September 19, 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday - The Most Magnificent Thing PLUS The Goodnight Ark Giveaway Winner!

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

Boy do I have the most magnificent book to share with you today!  It's one of those books that makes you revel in how perfect it is when you get to the end and want to read it again right away in case you missed anything and then again just to enjoy how much fun it is :)  I hope you all like it as much as I do!

Title: The Most Magnificent Thing
Written & Illustrated By: Ashley Spires
Kids Can Press, April 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: creativity, perseverance, perspective, emotion (frustration)

Opening: "This is a regular girl and her best friend in the whole wide world.  They do all kinds of things together.  They race.  They eat.  They explore.  They relax.  She makes things.  He unmakes things.  One day, the girl has a wonderful idea.  She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing!"


Brief Synopsis: A little girl sets out to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing with the help of her best friend and assistant, her dog.  Imagine their shock when the thing turns out not to be magnificent!  In fact, it's not even "good. It isn't even kind-of-sort-of okay. It is all wrong."  So she tosses it and starts again.  But it's not easy to turn her vision into reality.  Frustration leads to anger, and anger leads to defeat.  Luckily, her assistant suggests a walk which brings calm and clarity and a new perspective... and a most magnificent thing :)

Links To Resources: supply a variety of craft items and/or found objects and encourage kids to think up and create their own "magnificent things"; Goldie Blox Toys (which encourage girls to put down the dolls and pick up the tools and might give you some invention ideas)

Why I Like This Book:  I love that this story addresses what may be the most common of all childhood emotions: frustration!  The little girl has a great idea.  She can imagine it perfectly.  She knows exactly how it will look.  But she has a hard time translating what she sees in her mind's eye to the physical reality of her most magnificent thing.  Her escalation of emotion is real and believable (and kids will relate to it so well!)  And the message that sometimes a little distance and a little time to calm down can help improve your perspective is a wonderful one.  In the end, she makes something that is just perfect (but I won't tell you what it is :))  The art is cute and full of humor.  The depiction of emotion is spot on.  The story touches on imagination and creativity, making things from found objects, dealing with frustration and disappointment, keeping/finding your perspective, not giving up, the idea that it's okay to make mistakes, and the importance of having a good friend.  All around, a book kids will enjoy and parents will be glad to read multiple times.

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

Now, before we all trot off so see what everyone else picked this week, I'd like to take a moment to announce the winner of last week's giveaway.  Laura Sassi and her publisher, Zonderkidz, generously contributed a copy of GOODNIGHT, ARK and the lucky winner is . . .

Sandy Perlic!!!

Congratulations, Sandy!  Please email me so we can organize getting you your book!  And thanks to everyone who shared their bedtime routines - we all had so much fun reading about them!

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!  I can't wait to see what's on the list for today :)

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! :)


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September 17, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday #145 Special Edition - Taffeta: Diary Of A Supermodel (PB)

Howdy, folks!

Guess what?

We have a very special Would You Read It today!  It's a little less of a pitch and little more of a jacket blurb, and it's for a great cause!

You all may recall back in November... sheesh, that was nearly a year ago, wasn't it?!  Where does the time go?... but anyway, you may recall we had a special Would You Read It for Faith The Heroic Pony.  It was written by Sue Weeding and introduced to us by Koren Helbig, a journalist who discovered Sue's extraordinary mission.  Today, I'm hoping we can once again put our heads together to help Koren and Sue ensure the success of Sue's new book, soon to be released.  I'll let Koren tell you all about it:

Sue and Rod Weeding moved to Spain from Britain aiming to slip into an easy sunshine-and-relaxation retirement. But all that changed in 2008 with Luceiro, a two-year-old stallion they found locked in a filthy and dark stable, his left eye badly injured and rotting, hurling himself repeatedly against the bars of his stall as flies drove him crazy. The Weedings brought him home and unwittingly created a much-needed horse rescue centre.
Now, at their Easy Horse Rescue Center in Spain’s southeastern province of Alicante, the Weedings care for more than 80 horses, ponies and donkeys saved from abuse and neglect. Some of the animal's remarkable stories have been told in this documentary.
Among their charges is little Faith, who became the first pony in Spain to be fitted with a prosthetic leg after her mutilated front leg had to be amputated.
Faith's journey inspired Sue to write a series of children's books telling the stories of the center's horses, aiming to raise awareness about animal abuse while generating additional funds to cover the center's hefty running costs. The first book, Faith: Dairy of a heroic horse, is available on Amazon. Now we'd love a little help putting together a snappy blurb for the second book, Taffeta: Diary of a supermodel. Thanks!
I know Koren and Sue have come to the right place!  There is no one better to help them than you guys.  Here is a little Something Chocolate to get you going.  Don't think of it as bribery... think of it as brain fuel :)

Ooh!  Scrumptious!
(And many thanks to Teresa for calling my attention to this deliciousness! :))

So without further ado, here is the pitch/blurb for Sue's soon-to-be-released new book, Taffeta: Diary Of A Supermodel.

