October 22, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday #150 - Zoo Rules (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor

There is never a dull moment around here.

First, I got a flat tire.  (It's possible this had something to do with the wood full of nails and screws that someone left directly in front of the garage... that I drove over as I hurried out to pick up my daughter from school and wondered, "Hmm... what was that?" Really, your guess is as good as mine... :))

Then the bear came and had a picnic out of our trash cans.  (If you haven't had much experience with bear picnics, I can tell you they are not at all tidy.  There is much clean-up involved...)

Then on Monday the house that's going in down the road from us had its foundation poured, so a parade of cement trucks thundered up and down the road all day.  Scout felt it her duty to bark at the passage of each one.  Both ways.  Jemma hid under the piano.  It was traumatic for everyone.

And now we are expecting rain in these parts so if anyone needs me I will be in my basement in the canoe.

I know!

Harrowing tales of this nature just don't come along every day!

I'm dreadfully sorry if my horror stories have left you in a weakened state, but never fear!  I have snacks!

Continuing with our get-ready-for-Halloween-theme, today's Something Chocolate is just the thing for when you want something sweet, salty, and candy-corny all at once.  (Because really, isn't that a combination you often find yourself wanting?  I know I frequently find myself thinking, "Hmm... I'm in the mood for something sweet, salty and candy-corny... what to have?"  Okay.  I admit it.  I have never thought that.  But there's always a first time :))  And they are pretty :)

Candy Corn Pretzel Hugs :)  Recipe HERE!
I think they might be easy enough for even me to make, so go ahead!  Give them a try!

Now that we have averted any danger of fainting, we have Straight From The Editor for September, which you will recall was won by Hope with her pitch for Cleo And Pinkie:

Whether it is marker stains on the carpet or mud trails in the hall, Cleo blames her mischievous, imaginary friend, Pinkie, for everything. “Pinkie did it!” Soon Mommy can’t take it anymore and declares, “No more Pinkie!” But without Pinkie, the house is too quiet until Cleo makes another mess, this time, to everyone’s delight.

Here's what editor Erin Molta had to say:

This sounds really cute. I made a small tweak because I think if you put the Pinkie did it in the beginning it’s more of a hook. The only thing that didn’t quite work for me was the very ambiguous ending—Cleo made a mess to everyone’s delight? You don’t want to make readers guess, you want to intrigue them, yet this is just confusing. It would be better to be more specific so they can get the joke. Then they would appreciate it more.

“Pinkie did it!” Whether it is marker stains on the carpet or mud trails in the hall, Cleo blames her mischievous, imaginary friend for everything. Soon Mommy can’t take it anymore and declares, “No more Pinkie!” But without Pinkie, the house is too quiet until Cleo makes another mess, this time, to everyone’s delight.

It's amazing what a difference a small change can make, isn't it?  As always, I find Erin's comments so helpful!

Let's move onto Would You Read It, shall we?  (Please, have another pretzel hug if you're feeling peckish!)

Today's pitch comes to us from Michelle, who you will remember from her July pitch for Escalators Don't Bite (WYRI #140).  She is a mom, a teacher, and a writer.  She blogs at http://amomnextdoor.wordpress.com/about/

Here is her pitch: (and she did mention that she's still looking for a title that really zings, so feel free to chime in if you've got any brilliant ideas!)

Working Title: Zoo Rules
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Miss Knaffle's second graders have a thing or two to learn about their teacher. They think they can get away with feeding coffee beans to the class hamster, or making farting houses during read aloud. Will a trip to the zoo set them straight? When the canny Miss Knaffle enlists zoo animals to her cause, readers will delight in seeing what happens to children who don't follow the zoo rules in this PB cross between Peggy Rathmann's GOODNIGHT, GORILLA, and William Bee's WHATEVER.

