November 5, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday #151 - Just Like Us (PB)

Due to all the flurry and excitement and extensive reading involved in the Halloweensie Contest, I'm going to take pity on you today and present nothing but Something Chocolate and Would You Read It.

No amusing anecdotes from my childhood.

No tales of adventure from the wilds of Blueberry Hill.

No witty musings on life.

(Well, okay, I don't really ever have those :))

Just one thing before you get your snack:  if you haven't had a chance to vote yet for your favorite Halloweensie Contest finalist, you have until 5 PM and we really need all the votes we can get.  The top contenders keep being tied.  So please go HERE (and encourage your neighbors and your grandmother and your mailman to stop over, read the entries and pick their favorite too!)

Wasn't that so quick?  And now your reward....

Something Chocolate!

Hold onto your dental work...

Recipe HERE http://damndelicious.net/2013/12/11/easy-homemade-toffee/
I LOVE toffee!  Truly, I think it is one of the best inventions ever.  Help yourselves!  Tell me if you agree! :)

Now then, today's pitch comes to us from Maria who says, "I am a pre-published author and roommate of two loving, adorable Pixiebob cats. Recently granted a chance to decide "what I wanted to be when I grew up," I began actively pursuing my my love of writing (a path on hold for the past ten years, while I raised my kids).  I renewed my SCBWI membership, joined Julie Hedlund's 12x12 forum, and Kid Lit Summer School, took numerous writing courses, found awesome critique groups, and attendeded conferences."


Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Just Like Us
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 2-6)
The Pitch: As children frolic through and around a park playground, glimpses of two bear cubs mimicking their fun can be seen, partially obscured on each page. Both the bears and children roll down a hill, play on the equipment, and dig for treasure. But in the end, who is watching whom. 

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 Maria 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 January, right after the holidays, 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!

Maria is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to announcing the Halloweensie Contest winners TOMORROW!!!  I know!  The excitement!  The anticipation!  Who will it be?????

Tune in and find out! :)

Have a wonderful and toffee-filled Wednesday, everyone!

Reactions:

83 comments:

  1. I think this is a sweet idea. My only suggestion is to expand this and have each learn something from each other. (This could be the intent, but just not shown in the pitch.)

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  2. As soon as I comment, I promise to go and vote...I've been putting it off because I love so many of them. ;) Thanks for the yummy treat, Susanna...my dentist thanks you. :)

    I would definitely read your story, Maria! I love the idea of the double story layer...the activities of the children and the mirror activities of the bear cubs...it gives me the feeling of 'Blueberries for Sal', which is a classic. :) Your pitch doesn't give us a hint any conflict or problem or how it is resolved...how about:


    While Johnny and Mary climb trees, roll down hills and dig for buried treasure in the park playground sandbox, Little Bear and Maggie Bear mimic their behavior out of sight. When kids and cubs collide on the slide (or whatever problem occurs), Johnny and Mary (or Little Bear and Maggie Bear) must (whatever they need to do), ultimately realizing that (whatever the takeaway of the story is).


    Hope this helps, Maria. ;)

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  3. I agree that the image of kids and bear cubs mirroring each other is charming (my little ones have been watching the Disney Bears documentary over and over the past week - so I'm pretty certain kids love bears doing cute stuff.) What I don't see in this pitch is #1 a conflict #2 a striking voice. I want to know before reading how it's going to charm me with words and action AS WELL as images.


    And Susanna - toffee is my favorite! Thanks!

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  4. It's a quiet story, parents love those too and some kids may identify with the bears, some with the children. I'd like to see something added to show their personalities. Nit all stories have obvious conflict or a problem to slive perse, but differences still need some type of resolution. Hope that makes sense!

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  5. Yes, I would read it. Kids and cubs are both adorable. This story has great illustration potential and what child doesn't love looking at the pictures. It would be great fun for them as they try to figure out who is watching whom.

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  6. I would read it - it sort of reminds me of Blueberries for Sal, but different.

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  7. I think the illustration possibilities are great, but I don't see a story, more of an linear observation. I could see it as a sweet board book with just the bears. If ther is an arc, it needs to be in the pitch.

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  8. Maria- My recommendation is to make sure the voice of the picture book comes through in the pitch. It's not completely clear yet if it's going to be slapstick funny or really sweet yet. You do use great visuals!

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  9. This is a fun idea and the illustrations would be so MUCH fun. I do think that you could add more excitement if you had more of a story arc and maybe some tension where the kids or bears are afraid of each other?

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  10. Oh Susanna, toffee -- couldn't get better. Well maybe, but I'm just saying, toffee is a real good start!
    I have a bit of advantage here with Maria's post as she is one of my critique group members. Knowing the whole, it was interesting to read the individual comments. I'm hoping we will get to discuss the feedback in our group.

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  11. Mmmm....toffee...too bad my old teeth can't handle anything hard anymore. Drat aging. :}

    I think Maria's story is adorable and the pitch is well written, and I would certainly read it! That said, I echo Kirsti Call's sentiment about adding a bit more something to the story. Right now, there's no real conflict except for the line at the end about who's watching whom. And quiet stories are totally fine too, but if Maria's going that route, perhaps something needs to be said in the pitch about that. I wonder how Deborah Underwood wrote her pitch for her Quiet Book? I wish Maria the best of luck with this sweet story!

