January 14, 2015

Would You Read It Wednesday #157 - The Penguin And The Pelican (PB) PLUS The November Pitch Pick!

I'd like to begin today's post with a Public Service Announcement.

As you all (may or may not) know, January is National Bath Safety Month.

Yes.  It's true.

And I'm concerned this may be something you don't take seriously enough, potentially risking life and limb.

So please.  If you're going to have a bath, keep this in mind:

Baths, especially the young ones, are extremely vulnerable to attack by toddlers with rubber duckies, siblings engaged in splash wars or games of "Kickie", and dogs that have met the wrong end of a skunk (dog hair, tomato juice and skunk oil are a triple threat - I beg you!  Think of your poor little bath!)  Princesses with excessively long hair should NEVER be allowed near a bath - they should just be hosed down outdoors (the necessary shampoo required may cause a dangerous build up of soap scum and the excessive hair itself may lead to the dreaded condition of Clogged Drain! - you mustn't - you simply mustn't!)

A threatened bath is an unpredictable bath which may lash out in self-defense.

A safe bath is a happy bath.

Be a responsible bath owner!  Keep your bath (and yourself) safe!

Thank you.

(This message has been brought to you by the Blueberry Hill Coalition For Bath Safety, which meets weekly under the guise of providing a public service but is really just using the meeting as a reason to eat large quantities of coffee and donuts.)

Phew.  I'm so glad we shared that important Public Service Announcement, aren't you?  I feel much better knowing that the care and safety of baths everywhere has received some much-needed attention!

Now then, if you'd all quit lolling about in the tub, we've got all kinds of high jinx and shenanigans lined up for today.

First, the November Pitch Pick!  (Yay!  At long last! :))

Here are our 4 pitches, all spiffed up and improved thanks to your very helpful feedback.  Please read through them and vote below for the one you think most deserves a read by editor Erin Molta.

#1 Maria - Just Like Us (PB ages 2-6)
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. 

#2 Heather - Hubert's Dreadful Allergies (PB ages 4-8)
The harpsichord is dusted, the tea is poured, the vases are arranged on doily laces, and Hubert the pug is settled calmly on the rug. Lottie Dobson is ready for her fancy luncheon party. But when the members of the Grandview Rose Society arrive with even more blooms, poor Hubert's allergies kick in. What happens next is a riot of mishaps that gets him banned from the room. But when a wily rat sneaks in, steals the cheese, and dangles from the chandelier, it sends the proper party guests on a crazy chase--with a sneezing Hubert in the lead. One big sneeze will save the day! Too bad for Hubert, the sneezing doesn't end there. 

#3 Gail - Knights Of The Kids' Table (PB ages 4-8)
Most of the Knights of the Kids’ Table found Flooted funny. After all, when he got nervous, Flooted tooted. But cranky Hugh couldn’t stand the smell, so he hatched a plan to get rid of Flooted…for good. When Hugh’s scheme flopped, the little knights giggled, the big knights enjoyed silly sword fights, and the grumpy little knight got exactly what he wished for.

#4 Jean - Got Your Nose (PB ages 4-8)
Jack loves playing ‘Got Your Nose’ with his mom, but when bedtime comes, and Jack’s not ready to quit, he turns to his sleeping brother and steals the nose right off his face!  When Jack hears approaching footsteps, he nervously tosses his brother’s nose into the dirty laundry basket, sending it on a harrowing adventure faced with drooling dogs, hungry owls, and stinky skunks that will have you holding your breath, and your nose a little tighter. Will Jack succeed in finding his brother’s nose before morning?    

Please cast your vote by Sunday January 18 at 5 PM EDT, and I will announce the winner on next week's WYRI.  Many thanks!!!


Now, onto the new pitch!

Today's pitcher personally selected her Something Chocolate, and I must say, she has EXCELLENT taste!  Help yourselves!!!