Working Title: Taffeta: Diary Of A Supermodel by Sue Weeding
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 6-13)
The Pitch/Blurb:

Taffeta was a prized show pony winning rosettes in England when one day she was taken from her mother, loaded onto a strange trailer and driven many hours south to a hot and dusty paddock in Spain. When her new owner there fell ill, Taffeta was left without food and water until she grew so weak she couldn't even stand.
Luckily, this sad true story has a happy ending. Taffeta was saved by a local couple who run a horse rescue center and soon her beauty had propelled her to stardom in Spain. Taffeta became a supermodel and the star of many local fashion shows!
Share in the heartwarming story of Taffeta's rescue and rise to fame in this diary-style picture book packed full of beautiful real-life photographs.
All funds raised from the sale of this book help the Easy Horse Care Rescue Center Foundation in Spain care for its many rescued horses, ponies, and donkeys.
Taffeta: Diary of a supermodel is the second in a series of children’s books in which the horses and other animals saved by the Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre share their real-life rescue stories.
The Easy Horse Care Rescue Center is based in Rojales, along Spain’s famed Costa Blanca coastline in the Valencia province. The center opens to the public every Sunday all year round. You’re welcome to come along and meet the horses, ponies, donkeys, and many other rescued animals that reside at the center and hear their incredible stories.
For more information or to make a donation, visit www.easyhorsecare.net or email center founders Rod and Sue Weeding on rescue@easyhorsecare.net.
Thank you for your support.
And so you all can see the subject of this story:

Taffeta shortly after her rescue, getting treats for being brave
Sue Weeding with little Taffeta, shortly after her rescue
Taffeta all dressed up for a fashion show :)
Happy and healthy Taffeta today :)

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 Koren and Sue improve their 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 November 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!

Koren and Sue are looking forward to your thoughts on their pitch!  I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this question (which I just thought of because of today's pitch :)):

Would there be any interest among the ranks here in expanding Would You Read It to include jacket blurbs?  I think it would be very helpful to writers who intend to self-publish, and it's very good practice to see if you've really got a handle on your book!  I don't think there would be as much call for it, so blurbs would be less frequent than pitches, but what do you think?  I would only want to try it if you guys thought it would be interesting and fun.  So let me know in the comments! :)


Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone, and definitely seconds or thirds on that cake up there :)


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September 12, 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Goodnight, Ark PLUS A Giveaway!!!

Dzoo dzoo-doo dzoo dzoo dzoo dzooooo!!!

(That's me playing my kazoo in celebration.  You didn't know I was a kazoo virtuoso, did you?  Just another of my many talents.  I am also a whiz at removing toothpaste "mints" from the sink :))

Welcome back to another year of Perfect Picture Book Fridays!

I am so looking forward to all the new picture books we're going to share!

Parents, teachers, readers, and writers take note!  There will be something for everyone to enjoy and learn from :)

I am thrilled to be presenting a wonderful book for the 2014-2015 PPBF kick-off, written by none other than your friend and mine, Laura Sassi.  Since this is part of her blog tour, we are fortunate to have her here with us today, sharing her thoughts on the illustrations and how parents and teachers can engage their kids through them.  She and her publisher, Zonderkidz, are also generously offering a giveaway, so one lucky reader will win a copy of this delightful book! (U.S. residents only - street address, no P.O. box - publisher's stipulation.)  Laura's thoughts and the giveaway will appear below the book listing.

Title: Goodnight, Ark
Written By: Laura Sassi
Illustrated By: Jane Chapman
Zonderkidz, August 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8 (according to publisher, but I think ages 2-3 would enjoy it too :))

Themes/Topics: animals, bedtime, fear (of thunderstorms), language fun (rhyme, onomatopoeia)

Opening: "Beds are ready.
Food is stored.
Noah hollers,
"All aboard!"
Guests rush forward.
Furry, scaled,
woolly, feathered,
swishy-tailed."

Brief Synopsis: Two by two, the animals board Noah's ark.  They're supposed to settle down and go to sleep... but the heavy rain, thunder and lightning frighten them, so two by two they climb in bed with Noah!  How much can one bed take? And will anybody get any sleep?