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  12. Toffee and chocolate - awesome combination, Susanna! Maria, first I love the title of the book and I like the concept of bears and kids and the echoing of activities. I agree w/Teresa, there is no conflict and no character arc. Could the bears notice the kids acting like them and change? Could the kids notice the bears acting like them and then they act like bears? Can both find that they are better off being what they are? (theme) Do you know how when someone mimics you , at first it's fun and then it gets annoying? Maybe that's a conflict you could play up. I might read it, but feel the story needs some more thought.

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  13. Sometimes a parallel story is just a parallel story. I love this idea, and I think its conflict is simply spotting the bears and kids mirroring the activities of each other. Age range starting at age 2 sounds about right. I'd definitely read it. Good luck, Maria!

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  14. Hi Maria. Yes, I'd read your story, based on the pitch. But gosh, it's hard to get a clear sense of what unique things might be happening in the story. It seems that so much would be left to the illustrator. Are there any unique or clever details or surprises that could be revealed in the pitch? Another thing I don't yet know is the tone. Is there any humor in the story, for instance? I'm guessing that it's a quiet, reflective mood piece--but I'm not sure. For some reason, I get the sense that it's almost wordless. Is there any main character? Sounds like it's a situational story, without a primary character. I'm just giving you my impressions and my questions. You can see how they match up to what your story truly is, and whether I understood the nature of the piece well enough from reading the pitch. Good luck!

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  15. I might read this one, but I guess I don't really see a conflict here to drive a story. I would like that to be made more clear. Good luck with this. Thanks, Susanna, for the toffee recipe!

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  16. As always, Vivian, you are so full of good suggestions. thank you for taking the time to read this.

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  17. More work to do! Revise, revise. Thank you.

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  18. It does. You "got it." Having examined over 60 PB this past month, through a class I took, I found a number of PB that did not have a conflict or "teaching" moment, but that were delightful in their fun, simplicity, or twist. "Tea with Grandpa" by Saltberg is an example.
    You make a great point though and combined with Vivian & Katey;s comments, I have an idea for making this even better. Thank you.

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  19. No worries. I have an injured thumb, so I am constantly having typos as of late. Thanks for your suggestion.

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  20. Good point. Now to implement such an easy statement. So easy to say and see when it is done well, AND sometimes so hard to create. But definitely something to aspire to.

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  21. Hmm. Good food for thought. Thanks for looking at it for me.

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  22. Go start the thread Teresa! i'll be over there later...

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  23. Oh, wouldn't it be awesome to be able to read the pitches for books like the Quiet Book, Owen, Knuffle Bunny, A Book without Pictures...What a treasure that would be and/or what a great course on it's own. Thanks Teresa.

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  24. Very interesting suggestions and ways to take the story that I had not previously though of. Thank you.

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  25. Thank you! Now just to find the right editor with an awesome illustrator!

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  26. Very good questions. I guess the trick in going for a concise pitch is to also manage to infuse the soul of the piece in the pitch. I am learning so much from you all - thanks everyone.

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  27. Thank you Sheri for that interesting suggestion.

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  28. Susanna, your evil. i could have resisted more cupcakes, but you have to offer toffee! My grandparents always made homemade toffee, in copper pots. This reminds me of them. Thank you for a wonderful nostalgia morning!

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  29. Yeah, happy to help. I love Phillip Snead's books for the very reason you mentioned.

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  30. :-) I'll go look at his more closely. Thanks

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  31. Maria, yes! I would read this. I think the idea is adorable. I would just maybe tweak your pitch slightly to get right to the action of what specifically they are doing. Maybe something like..."As children play at the playground, climbing trees, rolling down hillls, and digging for buried treasure, two partially obscured bear cubs mimic their every move." And then I love your last line..."But in the end, who is watching whom?" Nice! Good job!

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  32. And Susanna! I LOVE toffee. I may just have to try that recipe.

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  33. Debbie, that is a fun fix. Thank you. I will definitely be playing with it.

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  34. Yes, I would read it..I love the last line in the pitch that hints at a fun twist. Maybe they are all watching and mimicking and eventually becoming friends? Can't wait to see this with illustrations...

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  35. :-) Hi Hope. Thanks for taking a peek.

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  36. Hi Maria! This sounds like a sweet story. I agree with Debbie's suggestions for tightening up the first two lines. I think I'd like more of a hint about the ending, besides who is watching who.

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  37. Hi Maria, yes I would read it. I like the concept of having the children and bear cubs doing parallel activities and the peeping through the foliage to catch a glimpse. I am not sure about the 'who is watching whom' line, it felt a little worrisome. Is the story about the two groups watching each other?

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  38. The pitch gives me the sense that the MS has a quiet, reflective sort of charm. Big Yes. Great advice for tightening the pitch in these comments. Wonderful Maria!

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  39. At the end the kids are outside, watching the bears playing in the park.

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  40. Thank for the input. Still to work on that, not quite right.

