Would You Read It Wednesday #70 – Astrid Climbs Her Family Tree (PB) AND 2 Straight From The Editors

HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone!!!

Here are my wishes for you:  that your year is filled with health, happiness, creativity, fun, and fulfillment in every aspect of your life!  Here’s to an amazing 2013!!! 🙂

I hope everyone’s holidays were wonderful, relaxing, restorative, and full of family togetherness.

Mine were practically perfect in every way.  The only bad part is when everyone has to leave and return to normal life.  My sister and her family go back to Georgia, my kids go back to school, my husband goes back to work, and the dogs and I are left in peace and quiet with free run of the house… well wait a minute… I guess that part doesn’t sound so bad 🙂

The highlights of vacation aside from Christmas itself were spending time with all the family, ice skating, sledding (yes we got snow! :), rousing games of Taboo (totally fun  – if you haven’t played I highly recommend it! :)), and Charades (where we ended up literally rolling on the floor howling with laughter until we couldn’t breathe!), snowy winter walks with the dogs, cozy evenings by the fire… golly gee it was lovely!  There was one small incident involving a horse, a snowbank, and a fast-moving sanitation truck which resulted in my husband insisting I go to the ER for an X-ray (no it was not broken – I was totally right on that score!) and my kids referring to my hand for the rest of the vacation as “the claw” but all’s well that ends well, as Ma used to say in Little House On The Prairie 🙂  Still, if you notice that my typing is even worse than usual that’s why and you can blame it on the claw 🙂

We are not even going to discuss college applications.  Nope.  Zzzppp.  My lips are sealed.  Enough said.  Except I may have actually aged 10 years in the last three days.  But not another word.  Except why???  Why??? do they insist on leaving things of such importance to the absolute last minute???  I think it’s just to watch our hair turn gray.  But seriously, as you can see, I am not discussing it! 🙂

I must admit that, although I missed you all terribly, it was horrifyingly easy to not blog for a week!  I’m going to have to gather up my self-discipline and get back to it.  I can promise you that there will be some serious whip-cracking from the person in charge around here until order is restored!  And no fruit cup 🙂  (Bonus points to anyone who knows which movie “no fruit cup” is from :))

So anyway, due to the holidays and everyone’s busy schedules, we got a little behind on our Straight From The Editors, so today I’ve got Carrie’s from October as well as Larissa’s from November.

Carrie’s pitch was as follows:

Scooter Annie (PB ages 4-8)
Annie loves swooping and gliding on her new scooter. Nothing can stop her…except the hill at the end of her street. Now, if Annie wants to ride in the neighborhood parade, she must find a way to tackle that big hill – without getting hurt in a big way.

Erin’s comments are:

This is cute. I like Annie’s swooping and gliding but the ending is a bit of a downer. An editor would be more inclined to request it or take notice of it if were more positive. Perhaps something like –she must find a way to tackle that big hill  — and prove what a big girl she is or – and glide at the head of the parade . . .
Something that gives a reader the idea that yes, she’s afraid of the hill, but she can/will conquer it :).

Larissa’s pitch was as follows:

Dim Sum Dog – PB – ages 4-8
With business dwindling, Chang and his family fear they will have to close their dim sum stand. But with the help of a special dim sum-loving dog who entertains customers, they may save the stand after all.

Erin’s comments are:

This has potential but I think to better grab an editor’s eye you should make more clear whether the dog is theirs, or is he  a stray, and if he is, does he join their family as well as help their business out? Something that grabs their hearts right from the get-go. Perhaps something like this:
Dim Sum Dog – PB – ages 4-8With business dwindling, Chang and his family fear they will have to close their dim sum stand. But with the help of a special dim sum-loving stray dog who entertains customers, they may save the stand after all and make an addition to their family . . . .

As always, I find her thoughts so helpful and educational!

And now it’s time for our very first Would You Read It of the New Year!!!  Are you ready?  Here we go 🙂

Today’s pitch comes to us from Sidney, whom you may remember from her early reader pitch back in October for Phantom And The Boneyard.  Sidney is a former newspaper reporter and editor.  She now works for a university and writes freelance.  She is a wife and the mother of a toddler, and is enjoying dipping her toe into the great ocean of fiction!

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Astrid Climbs Her Family Tree
Age/Genre: PB (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Astrid is bored silly one Saturday. Then she discovers family photo albums. But she can’t figure out how she is related to all these people. Join Astrid as she learns how to draw a family tree, create a gravestone rubbing, build an Aztec pyramid and chase her boredom away. 