Links To Resources: talk about onomatopoetic words - what onomatopoetic words can kids think up?  Words for eating sounds? Engine noises? Musical sounds?; Noah's Ark coloring page #1Noah's Ark coloring page #2; talk about the bible story of Noah's ark - how is it like GOODNIGHT, ARK and how is it different?; talk about fears - is anyone afraid of storms?  What other things are frightening?  What can you do to feel safe and secure when you're frightened?; the animals are described as "furry, scaled, woolly, feathered, swishy-tailed" - what animals can you think of that are furry? scaled? etc.; please see Laura's thoughts below on ways to use the illustrations; here's the link to book trailer (in case it doesn't load properly here :)) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRsc-pKmKwM




Why I Like This Book: This is a delightful story - an entertaining, clever, child-friendly twist on the original Noah's ark.  The text is the perfect length for young attention spans.  The rhyme is filled with fun onomatopoetic words that kids will enjoy joining in with.  The art is bright, colorful and engaging, filled with small details that will keep young listeners busy.  But possibly my favorite thing is the skunks who have a whole story of their own going on in the illustrations.  Start looking for them in the 4th spread and watch what happens :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

The Importance of Illustration - Thoughts From Laura Sassi
(A lesson for writers, and an opportunity for parents, teachers, and kids :))

Author Laura Sassi
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One of the basic rules of picture book writing is that writers need to let the illustrations tell part of the story. I understood this in principle, but it wasn’t until I saw Jane Chapman’s delightful illustrations for GOODNIGHT, ARK that it really hit home. I mean, WOW! Her illustrations truly show that principle in action and are a great reminder for me, that as a writer, I should curb any lingering tendency to over-describe or over-prescribe my texts and let the illustrators do their jobs.  

Here, then, are some great examples of how Jane used illustration to add humor and even extra plot details to GOODNIGHT, ARK. You’ll have to look carefully, for they are subtly sprinkled throughout her rich and colorful spreads:
1.Extra Animals: In addition to the key players, Jane adds extra animal guests.  I found nine extra pairs. Can you?
2. Extra (funny!)provisions: The text makes no mention of specific provisions, leaving lots of room for Jane to add humorous extras like the canned cat food that rolls across the floor on the tippiest page in the story.  It took me several reads to notice them! What other funny provisions do you see?
3. Underwear!: Every child I’ve read my story to has howled at Jane’s humorous inclusion of polka-dotted boxers quietly hanging on the line to dry.  We’ve also chuckled over the toothbrush. Both nice touches, I would never have thought of. What other humorous extras can you find?
4. Extra Plot Layer:  I don’t want to give away the most exciting part, but a certain pair of creatures is instrumental in restoring balance on the ark. In her illustrations, Jane brings out the personality of this pair in a darling way, even hinting through their gestures that they planned the whole stinky thing.  I LOVE that extra layering! 

Thanks, Laura!  To see the other stops on Laura's blog tour (6 completed, 4 upcoming) please click HERE for the links.


And now for the giveaway!  All you have to do to be entered is leave a comment telling us something funny about bedtime: a favorite trick for getting kids to bed? an unusual bedtime routine? something kids won't sleep without? some clever way kids try to get out of bedtime?  Anything fun and bedtime-related.  Bonus point if it includes an animal in some way :)

My example (which does not include animals except as occasional topics of discussion) is that when my son was little, he was never ready for sleep when he got in bed.  Instead, he had what he called his "thinking time" which inevitably (Every. Night!) involved him getting up numerous times and coming to ask me such can't-wait questions as, "How much is infinity?", "Where does wind come from?", "How many teeth does a tyrannosaurus rex have?", and "Why is it called the Milky Way?"  To which I would respond knowledgeably, "Uh......." :)

Please leave your comment by Sunday September 14 at 5 PM EDT.  A winner will be chosen at random and announced next week.  One note: the publisher stipulates that the winner must reside in the U.S. and have a street address, not a PO box, so please let us know if you're commenting just for fun and are not eligible.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!  Hurray!  Can't wait!!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


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September 10, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday #144 - Cleo And Pinkie (PB) PLUS The July Pitch Winner PLUS Straight From The Editor x2!

Hellooo Dearies!!!

I am so glad to be back after my August off of blogging, and so glad to see you all!!!

I know the year officially begins on January 1st, but really, September always feels like the new year to me.  Too many years in school, I guess :)

It's lovely to see so many friends reappearing on their blogs after a summer off.  There is energy and excitement and enthusiasm in the air.  I am, as always, full of ideas I don't have enough time to implement (but that never stops me from thinking I can follow through on them somehow :))

There will probably be some changes afoot around here.  I'm not sure what yet, exactly, but I might want to try something new and different on Mondays at some point... feel free to make suggestions in the comments if there's something in particular you'd like to see.  And I'm going to try (after today :)) to make my posts a little shorter...  Stop laughing!  Seriously!  I can HEAR you!

