pitch re-wording for Todd!

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  40. Thanks for your very helpful comments for Mr. Burleson, Erik! I know he will appreciate them!

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  41. Well, Teresa, since you can't stand chocolate maybe Julie will share the raspberries :) Thanks so much for voting and for your very helpful comments for Todd!

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  42. Good catch, Iza! Thank you! And thanks for your thoughtful suggestions!

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  43. Thanks, Tina! Today was lots of fun - hope tomorrow will be too :) And I'm so glad you like the cakepie - recipe is at the link below it :)

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  44. Thanks so much for your thoughts for Todd, Frances! I'm sure he will be very glad of your reaction to his pitch :)

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  45. I would TOTALLY read this book but this reads as more of a synopsis than pitch. It just needs to be condensed a little. Hope the school visits go well, Susanna.

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  46. Susanna, I hope your visits went well---and most of all were fun! :) Since virtual chocolate is the only kind I'll indulge in right now, I helped myself to TWO gluttonous portions, thank you very much :)


    I just read all the helpful comments and agree with so much of what was suggested about Todd's pitch, including the very catchy, alliterate/assonant title :) What's great, too, is that subject matter is smack in your face at the same time!


    I definitely agree that the pitch is a bit too long; it needs to be about half the length, I would think. Initially I was going to work on a rewrite (great practice :) ) in the effort to help, but first did a tad of research on the Wright Brothers. What I learned is that their flight was not the first actual manned flight so, although credited with the "first," removing that word would be more accurate.


    The angle/premise really is intriguing, as everyone has stated! I know I would (do) find it fascinating and I think it has a really good chance to draw an editor's attention, but it needs to "grab" it in a more aggressive way. Everyone has already suggested different ways of accomplishing that :), and I think what I'll add here (and has probably been mentioned through the years on this blog!) is that you need to think of a pitch like a movie trailer. What, more than anything, IMMEDIATELY piques interest and then holds it in a compelling way? (I believe it was Kim P. who actually asked questions to help focus on that.)


    There is one thing I heard mentioned several times that I actually disagree with. It's my opinion that your pitch should not be "kid-friendly;" that's more for the jacket flap and the book itself, I would think. The pitch needs to be specifically targeting the industry professional your querying. In your pitch you are marketing directly to that person who needs to, in turn, market/champion your book. Excite that person and they'll be more inclined to think they can excite acquisitions and hopefully be interested in seeing your work because of it :)

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  47. Susanna, you are the BEST at chocolate! Sorry to be a bit late chiming in here on Todd's story. I was lucky enough to grab a sneak peek and I already love it! Great comments, everyone!

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  48. Great to hear that you've read the story and love it, Pat! That's even more important than the pitch! :) Glad you enjoyed the chocolate cakepie :)

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  49. Wow! Thanks so much for all your helpful advice for Todd, Donna! And I'm glad you enjoyed the piecake :)

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  50. Thanks, Joanna, for the comments for Todd and the good wishes :) The school visits were very fun :)

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  51. I was going to add my two cents, but there is plenty of good advice already here, so here's one cent: Shorten up. Find the hook and get it front and center. Was Orville unhappy that the airplane was the backbone of war machinery? If so, that might be a good beginning.


    t's a great topic, and will attract many readers.

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  52. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments for Todd, Julia!

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  53. Your book, Orville Wright's Last Flight, piques my interest. Yes, I would read your book and I know kids, ages 7~12, will, too. I am a little late to the conversation and perhaps a *little new,* to rate your pitch, as I continue to learn and grow, while my writing aspirations evolve. And so, without sounding like a *copy cat,* based on previous suggestions, I, too, note words to cut. May I make two suggestions for the first sentence? . . . most of us conjure up an image of a fragile air craft . . . [I deleted two words: can, that]. I am *stuck* on the word fragile. There is a conflct with the word fragile and workhorse. Two suggestions for revision: Perhaps it was bittersweet for Orville to see . . . [I deleted the words: It must have been] He must have felt amazed . . . [I deleted been and added the word felt]. All the best to you, Todd. This GROG friend is proud of you. With sincere gratitude, I thank you for your service.

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  54. Thank you for your very thoughtful comments for Todd, Suzy! I'm sure he will appreciate them :)

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  55. Excellent points on the focus Kathy. Thank you!

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  56. Vivian, thank you. I'm working on tightening it up. I appreciate your comments.

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  57. Christy,
    Excellent suggestions. Thank you!

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  58. I'm glad the concept is interesting. Tightening it up will hopefully make it pitch perfect!

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  59. Donna,
    Thank you. I agree; need to tighten it up a bit.

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  60. Julie, I really like your suggestions. Thank you!

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  61. Thank you Brandie; I agree. Too summary like. I'm working on tightening it up.

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  62. Excellent questions Kim. Thank you.

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  63. I agree Linda, with CC, NF is even more important. It's a good time to write it. Thank you for your insights.

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  64. Thank you Joanne. I love the way OWFF rolls of my tongue too. I'm working on tightening it up a bit. Thank you.

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  65. I like it too Karen. Thank you for the suggestions.... applying them now!

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  66. Great! Thank you Katie.

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  67. Excellent point Wendy. Thank you.

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  68. Interesting. I like the very succinct way you put it.

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  69. Teresa, I'm working on just that right 'pithy pitch.' Thank you for your insight and guidance.

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  70. Wow! Thank you for so much help Suzy!

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  71. Thank you Julia.

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  72. You are welcome, Todd. All the best.

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  73. Janet Sue DawsonJuly 2, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    Hello Todd, I would definitely read your book. Love history and I'm happy that your book is for children. Good luck to you.

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  74. Thanks so much for chiming in for Todd, Janet! :)

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