Find the recipe at The Sweets Life HERE
http://www.thesweetslife.com/2012/05/salted-caramel-chocolate-shortbread.html
YUM!  Anyone else need a cup of coffee to go with that? Or maybe a bath?  (Just kidding :))

Today's pitch comes to us from Bekah who says: "Wife, mom to a ten and seven year old, and teacher, I've been stealing time to write poetry and stories for over a decade and using my family as my "willing" critique group.  Recently, I've entered the online writing community, through partipation in PiBoIdMo 2014 at taralazar.com (thanks, Tara!) and the 2014 March Madness-style children's poetry contest at thinkkidthink.com (thanks, Ed!).
No official writing blog yet (I know, I know...I will!) but you can read about my kids' big bears, Peanut and Nugget DaBear, at their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter (I know. I am a little strange. Don't judge!)."
Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Penguin And The Pelican
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-7)
The Pitch: A penguin and a pelican try to fix their awkwardness on land by learning to dance gracefully. When they discover, embarrassingly, that dance lessons can't cure their clumsy gaits, new friends convince the birds to keep dancing joyfully. In the end, the penguin and the pelican's gracefulness in the water and in the air amazes their friends.

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 Bekah 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 late May 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!

Bekah is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to taking my bath to get microchipped so that in case it wanders off it will have the best odds of being returned safely!

Have a wonderful Wednesday , everyone! :)


Reactions:

79 comments:

  1. Susanna- you have such wonderful sense of humor... :)

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  2. Not enough people worry about bath safety. So true! Susanna, your post put a HUGE smile on my face.

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  3. I need to pay more attention to the tub; especially on Bath Day, who knew? ! It's a firm YES for me on today's pitch. Wonderful take on the "ugly duckling" theme. The only thing I'd suggest is to delete the word, embarrassingly, because it isn't necessary. Or maybe it's because I am no friend of adverbs in general. Best wishes to Bekah!

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  4. Voted...and thanks for the goodies!

    I am very impressed by how well-written the pitch for today is. I would definitely read it and have absolutely no suggestions for edits on it. It sounds like a darling story. Great job, Bekah!

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  5. I've checked my bath and ensured it's safety. I appreciate the PSA. Bekah's something chocolate looks sinful. Definitely worth a double serving. Thanks! As for the pitch, well, I adored it. I could see the penguin and pelican flopping and waddling about trying to dance, unless these are Happy Feet birds lol!

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  6. Your PSA is Pitch Perfect!

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  7. Thank you so much for the tip about Bath Safety Month. Will post a sign by the tub.

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  8. I SOOO appreciate the PSA. I absolutely needed it ;) (the laugh, anyway! LOL)

    I would also read this entry - clever and well-put, I think. The only suggestions I really have are, as Linda suggested, taking out "embarassingly." Also, I have been staring at the last sentence of the pitch for probably ten minutes, trying to decide if "amazes" should be "amaze" - I'm pretty sure you've got it right, but might wanna triple check. "Their gracefulness is" - that compound subject made this grammar nerd's head hurt LOL. But it could just be me!

    And such WONDERFUL November pitches - was hard to vote, but I did!

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  9. MUST HAVE ALL OF THEM. *ahem* Sorry. I was dreaming about those loveliest of lovely, yummiest of yummy bars. EGAD. Taste buds are screaming for them.


    Bath safety. Got it. I think. You made me chuckle.


    LOVE the book, Bekah. Would read it. YES. I have nothing to say about that pitch. SO well written. Great job. I did vote. So now can I have some of that delectable chocolate? Will take EXTRA insulin (and lots of it). ;-)

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  10. I need to clean baths. Maybe I can put it off claiming slip/fall safety concerns? I wish.
    I am a maybe on the pitch. Love that it brings to mind Flora and the Flamingo/Penguin books. Love dance books. Not sure what the stakes are though so I'm not clear if the ending will be satisfying. Who cares that they are clumsy on land? The protags? Others? Good luck!

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  11. I'm with Wendy Greenlly on where is the tension and conflict? Other than that does sound cute. But there has to be conflict. Maybe it is in the book manuscript but not the pitch and in that case must be put in the pitch.


    Oh! Susanna! The baths! Ha ha ha! so much fun!! whew.


    And yes, the whole things of chocolate please. I WANT it ALL.