I find I'm having a hard time keeping all the balls in the air, what with writing, teaching, critiquing, blogging/social media, school visits, marketing, continuing ed, and my position as COO in a home with a husband, 5 kids, 2 dogs, aging parents just down the road and a pony up the road, so my answer to that is A SCHEDULE.  Novel idea, don't you think?  I haven't written it down yet, but I am cogitating on it (er, since January...), and I feel confident that at some point a Master Plan that is helpful and productive will emerge that will allow me to get everything done in half the time.  There is a faction here on Blueberry Hill that objects to me working 24/7 :)  You'll know the Master Plan is in place when I tell you I've read a book longer than 32 pages for fun :)

I'm already looking forward to the upcoming writing contests! and I'll give you a heads up: The Halloweensie Contest will run from October 27-31, and The Holiday Contest will run from December 8-12.  In both cases the judging, voting, and winner announcements will occur in the week following.  So mark your calendars :)

Now, before we go a step further, there is something CRUCIAL we must attend to after these weeks off!  It's time for...

SOMETHING CHOCOLATE!!!
Ultimate Brownie Sundae - YUM!
And something specially NOT chocolate for Julie R-Z because she did something deserving of a special treat and she doesn't like chocolate for breakfast - go figure!  (And if you give me a few minutes I might remember what it was she did - all I have here is a note that it had something to do with a survey... :))
Glazed Apple Crumb Muffins!
Recipe here: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/06/10/glazed-apple-crumb-muffins/

Alrighty!  Now that we have bolstered our blood sugar, let's continue, shall we?

(The problem with vacation is there's always catching up to do afterwards.)

First, did I get a chance to tell you who won the June and July Pitch Picks?

I think I mentioned that Kimberly had won the June pick with her pitch for Sprinkles The Clown.  But we can't have gotten around to the July winner yet because we haven't been here!  The July Pitch Pick was won by Brandie with her pitch for The Trouble With Keeping Vikings!  Congratulations to Kimberly and Brandie as well as to all the other brave and talented writers who submitted pitches.  Your pitches were ALL so good, and it's such a wonderful opportunity for us all to learn from each other!

Second, we have Straight From The Editor for both June and July!

Let's start with June since that appeals to my sense of orderly chronology.  Because I am so orderly :) (Please refer back to the Master Plan under construction :))

You will recall Kimberly's pitch for her picture book, Sprinkles The Clown:

Sprinkles the Clown wants to fit in with her classmates on the first day of Kindergarten, but when her show-and-tell juggling act goes wrong, all the other little clowns laugh at her. However, as a storm rolls in scaring all the students, Sprinkles puts her own fears aside and uses one of her true clowning skills to save the day!
Here are editor Erin Molta's insightful thoughts:

This sounds cute, though for a pitch you need to be a little more specific. Don’t worry about giving it all away. I’m assuming that all the kids are clowns, right? So I’d say something like I’ve done below. Also what is a “true” clowning skill? I would definitely say what Sprinkles did that made all of the other little clowns feel safer or less afraid.

Sprinkles the Clown wants to fit in with her classmates on the first day of Kindergarten, but when her show-and-tell juggling act goes wrong, all the other little clowns laugh at her. However, as a storm rolls in scaring all the students, Sprinkles puts her own fears aside and [does what?] to save the day!

Brandie's pitch for her picture book, The Trouble With Keeping Vikings, was as follows:

A boy opens his front door and comes face-to-face with a startling surprise. A Viking horde has come for a visit, and they REEK of mischief. From snot-snakes to clashing swords, the outrageous antics of these pesky pillagers are never-ending. That is until the boy makes a certain phone call that will leave these manner-less brutes quaking in their Viking-boots.

Erin had this to say:

I love Vikings and they are somewhat "hot" now, so this definitely has potential, but no need to hide so much. Who is the boy calling? An editor might be so curious that they'll ask for the manuscript to find out, but usually they'll ask because the idea intrigues them and they want to see how you go about it. So it's much better to give them as much information to aid in that process as possible.

Thanks as always to Erin for her very helpful thoughts.  We are so lucky that she is such a cheerful contributor to this series!

Now, then.  The moment you've all been waiting for - Would You Read It!

Today's pitch comes to us from Hope who says, "I used to travel around the globe, working as a contract interpreter for the US State Department and a freelance translator until I became a mother. Now as the mother of two children, I continue my love of language by reading with them and writing."

