July 2, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday #140 - Escalators Don't Bite! A Little Traveler's Guide To Airports (PB) PLUS The May Pitch Pick

Golly how time doth fly!

Second time in a row it's been a whole week since I posted!  How are you all doing?  Having good summers so far, I hope?

Let's see... What have I been up to this week...?  I went to the NJ SCBWI Conference which was fabulous!  It would have been great just for the speakers and workshops etc, but it was over-the-top great because I got to meet so many people in real life that I've known online for a long time.  I hate to make a list because I inevitably forget someone and then feel bad for leaving them out when of course I didn't mean to, so suffice to say, you all know who you are and it was AWESOME to meet you! :)  I also went to Pennsylvania on a college visit and seriously saw the most unbelievable amount of tire material on the side of Interstates 84 and 81 that it made me worry for Princess Blue Kitty, but so far she appears unscathed :)  All that traveling took up most of the week.  So I feel like I've been very unproductive! :)

I had a great plan for today's Something Chocolate.  The lovely Lauri, whom I met at NJ SCBWI, so very kindly brought me a present!  It was meltable white chocolate wafers and a mold with all kinds of sheep in it so I can make white chocolate sheep to go with Can't Sleep Without Sheep!  Isn't she amazing and thoughtful???!!!  I'm so excited to try it, and I was going to do it and share with you for today's Something Chocolate.  But it turns out that I cannot drive to Pennsylvania and make chocolate sheep at the same time, so it's going to have to wait for another week.  In the meantime, we shall make do with something summery and chocolate: White Chocolate Strawberry Muffins (because it's so late while I'm writing this that it's practically breakfast time and my thoughts are turning fondly to muffins :))



So, it appears in the craziness of June that we somehow never got around to the May Pitch Pick, so here it is today.  Our brave and talented May pitchers have worked hard to revise their pitches based on your feedback and here they are:

#1 Vivian - The Long Wait For Mom - PB (ages 5 and up)
Sophie finds a huge hole in her life and an ache in her heart after Mom is deployed. Trying to speed up time by keeping busy, Sophie jumps rope, writes letters and bakes cookies. But when she involves her community in a project to bake cookies for soldiers who don’t have families, Sophie discovers that helping others is the best way to help yourself while waiting for the ones you love.

#2 Todd - Orville Wright's Final Flight - NF PB (ages 7-12)
Orville Wright may be best remembered for his first flight, but it was his final flight 41 years later would completely change the world of aviation.  

#3 Linda - I Know What I’m Doing - Picture Book (ages 3-7)
Lizzie likes to explore her world all by herself. When her parents caution her about trying something new, her reply is always, I know what I’m doing!  Each day of the week, Lizzie gets herself into some kind of minor trouble, until Saturday, when she gets stuck in a tree and has to finally admit she doesn’t always know what she’s doing. Does Lizzie learn to ask for help from now on?

#4 Steve - Princess Petulia's Problem - PB (ages 5-8)
Princess Petulia had the longest hair you ever saw. It was long, it was luscious, it was glossy and glamorous and Princess Petulia … hated it. Children stood on it, birds made nests in it, but the Kings number one rule was NO HAIRCUTS  and kings can't be disobeyed. Fortunately, when she bumped in to the old gardener with the pruning shears and the shaky hands, Princess Petulia saw the perfect solution to her problem.

Please vote for the one you think most deserves a read and comment by editor Erin Molta in the poll below by Sunday July 6 at 5 PM.  I'll announce the winner next week.

Today's pitch comes to us from Michelle who is a mom, a teacher, and a writer.  She blogs at http://amomnextdoor.wordpress.com/about/

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Escalators Don't Bite! A Little Traveler's Guide To Airports
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 2-7)
The Pitch: Serious Salim wants to be sure his family makes their flight to visit Grandma and Grandpa, but he's worried about his little sister, Malika. It's her first time at the airport, and he knows how much trouble she can be. His Little Travelers' Guide to Airports is just the ticket to make sure everyone gets to the gate on time!