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  12. I like this pitch! There's something about it...I can just tell that the story is going to have heart. Only thing I'd say is that I'd like just a wee bit more detail. What little magic sparks or hooks will the book include? Who gives them the dance lessons? How do their friends convince them...and what aspects of that convincing process will be illustratable?

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  13. I would definitely read this story! But i love bird stories. :-) I agree with the others about removing "embarrassing" and I would also like a hint about the "new friends." "Amazes" is correct, and the ending leaves just enough suspense to make me want to read it! Great pitch.

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  14. Thanks, Linda, for reading and commenting! You may be right about that adverb--I struggled with how to bring up their embarrassment, but maybe I don't need to worry about that. I'll try it without and see how I like it. (:

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  15. Thank you, Teresa! That was good for the ego! (:

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  16. Ha! They are definitely not Happy Feet birds--not much rhythm or grace here (write what you know, right!?). The something chocolate IS delicious, and addicting, and fabulous. May have to make some tonight!

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  17. Thanks, Jean! Good luck with the bath situation!

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  18. Thanks, Joanne, for reading and the suggestions. My husband is the grammar nerd--I haven't taught grammar in 12 years, so I am rusty! I'll double-check with him.

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  19. Don't start making the chocolate goodness. You will want to eat it all yourself!
    Thanks, Robyn, for reading and commenting!

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  20. Thanks for reading and commenting, Wendy! I haven't read the Flamingo/Penguin books (more proof that there is nothing new under the sun!) but will check them out ASAP! I'll fiddle with adding a little more detail; I tend to be wordy so I'm scared to try to add too much more because it may unleash an avalanche of words that I can't control!

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  21. Thanks for commenting! I'll try to add a little conflict and drama to see how it sounds!

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  22. Thanks, Heather! I hope others think it has heart! I appreciate your suggestions and will try to incorporate them!


    Question (for anyone, really):


    With a picture book where not all details are given in the words (in this case, there are 2 or 3 details I'm counting on an illustrator to make clear because I think it flows better without me explaining in words what will more easily be shown in pictures), should those details be given in a pitch by the writer? This is my first attempt, so I'm not sure how to pitch details that aren't in the written manuscript.

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  23. Maria, thanks for reading and the kind words!

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  24. Oh my goodness you are too funny! I love penguins and pelicans what a great combo. I think it just needs something between them clumsily dancing and them being graceful on water. What is the turning point?

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  25. Hi, Catherine! Thanks for reading and commenting! I guess the turning point is breakfast time. (: I'll try working that in!

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  26. Love your humor, Susanna, and your love of chocolate! Yes, I'd read the book about a clumsy penguin and a pelican. It sounds adorable! ~Cathy

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  27. I will go check my bath at once. I fear I have been negligent. In the meantime, cute concept, Bekah. A couple of thoughts...what prompts Penguin and Pelican to worry about their movements on land. Are others making fun of them? What are the stakes if they can't dance properly? Will they lose their friends forever? I'm just trying to give you a few ideas to up the tension/drama. Good luck!

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  28. Thanks, Cathy! I appreciate you reading and commenting!

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  29. Kirsten, thanks for the suggestions. I'm going to look at my manuscript, as well as my pitch, and see if I can actually answer ANY of those questions!

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  30. I'm always amazed how reworking a pitch can help me revise a manuscript. Just keep asking yourself "who cares?" Who cares if they aren't graceful? Who cares if they can't dance well?

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  31. (: My first instinct is to answer when I ask those questions: Ugh. No one. No one cares whether they can dance. They're birds.


    But you're right. Someone has to care, even if it's just the birds--which is most likely the case here, but I'll look again!

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  32. I missed my opportunity for a joke: Is your bath running? Better go catch it! :) Thanks so much for your helpful suggestions for Bekah, Kirsten!

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  33. Thank you, Cathy :) I'm glad you enjoyed both :) Thanks for your encouragement for Bekah!

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  34. Excellent, thought-provoking question, Catherine, thank you!

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  35. Obviously the Penguin and Pelican care, but why? If it matters to them, it matters. We're talking PBs, not Hunger Games, right? The stakes are different but equally as important. :)

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  36. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments for Bekah, Maria!