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Cleo And Pinkie
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Cleo is always busy doing something, but that often turns into trouble. As Mommy grumbles, Cleo brings in Pinkie, her imaginary, mischievous friend, and blames him for everything. “Pinkie did it!” But soon Mommy can’t tolerate it anymore and declares, “No more Pinkie!” With Pinkie gone, the house is quiet and trouble free until Mommy discovers another mess…this time to her delightful surprise.

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 Hope 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 October so jump right in and send your pitch for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Hope is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to getting back into a routine and implementing my Master Plan... as soon as I think it up :)  I am also looking forward to starting up Perfect Picture Book Fridays again in only 2 days!  I have a special one on deck for you that includes a giveaway so yay! :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!  So glad we're all back together again! :)




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July 30, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday - The July Pitch Pick! PLUS Straight From The Editor And Summer Vacation :)

Do you guys know what today is?

Well, yes, you're right, it is Would You Read It Wednesday.

It also happens to be the day before my granddaughter's 3rd birthday (which coincidentally falls on the same day as Harry Potter's, Neville Longbottom's, and J.K. Rowling's! :))

It also happens to be National Cheesecake Day, which I intend to honor in a moment...

But it is also the last day of posting here until September!

It's true.  In order not to be disowned by my family I am taking August off from blogging.  I promised I would, and so I shall.  But it's going to be hard and I'm going to miss you all terribly!

Let's have Something Chocolate to lift our spirits, shall we?  In honor of the day, I'm thinking Chocolate Cheesecake!

Death-By-Chocolate Cheesecake!
Recipe here: http://hotpolkadot.com/2013/02/10/death-by-chocolate-and-the-birth-of-a-blog/
I think I speak for all of us when I say I may not feel that much better about not seeing you for a month but boy is that good! :)

And now, how about Straight From The Editor for May?  Hearing from Erin Molta, our wonderful and helpful visiting editor, always perks us up, doesn't it?

You will recall that the May Pitch Pick was won by Todd with his pitch for Orville Wright's Final Flight.

Here is his winning pitch:

Orville Wright's Final Flight by Todd Burleson (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.  

And here are Erin's thoughts:

This sounds somewhat intriguing but in the crowded nonfiction picture book market you need to give us a little bit more.. Is there any way you can give us a little hint about what made his last flight so special? 

That could make or break whether an editor will ask you for the whole manuscript.

As always, I find her thoughts insightful!  Thank you, Erin :)

And now, it's time for the July Pitch Pick, which is always so exciting :)  Here are our 4 fabulous pitches:

#1 Michelle - Escalators Don't Bite! -  Picture Book (ages 2-6)

Salim, world traveler, worries about whether he’s packed enough crayons. He worries his backpack will come unzipped. But with his whole family on its way to see Grandma and Grandpa, he’s worried most about his little sister Malika, who never does what she’s supposed to do. On her first trip to the airport, Salim knows that if it’s sticky, Malika will spill it. If there’s an escalator, Malika will get stuck on it. And if there’s a red button, Malika will push it. Desperate to ensure his family gets to the gate on time for their flight, Salim has started work on a Little Travelers’ Guide to Airports. But while he’s busy writing, the irrepressible Malika is busy exploring. When Salim’s sage travel advice comes up against Malika’s infectious sense of adventure, both siblings learn something important from each other about airport travel safety and fun.

(And Michelle adds: Many thanks to all who gave their revision advice. I hope I've gotten closer with this version!)

#2 Lavanya - How Not to Be a Monster Meal - Picture Book (K-3)
Posey has a brand new room. But something lurks within the gloom -- A monster with a riddle dare! And he's hungry as a bear. If Posey can't outwit the cretin, little Posey will be eaten...


#3  Brandie - The Trouble With Keeping Vikings - Picture Book (ages 4-6)
A boy opens his front door and comes face-to-face with a startling surprise. A Viking horde has come for a visit, and they REEK of mischief. From snot-snakes to clashing swords, the outrageous antics of these pesky pillagers are never-ending. That is until the boy makes a certain phone call that will leave these manner-less brutes quaking in their Viking-boots.

#4 Erin - Love, Emmett - Picture Book (ages 4-8)
Emmett loved books so much that he eventually loved them to pieces…literally. After his favorite one falls apart, Emmett saves the last remaining page, only he can’t remember the story quite right. When his teacher asks the class to share their favorite books, Emmett must decide how to tell the story. But his love for the book might just say everything.

Please vote for the one you think is best and deserves a read by editor Erin Molta by Sunday August 3 at 5 PM.


Thank you so much!

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!