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 Sidney 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 February, so you have time to polish 🙂 for a chance for it to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Sidney is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  And I am looking forward to regaining full use of the claw 🙂

Have a great day, everyone!  And here’s to a New Year filled with our best writing ever! 🙂

P.S.  Oh, and YIKES!  I almost forgot to mention that I am guest posting on Donna Martin’s blog today to kick off her new Writerly Wisdom series (although whether I have any wisdom to share is debatable :)) so please hop over and visit if you care to – I’m sure she’d appreciate it.  And also, I am a Guest Expert (her words not mine :)) at Patricia Morrison’s virtual conference Take Your Talent To The Bank which will take place next week from January 8th-11th.  (My part is on the 11th, and I will share more info on FB, twitter and here.)

40 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #70 – Astrid Climbs Her Family Tree (PB) AND 2 Straight From The Editors

  1. delores @ thefeatherednest says:

    I would definitely read it. Anything to do with family history is a draw for me. The first few sentences of the pitch do strike me as a little sleepy though. Would it be possible to make it sound more like an adventure right from the get go?

  2. Robyn Campbell says:

    Hmmm. Claw-1, sanitation truck-0. I rode, but on a trail. Yanno?? 🙂

    We had a super time. Family stuff always makes my heart giggle. Have played Taboo. Love it. Love word guessing games. 🙂

    I would read this. (It's early. I thought it said gravestone robbing:)) But.

    Focus on the fun stuff Astrid does. Maybe cut the third sentence. I think that's a given. I agree with Delores. Talk about the adventure. Make it pop!

  3. Wendy Greenley says:

    I agree with the first two commenters. I would read it. But I would definitely ax the first sentence. It doesn't add anything to know that it's Saturday or that Astrid was bored. Start with Astrid found the photo album and to figure out how she's related she has to X, Y , Z.

    My game to recommend from the holidays is Quiddler!

  4. Sidney Schuhmann Levesque says:

    Thank you for the comments so far! Great advice. Susanna sorry to hear about your hand! Getting hurt is no fun. I'm hoping to stay at the computer all day but I need to warn you that my toddler has been sick with a stomach virus since Saturday and she's home with her daddy, and I'm at work but I haven't been feeling great since I woke up this morning. A little queasy..

  5. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Oh, gosh, Sidney! Poor you 😦 I'm fine, really, and I'd rather have a claw than stomach flu any day!!! I hope you're okay, and please please don't worry if you can't get over much to comment today. Take care of yourself! The comments will all still be here!

  6. pennyklostermann says:

    Susanna…take care of “the claw!” Ouch! Sounds painful!

    Nice post over at Donna's place!

    Sidney, your story sounds very interesting. I would read. I especially liked the part about Astrid learning to draw a family tree, create a gravestone rubbing and build an Aztec pyramid. I agree with others, that should be the focus of your pitch. It doesn't matter that it's Saturday or that she's bored. And if she is bored, you should find a a way to show, not tell.

  7. Linda Benson says:

    I think this is a unique idea for a PB and would definitely read it. I agree with Delores. The beginning is a bit sleeping. What drew me in immediately was the clever title. Why not continue with the metaphor of “climbing” the tree and make it more adventurous?

    Best of luck

  8. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Yes, I know! We are usually on trails too, but what with the snow and ice the footing was very questionable, so we chose the dirt road which goes by the kennels and is generally traffic-free… best laid plans 🙂 Thanks for your comments for Sidney 🙂

  9. Sidney Schuhmann Levesque says:

    Thanks, Linda. One of my favorite parts is the beginning of the book where after Astrid's mom shows her how to draw a family tree, she runs outside and climbs a real tree and looks at all the branches and leaves and wonders if there are family trees that big!

  10. Sidney Schuhmann Levesque says:

    Thank you, Linda, for commenting that the story is a “unique idea.” When I came up with the idea, I researched what other fiction picture books are out there to get children excited about exploring their family history and was surprised at how little there is. I found a few – maybe three or four – that were just a few pages long, very simple and said this is your mommy and this is your daddy and these are grandparents. They did not take the child on an adventure. The only other kind of children's books on family history out there are nonfiction books about how to research family history and these are thicker and not picture books.