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 December 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 (yes, I warned you last week I would probably say this again!) the Halloweensie Contest!  At least 4 people have mentioned here and/or on FB that they have written stories and I can't wait to read them!  I also can't wait until I think up my sample story, because time is running out and I'm getting just a teensy bit anxious about the fact that I haven't even started thinking about it.  Which is shocking, because usually I'm prepared months in advance.  Oh wait.  That's not me.  Okay.  Everything is right on schedule :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! :)


Reactions:

51 comments:

  1. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikOctober 22, 2014 at 7:32 AM

    I would read the book! I like that the teacher gets the zoo animals to help. :) There is a typo - "farting houses" I think is farting noises (although farting houses is hysterical hee hee).
    I always love to read what Ms. Molta says about pitches! I learn a lot!
    I hope your day gets better Ms. Hill! :D

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  2. Erin's tweak made such a big difference in heightening the hook and making the pitch stronger. Love good advice.


    I would read the WYRI story. Erik already mentioned the "houses" "noises" item so that would clear that up. Also, the first two sentences could be tightened, maybe with something like, "Ms. Knaffle's second grade class think they can get away with anything, like feeding coffee beans to the hamster or conducting a farting symphony during reading time." Maybe not that exactly, but something that tightens it.

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  3. Flat tires, cement trucks and bears- oh my!
    Love Erin's suggestion which much improved the pitch.
    Today's pitch sounds like a fun story. I would tighten it up as per Angela's suggestion, and I would leave out the comparison to Good Night Gorilla and Whatever and just end it at ...zoo rules. I think the title is great, btw- clear, succinct and with nice assonance.

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  4. Zoo animals and mischief--sounds fun!! :) I'd definitely read.
    Susanna, I always forget about candy corn, until I eat one and then I remember they are like portable bites of cake frosting! :)
    Happy Wednesday! I hope you don't have to break out the canoe.

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  5. Oh, my, who knew the HIll household had so much fun!! Keep the laptop in the canoe at all times.


    I would read this and the title is great, but I feel it could be a little tighter/briefer. I think the first and second sentences could be combined and reduced as one.

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  6. It sounds like a pick-on-Susanna week! Ack. You tell 'em I said they have to stop (because I have so much clout...LOL!).

    I'm not a fan of candy corn, but those snacks look so cute, I'd try one for sure.

    And, yes! I would read Zoo Rules! I think it's a cute title, actually, though, it doesn't quite cover the breadth of the issue (maybe add something to it, like, "School Rules, Zoo Rules"). I think the pitch is pretty darned terrific, actually! The only thing that had me scratching my head is "farting houses"...is that supposed to be "farting noises"? Great idea to give comps in the pitch (for me anyway....not sure what Erin will say).

    Speaking of Erin, that was another terrific analysis by her!

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  7. Susanna - make sure your canoe has the required quota of chocolate before you climb in. Otherwise you have to climb all those stairs back to the kitchen..... As for Zoo rules, I'd read it. But as others point out - I think Michelle can ditch comparing it to other titles. I also want to know if they feed black beans to the hamster to make it fart?

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  8. yay! You're right on track. Sorry about the flat tire tire ~ that can be very deflating. When you head down to the canoe, bring chocolate pretzel candy corn thingies.


    Oh, yeah, see you on the 27th! Happy Halloweensie!

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  9. I am ready w/my Halloweensie! Today, though, let's talk about chocolate and pitches. I just don't like questions in pitches...it's just me. I think it could be a really funny story, so, yes, I would read it. I'd say "perhaps a trip to the zoo will set them straight." Can you add a third thing the second graders do to make a set of 3's and take out the word "or"?

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  10. This sounds like a really fun book. I think that the first two sentences could be combined.And I would try to get rid of the question in the pitch. I've heard most agents/editors don't really like that. However...I keep reading Knaffle as Knuffle. I guess i have been reading too many Mo Willems books here at the library lately. Good luck! :)


    And...I just had something similar to that chocolate treat yesterday. It was delish!!!!


    And Susanna, you are just having a string of bad luck here lately. Hope the dark cloud subsides soon.

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  11. Maybe. Unfortunately the pitch has a hint of padagogy in it, which is something I'm allergic too (even though I do slip myself in my own writing - luckily I have a teen willing to bop me on the head for it!). This may sound terribly unfair, but it's what keeps me from saying 'yes'.