And now, my poppets, I bid you happy August.  I hope you all have tons of fun with your families and your writing and reading, swimming, sailing, sunning, hiking, biking, kayaking, riding, playing volleyball, tennis, baseball, or whatever floats your boat - generally enjoying all summer has to offer!

See you September 10 for the return of Would You Read It, and September 12 for the kick off of Perfect Picture Books Year 3!

xoxoxo :)



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July 23, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday #143 - Love, Emmett (PB)

Well, folks, here it is Wednesday again!  What a week it has been, and not a good one.

I like to keep things upbeat around here, so I won't depress you with details.  But I haven't got the heart for high jinx and shenanigans today.  Instead I'll just ask that if you have kids and they're near, give them a hug.  If they're not near, call them and tell them how much you love them.  Take a moment to be grateful if they're alive and well, even if sometimes they try your patience, and if they're old enough to be driving, remind them, even if they roll their eyes, that motor vehicles demand respect and caution at all times - at least twice as much respect and caution as they think.  Then hug them again.  And maybe once more, just because you can.

And now, I will be having at least two helpings of Something Chocolate, and I recommend you do the same.  Celebrate the good!  I picked something delicious and chocolatey but also delightfully cold since it's going to climb well into the 90s today.  Two layers of decadent chocolate cake with a layer of vanilla ice cream sandwiched in between all topped with hot fudge!  Really, what could be better than that? :)  Maybe chocolate ice cream in the middle :)
Milo Ice Cream Cake
http://www.brit.co/ice-cream-cakes/
Now that we have all enjoyed a sustaining snack, let's get right to Would You Read It.

Today's pitch comes to us from Erin who says, "My name is Erin. I have a degree in Biology, a job that has nothing to do with my degree, and an insane urge to write, which has nothing to do with my job! A couple of years ago, I discovered a box of books I had saved from my childhood and realized I wasn't pursuing my passion. I started writing picture books, taking online classes, and trying to learn my craft. And this year I've committed to putting my work out there for critique so I can eventually get to the next step--submission!"

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Love, Emmett
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Emmett loved books so much that he eventually loved them to pieces…literally. Going on daily adventures with a little boy will do that to a book. After his favorite one falls apart, Emmett saves the one remaining page to remember the book by, only he can’t seem to get the story quite right. When Emmett’s teacher asks the class to share their favorite books, Emmett must decide how to tell the book’s story. But his love for the book might just say everything.

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 Erin 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!

Erin is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to spending time with my family, including my sister and brother-in-law and my niece and nephews who are arriving this afternoon for a two week stay.  After this week, time with family is exactly what I want most.

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone! :)


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July 16, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday #142 - Sophie Vs. The Monster (PB) PLUS The June Pitch Winner!!!

Dog saga alert!

(You can skip down to Would You Read It if you don't want to hear the dog story.  My feelings will only be a little bit hurt... and you may possibly get less Something Chocolate... but please, skip if you want :))

So yesterday on my way out to meet a writer friend for coffee (okay, actually lemon bars (her) and oatmeal raisin cookies (me)... thank you for the cafe, Barnes & Noble :)) I saw a stray dog.

He was a chocolate lab, young-looking, wearing two collars (a choke chain and a regular collar), but wandering about with that definitely lost look.

He wasn't far from the main road where cars drive VERY fast, and there were heavy thunderstorms in the forecast - both bad things for most dogs.  Plus, he was wearing that choke chain and I don't like to see dogs on the loose wearing things that could get caught on a branch or something and potentially choke them.

So I stopped my car, got out, and spoke to him nicely.

He took right off into the woods.

Ah, well, I thought.  Maybe the people at Crazy Acres across the road got a new dog.  (They have a lot of dogs over there and they're always getting loose.)  I was going to be late, I had no hope of running fast enough to catch a dog that didn't want to be caught, and I certainly didn't want to accidentally chase him toward the main road, so off I went to meet my friend.

But when I came back 3 1/2 hours later (yes, 3 1/2! Don't get all judgy!  It was a half hour drive there and another half hour drive home, and we had a lot to catch up on and a lot of dessert items to eat :)) ANYway, as I was SAYing, 3 1/2 hours later I saw him again in almost the exact same place.

Once again I stopped the car and got out and spoke to him sweetly.  This time he lay down and looked at me, but then decided either me or the car or both were too scary and off he ran again.

I went home to get some chicken to lure him with, and discovered that my daughter had seen him as well on her way in from work an hour earlier, although at that point he had been all the way in near our house.  We set out on foot with the chicken, hoping to tempt him close enough to catch and see if he had tags.

No luck.