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  37. Thanks so much for your thoughtful questions for Bekah, Heather - I'm sure she'll find them helpful!

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  38. I would say (and I might be wrong) that a pitch should give an editor a sense of the main point of the story - what the story is about at it's heart - what's going to make people want to read it. I don't think there's any need to include details about things that will have to be shown in the illustrations in the pitch. You would want to include those things either as art notes or in your cover letter as part of a submission if they're necessary to the understanding of the story, but they shouldn't be necessary in the pitch. I'd be interested if others think differently about this.

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  39. Thanks for chiming in for Bekah, Clar! Help yourself to all the chocolate you want and be kind to your bath :)

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  40. Wouldn't it be awesome to have a maid, Wendy? :) Think of all the cleaning we could NOT do, and still have a clean house. And meanwhile we could spend all that cleaning time writing and reading picture books :) (Yeah, I know. Who am I kidding? "All that cleaning time" in my house is pretty minimal to leave time for the writing and reading :)) Thanks so much for your insightful comments for Behak!

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  41. I know! Don't they look divine, Rob? We could have a chocolate feast! :) And yes. Do take good are of your sweet little bath and keep it safe from harm :) (See, this is what happens when I write posts late at night when I'm tired... It's entirely possible I'm certifiable :)) Thanks so much for your comments for Bekah and for voting!

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  42. I live to serve, Joanne. It's all about the PSAs. And the coffee. And the donuts :) Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Bekah and for voting!

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  43. Hahaha, Jean! I'm familiar with those super heroes that can't snorkel! I've got a few of those too. And some farm animals :) Hurray for a day-off Wednesday! Put your feet up and enjoy the chocolate! And thanks so much for chiming in for Bekah!

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  44. Yes. Do that. The sign should say:
    Do not splash my water on the floor.
    Do not cause me to overflow with boats, army guys, farm animals, rubber duckies, or the entire tea set.
    Do not put in so many bubbles that I can't breathe.
    Clean off the soap scum and get your hair out my drain! :)

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  45. Thank you, Nancy. You know that I have everyone's best interests at heart at all times, including bath time :)

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  46. Gold star for you, Angela, taking such good care of your bath! You have earned a triple serving of the sinfully delicious chocolate! And thanks for your comments for Bekah! :)

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  47. Thanks for reading, chiming in for Bekah, and voting, Teresa! I bet you could make those goodies... and they might be the kind of goody that would mail well... :)

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  48. Hahaha Linda! Especially on bath day! I love it :) Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Bekah!

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  49. It's true. It's a tough job - very under appreciated - but someone's got to do it :)

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  50. Hi Bekah! The pitch is adorable, and I agree with Susanna about the art notes: keep them in the cover letter or manuscript, not the pitch. Details I'd love to see in the pitch would not add to the word count, but make the wording more concrete. You could state who the friends are, and maybe instead of telling us they have a clumsy gait you could show us some fun dance misses (slip, tumble, careen). Details like that would show how your story is different and make the pitch pop. :)

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  51. I think Kirsten Larson really nailed the problems with this pitch. That said, I think the idea of these two creatures dancing around would lend itself to some wonderful illustrations and I do think kids would like it. I'd read it for sure.

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  52. I'm sure Bekah will be pleased that you can see the overall promise, Rosi! :)

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  53. Yes. I like the idea of showing the characters not being able to succeed at something but that it's ok if they can find a way to enjoy it.

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  54. Are those...buckeye bars? I didn't know you were an Ohio State Collegiate Championship team fan Susanna!


    On to the goal, er, pitch...dancing clumsy birds made me giggle. What happens to make them want to change their gaits? Before they decide on dance lessons? Choosing to learn to dance is a cute idea, but I'd I'd like to know the stakes. The idea about the animals learning they're not so good at something and having their friends acknowledge they are good at something-that which comes naturally to them-are two good themes for kidlit books.

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  55. Hi Bekah! I vote yes, I would definitely read this. It's intriguing and I love the pairing of your two main characters. To improve, I think you need to raise the stakes as mentioned in previous comments. Why is it so important for them both to cute their clumsy gate on land? Another thing I noticed is you kind of gave the ending away so you might want to tweak that a bit so readers can't wait find out what happens. Well done!