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  12. Susanna...your posts are a joy to read...you had me laughing so hard, my hubby came to see if I was okay. :) I'm loving the pretzel hugs...perfect for Halloween.

    Michelle, I would definitely read your story...and I'll bet kids would love it, too. I'm wondering who is the main character...is it Miss Knaffle or is it the class as a whole? :) I think the pitch could be tightened a bit. In my pitches, I've never put comps to other books...that would usually go in the next paragraph of the cover letter...I'm curious as to what the others here do.
    Here's a thought:
    Miss
    Knaffle's second graders think they can get away with feeding coffee beans to the
    class hamster, or making farting noises during read aloud. Miss Knaffle enlists the help of the animals on a class trip to the zoo, and when Sammy has a time-out in the monkey house and Suzie has her snack with the snakes, the children begin to see what happens when you don't follow the rules.

    Of course, I made up these scenarios, but you could just insert two or three of the incidents that really happens. Hope this is helpful. :)

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  13. Susanna, I do believe you've touched on pretty much all the disaster "genres" in just one post! lol Just be sure there's no hole in the canoe :) And we've had our share of raccoon parties, though it's been years. Our lids are more secure, too :)

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  14. Susanna, you should see the size of branch (12-14" diameter) the black bear broke in my yard last week! He did kindly miss dropping it on the sprinkler. Hope they hibernate soon!

    Michelle, not to beat a dead horse - " farting noises." Although "farting houses" is funny on it's own. Really ambitious boys...

    I would read it. Mrs Knaffle feels a bit like a Mary Poppins crossed with Ms. Frizzle. OOhh, what delightful mischief she will make! Title idea - "Zooish Behavior"?


    I like Vivian's suggestion to add - "When the canny Miss Knaffle enlists zoo animals to her cause, readers will delight in seeing what happens
    {when "children pound on the glass" and "x" },
    in this PB cross between Peggy Rathmann's GOODNIGHT, GORILLA, and William Bee's WHATEVER."

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  15. Hi, Michelle! I would definitely read this. I'm intrigued by what Miss Knaffle has up her sleeve and what exactly the kids are in for when they go to the zoo.I do like Vivian's suggestion to add a few specifics of what happens at the zoo. I like your comparison sentence. I've never done that, but I hear it's the thing to do. So good job!

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  16. Wouldn't it be great if our typos turned out funny and made sense, too? Instead of just confusing our readers…thank you for the feedback!

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  17. I'll work on those first two sentences. Thank you, Angela.

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  18. Someone suggested "The Zoo Rules," which could have a double meaning. I may go with that.

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  19. Thanks for your input, Coleen. I appreciate it.

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  20. Thank you, Joanna. Will tighten.

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  21. Based on other feedback, I'll probably take out the comps. Thanks for your input, Teresa!

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  22. Thank you for the feedback. Sorry about the farting houses. I hope somebody now writes a picture book about farting houses, farting horses and all kinds of other surprisingly gassy things.

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  23. Thank you, Sue. Somebody else worried about what happened to the hamster at the end of the story, but I hope the illustrator gives Hammie a friendly cage-mate.

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  24. Good idea about the magic of threes. It's in the ms, so I'll just include in the pitch as well. Thanks, Kathy.

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  25. I know, someone else had a Knaffle-Knuffle tongue-kerfuffle as well. I like the way the "s" in Miss combines with her name to make the word "snaffle" (to fool)…any other ideas for a name that does something funny or clever with the starting sound of "s"? I had a second grade teacher named Miss Knott, but Miss Knaffle is supposed to be a sympathetic character, so that won't do.

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  26. Yep, ten years a teacher. Hard to get that out of the system. I will take a close look at the pitch and a closer look at the ms. It's tricky making a teacher the mc.

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  27. Hi Vivian! Thanks for your feedback. I like the idea of including more specifics.