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  41. Thanks Barbara. Off to revise a bit more. :-)

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  42. Thanks Rossi for your input, I appreciate it. Still have work to do.

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  43. Lovin' the toffee AND I love the premise of this book! I'd just like to suggest it be rewritten with "show, don't tell" in mind :)

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  44. TOFFEE! Yum. Thanks.


    Maria, I can see toddlers enjoying a tale of revelry and mimicry. Maybe I'm wrong but I'm imagining a type of copycat type game. It might even be fun to get the audience/reader involved in these antics. If this is a book for the very young, I'm guessing your sentences will be shorter in length. I'm not getting that from the pitch, so you might want to make your sentence structure match the tone of your book. I also think your could possibly lead your pitch with more of a hook. Something like, "Who's that sliding over there? My oh my is that a bear?" Sorry I have rhyming on the brain tonight. This probably doesn't match your story at all. Just a suggestion. Good luck with this!

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  45. Thanks Hannah! The rhyme is cute.

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  46. What a great idea, Maria! Perhaps a blog post...

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  47. Maria, I wanted to leave a comment but my internet froze last night. Better late than never…I would definitely read this book, it's a cute premise and sounds perfect for the younger set. Other comments about using pitch to reveal the tone of the ms (funny, quiet, rhyming, etc.) rang true for me. Also, I suggest tightening the language and adding as much detail as possible. E.g. As children [names, gender, ages, personalities twins?] frolic in a park, glimpses of two bear cubs mimicking their fun can be seen [use active tense], partially obscured on each page. Both the bears and children roll [use more vibrant verbs] down a hill, play on the equipment [be specific], and dig for treasure [again, specific]. But in the end, who is watching whom. I've read that agents/editors hate questions in pitches and queries--can you reveal more of the story here instead? Do the cubs know the humans are there? Do the humans know the cubs are there? What about the mothers? Do they ever find out about each other? And if there is a conflict (besides the perfectly adequate tension of the reader knowing something the characters don't), can you tell us more about it?

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  48. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikNovember 6, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    I love the idea of this book (and the toffee! :D ). It is very unique! I like Ms. Holt's ideas. They will make the pitch match the fun in the book. Good luck!

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  49. It's like what Writer Unboxed does with their Flogging A Pro series :)

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  50. Thanks so much for chiming in for Ms. Marshall, Erik! And enjoy to the toffee :)

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  51. Thanks Erik! Glad you stopped by.

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  52. Michelle, I am glad your internet finally cooperated. Good to have your input. :-)

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  53. Thank you for your very thoughtful and helpful suggestions for Maria, Michelle!

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  54. Ah! Another toffee lover :) Thanks so much for your helpful thoughts for Michelle, Hannah!

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  55. Glad you like the toffee, Donna, and thanks so much for your thoughts for Maria!

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  56. Thanks so much for sharing your positive reaction, Barbara - I'm sure Maria was thrilled :)

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  57. Thanks for sharing your reactions with Maria, Cecilia! It's always so helpful to know how someone who hasn't read a story might see the pitch!

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  58. Thanks so much for your helpful suggestions for Maria, Andrea!

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  59. Thanks so much for your comments for Maria, Hope!

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  60. Thanks so much for your helpful suggestions for Maria, Debbie!

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  61. Oh, I'm so glad I gave you a nostalgia moment, Maria! By sharing yours, you made me think of my grandparents too - so nice :)

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  62. Thanks for your helpful comments for Maria, Rosi! And I'm glad you like the toffee recipe!!! :)

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  63. Thanks so much for sharing your impressions with Maria, Heather - very helpful!

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  64. Thanks for your positivity for Maria, Genevieve :)

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  65. Thanks so much for your very helpful suggestions for Maria, Kathy! And I'm glad you like the toffee :)

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  66. Gee whiz, Teresa! You're not 100! "Your old teeth" my foot! Have some toffee :) Thanks so much for your very helpful thoughts for Maria!

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  67. Oh, yay! Another toffee lover! :) And lucky you that you've actually read the story!

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  68. Thanks so much for your helpful thoughts for Maria, Kirsti!

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  69. Thanks for your helpful insights for Maria, Lauri!

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  70. Thanks so much for sharing your impressions with Maria, Julie!

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  71. Thanks so much for sharing your reactions with Maria, Carol!

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  72. Thanks for your comments for Maria, Keila! And I have to say, I love quiet books... and I think lots of kids do too... but they are hard to sell these days!

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  73. Thanks so much for your comments for Maria, Katey! And I've been dying to see that Bears documentary! So glad you enjoyed the toffee :)

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  74. Thanks so much for your very helpful suggestions for Maria, Vivian! And I think your dentist owes me a kickback :) Thanks for voting - I know you've done it by now because I'm so far behind responding to these comments :)

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  75. Thanks so much for your suggestion for Maria, Sheri! Very helpful!

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  76. My teeth are cracked, my fillings are needing re-doing, and I'm wearing a grind guard at night. My dentist will kill me if I eat toffee! :D

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  77. Nah! He'll be thrilled! You'll put his kids through college :)

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