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  56. I didn't know I was either, Keila, especially since Bekah chose it, but if that's the snack that goes with being a Buckeye fan then rah! rah! :) Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Bekah!

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  57. Thank you so much for sharing your reactions with Bekah, Jamie! I'm sure she'll find them helpful! :)

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  58. Thank you, Jamie, for your suggestions!

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  59. Thanks, Keila! The bars, BTW, have caramel instead of peanut butter, which would be delicious as well! I went to college at a school in Ann Arbor, so I am a Michigan fan, but I will gladly eat ONE'S signature snack any day!

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  60. Thank you, Karen! I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment!

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  61. Thanks, Rosi! I am glad you can see the illustration possibilities as well!

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  62. You are certainly not shy about broad hints, Susanna! :D

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  63. No, I certainly am not! :) The S in my name is most certainly not for subtlety :) But I am really just kidding :)


    ... or am I? :)

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  64. Bekah - I love the pairing of your bird characters but my concern is that learning to dance is too predictable and reminds me a little of Giraffes Can't Dance.
    It might be more interesting for the characters to explore or try out what they think to be more graceful occupations - perhaps dance being only one of them - before discovering on their own and through each other's help (I'm not sure if new friends are needed to reenforce that) that it's ok and a lot less ridiculous for them to just be themselves. You have a lot of space for a quirky adventure of self discovery. Good luck!

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  65. Mike Allegra writerJanuary 16, 2015 at 2:21 PM

    Voted!

    And thank you for the Bath safety warning, Susanna! You have my word that I will not bathe for the rest of this month.

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  66. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikJanuary 17, 2015 at 8:20 AM

    This sounds awesome! Do they end up break dancing? ;) I would totally read this! I love Penguins (and Pelicans)! :D
    And Ms. Hill, because I was born in Ohio, I am a true Buckeye fan, so that means that I get all of the treats. ;) Thank you for that wonderful ad, too, by the way!
    I voted too! It was hard, though. So many good ones! :D

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  67. I love the pairing of the penquin and the pelican friends - two of my favorite birds. I would definitely read it, but I would like to see them tackle a few more obstacles.

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  68. Nice suggestions for Bekah, Mishka! Thanks for sharing :)

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  69. Thanks for voting and for your helpful comments for Ms. Hoeft, Erik! As to the treats, though I am always willing to share, I have to draw the line at letting you have them ALL! I need to keep up my strength! As do the other visitors here :) Ohio, eh? I was born in New York City, even though my biological parents were Dutch - Friesian, technically. How old were you when you were adopted? I was 11 months - pretty old!

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  70. Thanks so much for chiming in for Bekah, Michelle! Very helpful! :)

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  71. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikJanuary 18, 2015 at 12:58 PM

    I was 3 days old when my parents legally adopted me but they were there right after I was born. My birthmom asked them to come to the hospital. :)
    What? No treats? ;)

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  72. That's so cool! I was adopted back in the dark ages of closed adoptions where nobody knew anything about anybody and certainly didn't meet each other.
    Not NO treats, just share nicely with your friends! :)

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  73. Sorry for commenting so late, but I am still recovering form my bath last week :-) Bekah's story has a good theme (and I can just see the illustrations) but I agree with the others that a little more conflict is needed- and I would just hint at the ending and not give it away.

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  74. Thank you for the suggestions! You all are so nice to read and give advice!

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  75. Thanks, Michele! I'm going to explore that possibility. It's so hard to think about adding in more when the story felt complete (to me!), but I think everyone is right about needing something more in the conflict department. Thanks again!

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  76. Thank you, Erik! I'm picturing the jitterbug or tango, but breakdancing could be pretty great!
    Thanks for reading and commenting on my pitch!

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  77. Thank you, Mishka, for the advice! I appreciate you taking the time to really think about it!

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  78. Hahaha, Iza! You made me laugh out loud! :) Thanks so much for your comments for Bekah - luckily your bath adventures didn't harm your ability to give helpful suggestions :)

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