We couldn't find him.

So we walked home.

But we were both worried about him out there, wandering lost, with darkness falling and thunderstorms coming and that road not far enough away.

I was about to suggest running down to Stop & Shop to see if anyone had posted a lost dog poster on the board there when my daughter, who is much smarter than I am, googled lost dogs in our town and discovered a listing on a FB page that was definitely the dog we had seen!  There was a photograph of him and a phone number to call.

Chocolate lab missing on Pleasant Ridge Rd. I know he was naughty for running away, but we love and miss him. We are very worried about him. :(

Please call with any info


It had just gone up!  If we'd googled before we walked out with the chicken we wouldn't have seen it!  So I called right away and told the woman we had seen her dog multiple times over the past few hours.  Turns out, she lives up on the corner less than half a mile away!  She was very grateful for the information on where we had seen him and set out at once in her car, hoping that if he was nearby and heard her voice he would come to her.  I was worried, though, because by the time I spoke to her I hadn't actually seen the dog for nearly an hour.  He could have wandered off anywhere.  And she said he wasn't very good about listening or coming when called.

"I hope she finds him" and "I hope he gets home safe" we all kept saying to each other.  But we didn't expect to find out.  I hadn't given the woman my name or phone number in our hurry, just the info on where the dog was so she could get right out and look for him.

Well, we comforted each other as we started making dinner, at least we saw him and called, and she's out looking for him.  We did what we could do.

And then, to my surprise, the phone rang about 20 minutes after I'd spoken to her.  She was very kindly calling back (thanks, redial :)) to report that she had found him and he was home safe and sound (although extremely smelly and requiring an immediate bath :))  "I can't tell you how grateful I am," she said.  "He's my husband's best friend, and he didn't even want to come home if his dog was still missing."

Truthfully I didn't feel like we had done all that much, but it was a happy ending to the adventure all around, and an instance of when social media really works well and is great to have! :)

I know after that emotionally wrenching story you must all be ready for Something Chocolate!  How about some Mississippi Mud Pie (because we are having torrential downpours here which is making a lot of mud, so mud pie seems very apropos :))

Mississippi Mud Pie!
Recipe here: http://www.cookingclassy.com/2013/11/mississippi-mud-pie/
Ah!  That's better!  I feel refreshed enough to tell you about the June Pitch Pick, which I know you have all been wondering about so desperately that you got up early just so you could rush over here and find out! :)

So it is my pleasure to announce that the winner of the June Pitch Pick is . . .

Kimberly!!!
with her pitch for Sprinkles Goes To School!!!

Congratulations, Kimberly!  Your pitch has already been sent to editor Erin Molta and I'm sure you'll hear from her soon!

Congratulations to all our pitchers from June as well!  You all did a terrific job, and your stories sound wonderful and engaging and I would read them all!  Give yourselves a pat on the back for writing the story, writing the pitch, being brave enough to submit the pitch for feedback, and then being professional enough to revise your pitches based on that feedback to really improve them.  Excellent job everyone!

Today's pitch comes to us from Lavanya who says, "I'm a software engineer by day, and an avid reader of fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and literature by night. I'm also mother to a young girl who has just discovered the magical ability to make meaning out of the printed word. I started putting my own words down on paper last November, and when I went to my regional SCBWI conference in April, I confirmed a suspicion that I had long harbored - writers are the nicest people in the world, and I want to be one of them. :-)"

You can follow her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/vanyala) and ask her about following her blog which is protected.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Sophie Vs. The Monster
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 5-8)
The Pitch: The very first night that Sophie lays her head down in her brand new big girl bed, she meets a monster… who likes to rhyme. When the monster challenges Sophie to a riddle game, she must use her wits to guess the right answers. Will Sophie survive this ordeal, or end up in a monster meal? 

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 Lavanya 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!

Lavanya is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to getting started on building the ark that we are clearly going to be needing!  It's July, Mother Nature!  Enough with the flash flood warnings! :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)


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July 9, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday #141 - The Trouble With Keeping Vikings (PB) PLUS The June Pitch Pick!

Would you look at this?  It's Wednesday again!  Where does the time go?!

I miss seeing you guys on Mondays and Fridays, but it's a good thing I'm not trying to post 3 days a week right now - I'd never manage! :)

This week I have been to Massachusetts and Maine... where I STILL did not see a real live moose!  Everyone else on earth has seen a moose, but not me.  Nosirreebob!  I think they run away when they see Princess Blue Kitty approaching.  But I'm going to keep on trying!  I have spent many hours sorting through boxes of stuff that came home from college and needs to be washed and packed away for the summer - but don't be jealous - it's not as glamorous as it sounds :)  I got to visit with my daughter and son-in-law and granddaughters over 4th of July weekend, and also with my parents - lots of cookouts! Also lots of blueberry pie baking and eating :)  And today I have a school visit... well, technically it's a day care since school is out for the summer, but same idea :)  I feel pretty certain there's more, but my head is spinning from all the driving and I can't remember :)

So!  Onward!