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 Michelle 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 September 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!

Michelle is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to Fourth Of July Weekend!  And I hope you all have a great one!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, and Happy Fourth!!! :)




Reactions:

51 comments:

  1. Vivian KirkfieldJuly 2, 2014 at 8:17 AM

    No - really - am I the first to comment? I guess I'm not usually up this early. :) Thanks for the lovely muffins, Susanna - and for giving us this awesome platform for our pitches.

    I'm glad you had such a good time at the conference - and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Princess Blue Kitty and the trips she still needs to take this summer. :)

    Michelle - I would DEFINITELY read this story! I remember it from the 12x12 1st 250 word Forum, right? I love your story - and I honestly can't think of anything to rearrange or tighten in your pitch. Maybe some of the others will have some suggestions, but for me, it look pretty pitch perfect! The only thing I can think of to change would be to change one word in this sentence: His Little Travelers' Guide to Airports may be just the ticket to make sure everyone gets to the gate on time: Best of luck with this story, Michelle!

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  2. Chocolate for breakfast? Yes, please! That makes it healthy right? Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

    Michelle--I think you idea for your book is fabulous! I can imagine lots of parents wanting to read this to their little one's to prepare them for an airplane trip. But based on your pitch I might only say maybe to reading it.
    The first thing that held me up was the names of the characters and not having a clue how to pronounce them. I understand that people often name characters after important people in their live so perhaps the names are near and dear to your heart. But I can see how parents might have trouble reading this book out loud if they don't know how to say the names. And I can definitely see kids stumbling over these names if they tried to read it out loud. (But then again, how awesome would it be for kids with these names to see their unique names in a book!)

    I almost think rather than saying how much trouble his sister can be you should say how much trouble she could get into at an airport (I can see hilarious antics of riding the luggage carousel and going though the luggage x-ray machine.
    And is his Little Traveler's Guide to Airports an actual book he's made and will carry along through the story? Or will the advice he gives and the events that unfold in the story BE the Little Travelers' Guide to Airports. I was just a bit confused and wouldn't want an editor or agent to be confused either causing them to pass on it because, once again, I think this is a wonderful idea for a story!
    Maybe it's just me that sees these things this way (that's why WYRI? is so great, you can get so many different opinions!) Good Luck!

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  3. I am still excited from meeting you, Susanna! It's hard to be even more fabulous in person than on this blog, but you were. :)
    I love the title of Michelle's manuscript and my interest is piqued by the pitch but I worry that an editor doesn't have enough to know whether she'll like it or not. What specifically about the little sister is worrisome? Is she scared of things? Is she too adventurous? Is this book about Salim being a worrier about things that probably would never happen (like the book Sophie's Fish)?? Hope these quick thoughts help. Good luck!

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  4. Alayne Kay ChristianJuly 2, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    I would read this story. The title alone makes me want to know more. I feel like the pitch could use something that gives a feel for the story. Are there a few things that could be pulled right from the text? What would give the reader of the pitch a taste of the story? The following questions are not to suggest that you put all this in your pitch. They are questions that popped into my head that I thought might help you find the jewels of information to put in the pitch that might entice an editor or agent. Why is Salim is worried that Malika will cause his family to miss the flight? Has this happened before? What does Malika do? How will his travelers' guide keep Malika out of trouble and get them to their flight on time? What does Salim do?

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  5. It was sooooo hard to choose a pitch! They were all so good. And you didn't even give us chocolate for strength, Susanna! :D

    I think the pitch today is adorable and I would read it. Michelle's pitch is very nice and there's not a whole lot I can add to the other commenters' excellent suggestions. The only thing that I thought could be improved was to expand upon the "he knows how much trouble she can be" line (which is similar to what the others suggested). Best of luck, Michelle!

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  6. I like the idea. The only thing I would change is the alliteration so that you don't have a character called "Serious Salim" .Perhaps Thoughtful Salim, or No-nonsense Salim or Young artist Salim . I'm thinking just starting with Salim or perhaps another adjective or noun that describes his character as a writer or illustrator of his own little book within a book (which was my take-away from the pitch) I think the character's serious outlook on life concept would be made totally clear visually on a book cover.