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  28. Hi McM! Thanks for your input. Yep, I think I'll just fart houses from now on. Fastest way to clear my studio when the kids come knocking. Thanks for the 12 x 12 heads up, by the way. I didn't even have a minute to post over there today.

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  29. Thanks, Debbie. Most people are saying leave comps for the query, not the pitch. I wonder what editors and agents think about that? It came out of the pitch I wrote for #PitMad. I appreciate your input!

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  30. Oops, I checked in this morning, but somehow forgot to leave my comments. so sorry. I love the pitch and the concept, Michelle. You've gotten solid advice, though no one mentioned deleting "Will a trip to the zoo set them straight?" (so I will) Logically speaking, I would not expect a trip to set these kids straight. I'd expect trouble to ensue. I get what you're thinking, but personally, I'd delete that question altogether. Your idea is very compelling, and the addition of specifics about the solution in the pitch will replace the need for your question about adjusting their behavior. All in all, I think this is going to turn some editor's head. 'Can't wait!

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  31. Michelle, I'm so sorry about that typo! I should have noticed it and checked with you, and I just copied and pasted your pitch and didn't even see it!

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  32. My day is fine, thank you Erik - I wasn't complaining :) Thanks for your comments for Ms. Hackel :)

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  33. Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Michelle, Joanne, and for taking the time to come back twice to make sure she got them :)

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  34. Thanks so much for your thoughts for Michelle, Debbie!

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  35. A bear fell out of a tree onto my neighbor's porch this spring, Maria - broke the tree and the porch :) Thanks so much for your helpful suggestions for Michelle :)

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  36. I was simply marveling at how there's never a dull moment :) And yeah, we're pretty careful with the lids, but someone was a slacker somewhere this time! :)

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  37. I'm glad you were laughing, Vivian - I'm afraid some other people thought I was complaining and I really wasn't :) Thanks so much for all your helpful suggestions for Michelle! :)

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  38. Thanks for your reaction, Julie - it's very helpful! We've got to call 'em as we see 'em (nicely of course, as you did) because it's important to know how your words are landing on others!

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  39. Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Michelle, Brandie! And no worries - I don't think of it as a dark cloud, just keeping life interesting :)

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  40. I am always happy to talk about chocolate, Kathy :) Thanks so much for your comments for Michelle. And I'm impressed that your Halloweensie is ready to go. Mine is not.! :)

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  41. Yes, Nancy, I will be sure to provision the canoe :) Can't wait to see you Monday!!! :)

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  42. Thanks so much for your comments for Michelle, Sue! And yes, you are right! The canoe must certainly be provisioned from the outset to prevent any extra stair climbing. That might burn off the calories from the chocolate pretzel candy corn thingies :)

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  43. Thanks so much for your comments for Michelle, Robyn! And I'm sorry to hear about your compost-eating-criminal-critter! Naughty naughty naughty! Maybe if you sprinkle coffee grounds on everything he'll leave it all alone :) Can't believe you're at the tweaking stage. I shall be alone in my last minute frantic compositioning!

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  44. Thanks so much for your comments for Michelle, Teresa! And I appreciate you exercising your clout on my behalf, but I really wasn't complaining. All's well that ends well :) I like candy corn... but not as much as chocolate :)

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  45. Yes. Yes, I shall keep the laptop in the canoe! Along with plenty of chocolate provisions :) Thanks so much for your comments for Michelle, Joanna!

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  46. That is EXACTLY what they're like, Coleen! I never thought of that, but you are right! :) Thanks for chiming in for Michelle!

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  47. I know! I didn't even mention Sheep & Wool! :) Thanks so much for your expert opinion for Michelle, Iza :)

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  48. Thank you so much for your helpful suggestions for Michelle, Angela! :)

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  49. lol, well, lids are a decent deterent for raccoons, but you had A BEAR! :D

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  50. Not your job! You had tires and bears and cement trucks to deal with. Serves me right. Every time I submit for anything, it teaches me how much MORE careful I've got to be.

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  51. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikOctober 26, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    That would be awesome if it worked out like that! I still am laughing over the thought of farting houses, maybe you could work that into a book! ;)

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