First, it is my pleasure to announce that the winner of the May Pitch Pick is Todd!  Congratulations on an intriguing pitch, Todd!  It has already been sent to editor Erin Molta and I'm sure you will hear from her shortly!

Congratulations to all our other pitchers as well - you all did a terrific job!  Even with such a helpful and generous crew of readers as we are fortunate to have over here for Would You Read It, it takes a lot of courage to post your pitch for people to comment on.  I know I speak for everyone when I say you are very brave and committed to honing your craft and we all applaud you for it.

Let's skip merrily on to the June Pitch Pick now.

Here are the pitches:

#1 Kimberly - Sprinkles Goes To School - Picture Book (ages 4-8)
Sprinkles the Clown wants to fit in with her classmates on the first day of Kindergarten, but when her show-and-tell juggling act goes wrong, all the kids laugh at her, in a way even clowns don’t like. However, as a storm rolls in scaring all the students, Sprinkles puts her own fears aside and uses one of her true clowning skills to save the day!

#2 Katey - Dandelion Wishes - Picture Book (ages 3-7)
4 year-old Gia and her mother marvel in the changing seasons from their house on the hilltop until dandelion wishes disappear, and with them Gia’s sense of magic. She finds it again in her first experience of snow. A lyrical, share-able picture book at 578 words, Dandelion Wishes celebrates the everyday magic of nature and family.

#3 Amanda - Immortal Island - YA
Seventeen year old Aria Perin spent her life running from her mother’s demons. That is, until her mentally ill mother attempted to commit suicide. Now, Aria has awoken in the strangely familiar parallel world, Immortal Island, where life is eternal and her mother’s imaginary monsters lurk everywhere.
Her arrival has set off a chain of events that leads to the destruction of Immortal Island. The evil ruler seeks to slaughter Aria with hopes of saving her people and regaining her seat of power.
Against his mother’s command the ruler’s son, Julian, vows to protect Aria. He leads her to bargain away the life of an undiscovered sibling to cursed Muses, swim with flesh eating Sirens and cross hell to battle Nymphs of the Underworld all for the obscure hope of returning her home to safety.
As the connection between Aria, her mother and the island becomes clear, so does the true nature of the ruler and friends Aria has made. Her discovery will set both the Mortal World and the Immortal World on a path to complete annihilation. As her arrival brought catastrophe to the island, only her journey to find home can set everything right.

#4 Stacey The Bad Guys’ Breakfast - Picture Book (ages 3-7)

Brave Addie’s not afraid of the “bad guys” at bedtime. No way! But after a spooky night seeing a bear in her chair, a witch by her light switch, and a ghost eating toast—EEEEK!— Addie decides the way to a bad guy’s heart might just be through his stomach. So, she invites them over for a home-cooked breakfast. And when the troupe of bad guys shows up at her doorstep ready to eat, things can only go one of two ways.

Please vote for the pitch you think is most deserving of a read by editor Erin Molta in the poll below by Sunday July 13 at 5 PM EDT.

Many thanks!

Now, I don't know about you, but I am definitely in need of Something Chocolate!  And given the extreme heat, I think something cool and refreshing is called for...

Butterscotch ice cream sandwiched between chocolate chip cookies - YUM!
Recipe here: http://mom.me/food/8552-chocolate-chip-ice-cream-sandwich/

It is VERY hot, so if you need 2 or 3, you know, in the interest of keeping your core at a safe temperature :), please help yourselves! :)

And now that we are thusly fortified and cooled off, let's have a look at today's pitch.

It comes to us from Brandie who says, "In the library story time world I am known as Miss Brandie. At home I am mom, mama, or MAMA! Either way my life is centered around kids...and... books. After reading what has seemed like a bazillion books aloud to children, I decided that I wanted to read one of my own. Thus, my journey into the picture book writing world was born."

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Trouble With Keeping Vikings
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-6)
The Pitch: Having a horde of Vikings come stay for a visit sounds harmless enough, right? Wrong! From snot-snakes to clashing swords, the outrageous antics of these pesky Vikings seem to be never-ending. But who will come to the rescue and bring them under control?

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 Brandie 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!

Brandie is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to catching up on all the work I didn't do while I was driving around the eastern seaboard!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)


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