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  7. I would ABSOLUTELY read this one - but I do have a suggestion (or two!) to make the pitch even better. I was a bit unclear on whether the PB is this traveler's guide, or if it is a resource he uses - maybe having the "guide title" in the book title is what did it for me (confused me, that is - though it doesn't take much!). And I might give a bit more info - what kind of trouble? Does he create the book during the PB action, or is it something he has? Just a bit more clarity on what the focus of this story is would be helpful I think.

    And those muffins look LOVELY, Susanna! I can always count on you for my Wednesday morning treat. :) Glad you are home safe from your trip - and that you got to meet in person some "Cyberfolks." Have a great week!

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  8. I love the title - and the image of "escalators don't bite". But the pitch doesn't get me there.... maybe work more in about escalators? And why is his sister worried about escalators? is it how they look or the noise they make or the fact that they disappear into underground caves? I can see so many cool ways such a story would go.

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  9. Kim PfennigwerthJuly 2, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    Hi Susanna - it was so great to meet you! And thank you for the tasty muffins. I like the title and I would definitely read the story. However the name Serious Salim gave me pause and I agree with Alayne that the pitch needs something to bring it a bit more alive and the use of the text and problems from the story is a great way to spice it up.

    Maybe something like: Salim is serious. He plans everything out. He can't wait to fly to his grandparents but he is afraid his little sister Malika will make them late. She always makes them late. Toddling the wrong way, throwing tantrums, sending items tumbling off store shelves—what trouble could she cause here? So Salim's plans include His Little Travelers' Guide to Airports it's just the ticket to make sure everyone gets to the gate on time!

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  10. Where to start!...
    The Pitch! :D I don't want to reiterate what's already been suggested in the comments 'cause I found myself agreeing and can't really add anything. The only thing I'll emphasize is that I personally don't think Salim needs a descriptive "handle" like "Serious" or anything else. I kinda like just plain "Salim" :) Also, I think leaving the title just as "Escalators Don't Bite!" (brilliant, btw!) without stating the traveler's guide, might be more catchy? Good luck with this, Michelle!
    Susanna, it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway---it was SUCH a pleasure meeting you (and Mike) at the conference! Of course, I was pretty brainless, so that didn't help, and we never had the opportunity to have the relaxed-type chat I was hoping for, but that's what happens in the whirlwind of the weekend! And isn't Lauri great? SO glad I'm getting to know her :D I, too, got an unexpected, VERY thoughtful gift---a chocolate squirrel! :D Bit right into that thing! lol
    Thank you for the delectable muffins and for all you do! So glad you got home safely. You do SO much driving! :D

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  11. Oh, and speaking of chocolate---HERE? Chocolate is mentioned HERE?! ;)...did you see this?...

    http :// www .jumpintoabook. com/2014/07/chocoalate-challenge-stops-jump-book/

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  12. Mike Allegra writerJuly 2, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    It was wonderful to meet you at last, Susanna. And I am terribly sorry that the SCBWI dessert table so quickly ran out of chocolate cake. (Seriously, who eats pineapple cake at a convention?)

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  13. So jealous of the other conference goers - I wanna meet you too! Can't wait to see the little chocolate sheep - do post a photo. I had the toughest pitch pick to make this time - they are all REALLY good!!! Any one will do - but I had to choose, didn't I?
    As for Michelle's pitch, I want to know a tad more; it seems odd that a child is worried about his sibling's behavior, as opposed to her anxiety, at an airport. Is he the one who is anxious, is that the conflict? Why? I like the last sentence, but does it give away too much? Otherwise I am very interested in Salim's interest in his sister - so sweet! I would want to read this. Good luck, Michelle.

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  14. Those muffins are perfect with a cup of tea, Susanna. Good luck with the sheep molding -- we'll want to see photos, of course. :)
    As for Michelle's pitch, I think the story has great potential for conflict between Salim and Malika, and the push to make it to the plane will give forward motion through the book. But I'm afraid the title threw me a bit. "Escalators don't bite" is fun and kid-friendly, but then "A Little Traveler's Guide to Airports" seems too adult and instructional.

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  15. Michelle, I love the story, the title, the character names, and the pitch makes me want to read more, but I think you can make it even more irresistible. There are some great suggestions in the comments. I think the "ticket" is to be more specific about Salim's worries. The editor wants to fall in love with the characters as well as the concept. Right now, all we know is Salim is a great big brother, and his sister is small enough to get into trouble. I can't wait to see where this story lands. I'll be first in line to buy a copy. Well done!

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  16. Thank you for your detailed feedback. This will help me strike the balance between revealing just enough and too much. The sibling relationship is at the heart of the story, and you're right, Salim is the worried one.

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  17. Thank you for that feedback, Patricia. I am still struggling with multiple voices in the text; it's good to know that it shows even in the pitch.

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  18. Thank you, Donna. Escalators Don't Bite is the new title, and I think I'm just having trouble letting go of the old one, so I kept it as a subtitle. Thanks for the push in the right direction!

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  19. Wow, Kim, thanks for the specific suggestions! You've got my fingers itching to write...

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  20. This pitch practice is an amazing exercise. The responses help me spiral deeper into my story to really understand my characters, conflict and story arc. Thank you for your excellent questions, Sue.

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  21. With just a quick scan (late in the day), I can see a couple of commenters have touched on my concern. I like the concept, and would read it. My question is - Is this a story book? Or a travel guide? Or a travel guide within a story book? (I'm hoping it's the 3rd one.) I visualize lots of parents reading this before a trip, and during those boring airport waits. Good luck with it.

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  22. Hi Joanne, Based on the feedback I've gotten so far, I think I definitely need to cut the "travel guide" piece from the title. And I've heard from others as well about giving more specific "trouble" details in my pitch. Thanks for chiming in--it's really valuable to hear the same thing from more than one reader, because then I get a clear sense of what I need to fix.

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  23. So glad I could help - it really DOES sound like a fun little read!

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  24. I agree with a lot of the other comments so I won't bore you to death with re-reading what was already posted. I really like just keeping the title as, Escalators don't bite! I really think it's catchy and it sounds so fun. I would also just keep Salim's name as Salim and leave out Serious. I don't think it's needed. I also like the storybook/ travel guide idea. I get asked a lot for travel books for kids in my library and this really sounds like something that I could give my kids to read before leaving.


    Susanna....thanks for making my mouth water. Mmmm..... Wish you could join us at the NorthEast SCBWI conference here in Ohio in September. It would be so awesome to meet you.

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  25. Thank you so much Kimberly for sharing your questions and stumbles. I appreciate your feedback about the names. It's a tricky point. The family featured in this story is multi-racial, but because the story is not explicitly about race, the names are one of the key windows to that identity. As the daughter of a Pakistani immigrant, it is especially important to me that the characters offer the illustrator opportunities to tell a universal story using cultural references that are often misunderstood or marginalized. Especially in a story about airport safety! "Salim" actually means "safe" in Arabic.


    But I get the issue about pronunciation. I've even had one reader disregard the male pronouns and view Salim as a girl! I've considered including front matter along these lines: "Meet the Little Travelers…" with a pronunciation guide included. Salim could include this like flap copy on his book. So many ideas!


    Thanks for your feedback on the ? about the Traveler's Guide. I play with the fourth wall in the ms, but I haven't worked it all out yet, and I think that shows in the pitch as well.

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  26. Hi Vivian, Yes, I've had this up on 12 x 12. Thank you for the encouragement!

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  27. Alayne Kay ChristianJuly 2, 2014 at 5:04 PM

    Thanks for the plug, Michelle. And best of luck with this story.

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  28. Sometimes I wonder if I look at these pitches a bit TOO closely. Forgetting the fact that when and editor/agent reads it they'll have the rest of your query to get a bit more info from and readers will have cover illustrations to go off of too. So sorry if I read into it too much (my brain works in silly ways sometimes!).

    That's so awesome that his name means safe. I can just see him saying, "Safe is my middle name. Wait, actually, it's my first name!" :)

    I also forget that not everyone is at the same point with their ms when they create a pitch. Some have been working on one for years and are ready to submit whereas others my be throwing an idea out there to see if they should put the effort into writing a ms, and everywhere in between! So whatever point you are at I wish you the best, as I said before, this is a fantastic idea!

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  29. Well, whatever you do, I think it is a great idea and judging from the feedback you are getting others do too! Good Job!

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  30. Oh, I wish I were in Jersey! You went, Susanna--and so many people I know online went too! Hope you had a blast, enjoyed dessert, and sang karoake.
    The story has a clever concept, Micelle--an airport angle. I agree with much of the advice given: if it's a fiction PB, about Salim, I'd love to know more about him and his sis.
    And congrats to all the writers who submitted pitches. I saw some FABULOUS re-writes, and seriously good pitches.

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  31. This sounds like a very cute story and one that would be really useful. Yes, I would definitely read it.

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  32. I totally get that, Michelle, but what I was thinking, too, is that excluding the "traveler's guide" info will allow for more curiosity, especially for a picture book. I think more people would pull it off a bookstore shelf without it, then find out about the "traveler's guide" part on the jacket flap or in the story itself. That includes for the pitch. It's just a better hook, I think :)

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  33. Hey, Kim :D Love your take on the pitch!

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  34. Kim PfennigwerthJuly 2, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    Thanks Donna!

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  35. Kim PfennigwerthJuly 2, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    You're welcome Michelle! I love the idea of a sibling being a 'planner' to keep everyone on track!

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  36. I have kids, but they're 16 and 18. :)

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  37. I like the idea of a traveler's guide. It could be one of tose interactive books where the kids can lift flaps, etc. Just an idea!

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  38. Thanks for the idea, Lucy! My husband thought it could be a board book with a pocket for a "passport" and a carabiner to attach it to little travelers' backpacks.

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  39. Thank you for reading, Rosi.

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  40. Thank you, Stacy.

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  41. Thank you for the encouragement, Brandie.

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  42. Definitely a travel book within a story. But I need to make those lines more clear in the ms and in the pitch. Working on it...

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  43. Working on specifics now…I love how paying close attention to the pitch circles back into more clarity and energy in the ms itself. Thanks for reading!

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  44. I think you--and many others--are right about "Escalators Don't Bite" being a better hook on its own. Thank you for weighing in!

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  45. You may remember well what it feels like to stand at the top of an escalator with five suitcases, a toddler and a baby…or maybe you were smart enough to take the elevator!

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  46. Kimberly, I appreciate the close look! Your feedback is incredibly valuable and I will definitely take it into consideration. I need to find a way to connect the story I want to tell to readers, and that means resolving anything that causes them to stumble. I thank you for helping me clarify my vision for this book, so that I may better express it.

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  47. Yes, I'd read it. Very cute premise and a good book for little travelers! The only thing I suggest is deleting the word "serious" in front of Salim.

    Glad u got to meet so many online friends, Susanna! Sounds like fun!

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  48. So glad you had a great time at NJSCBWI!
    I love Michelle's pitch. I think it's a perfect title and the pitch is well written and concise. I even like the word "serious"- not just for the alliteration but because it gives us a sense of Salim's personality. I can just picture this safety-minded,maybe a bit controlling but caring older brother researching and compiling his list.

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  49. Thank you for commenting! I sing your Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to my kids all the time--I'm a little "starstruck" (okay, pun intended). I'm so glad to hear that Salim's character is coming through to you in the pitch.

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  50. Thanks for reading!

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  51. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikJuly 5, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    Yay! You're back! Now you're gone! ;) Have fun in PA! :D
    I'd read the book. It sounds great!
    Erik
    P.S. I voted! :D

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