  11. Sue Heavenrich says:

    Maybe. I like the idea, but agree with Wendy about the first sentence. What would grab my attention: It's too rainy to climb the tree, so Astrid climbs the skinny stairs into the attic. She discovers family photo albums – but who are all those people?I love the activities… and really want to know what an Aztec pyramid has to do with her family.

  12. Patricia Tilton says:

    Hope your hand reappears! Ouch!

    Yes, Sidney I would read it. I find the activities intriguing. I agree you should who more in the opening. You've been given some excellent advice by others on your pitch that will be helpful. Hope you feel better.

  13. Vivian Kirkfield says:

    Oh yes…I want that book for myself! I would definitely read it, Sidney…you have my curiosity piqued and it sounds like an awesome story.:)
    Susanna, Happy New Year…so glad you had such wonderful family time…so sorry you got hurt.:( Hope you heal quickly! We all missed you.:) I've got to go out and will try to get over to Donna's site to read your post later…I leave for Chicago tomorrow and from there to NH to visit with my kids/grandkid…hopefully, I'll have some computer access during the 10 days.

  14. Hannah Holt says:

    Susannah, I'm glad you are safe. Take care with your new claw. 🙂 Carrie, I like what you've done with your pitch (I also like Erin's
    suggestions). Nice work. Both the revised pitches sound great.

    Sidney's title captured my attention right away. I think genealogy
    is a hot topic. However, the information you included in the pitch doesn't match the excitement in the title. I think your pitch is great. It's just that with your title, I imagined a fantasy world where she could physically climb her family tree. After that image, grave rubbings and drawings didn't seem as exciting. But I love this concept. I'm sure your story is wonderful. Best wishes!

  15. Angela Brown says:

    Happy New Year's Susanna. Wishing the same great wishes back atcha. As for the would you read it, I have to admit I'd mainly read it just to find out what a graveyard rubbing is. It sounds nice and I'd read it, but that graveyard things sounds extra interesting.

  16. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thanks for your encouragement for Sidney, Vivian, and for your healing wishes – the claw gets a little better each day 🙂 Have FUN with your family!!! I hope you have a lovely, lovely, time – enjoy every minute! 🙂

  17. Sidney Schuhmann Levesque says:

    Thanks Hannah. I never thought of trying to make the story into one where Astrid actually “climbs” a family tree somehow. I might have to put my thinking cap on for that. I definitely want the story to be exciting!

  18. Sidney Schuhmann Levesque says:

    Thank you, Angela. Gravestone rubbing is when you take tracing paper, place it over a gravestone or other type of stone monument (lots of people do this at the Vietnam Wall) and use a pencil or something similar and color on top of the paper. The result is a perfect recreation of the words or pictures on the stone. It makes a nice memento or sometimes, when the stone is hard to read, the tracing helps you decipher words and numbers. It seemed like a fun project for a kid and a way to make a cemetery more fun and less spooky.

  19. Sidney Schuhmann Levesque says:

    Thank you for all the comments! They have definitely given me some things to ponder as a I shape the story pitch and the story itself.

  20. Tracy Campbell says:

    Only you could make having a fall humorous. I'm glad you're okay!
    Erin's suggestions made two great pitches even better.
    This weeks pitch sounds interesting.
    Happy New Year!

  21. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Tracy!!! You commented!!! Is there a hole in the space-time continuum or something? 🙂 Glad you found Erin's comments helpful and thanks for your comment for Sidney. Happy New Year to you too, and I hope this means that in 2013 you'll be able to comment!! 🙂 (Oh, and P.S. I didn't fall – I was hanging on to my daughter's horse to keep HER from falling! :))

  22. Tracy Campbell says:

    I just sent an affirmative yes. But not sure it went through. In case it didn't, I have a tablet now that doesn't kick me out. Yeah! 🙂

  23. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I did come through! Hurray for awesome Christmas presents! 🙂

    Tracy Campbell wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    I just sent an affirmative yes. But not sure it went through. In case it didn't, I have a tablet now that doesn't kick me out. Yeah! 🙂

    Link to comment
    IP address:

  24. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Oops, no, I was wrong. THIS one came through. The other came to my email inbox but not to the blog…

    Tracy Campbell wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    I just sent an affirmative yes. But not sure it went through. In case it didn't, I have a tablet now that doesn't kick me out. Yeah! 🙂

    Link to comment
    IP address:

  25. Sharron says:

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who was a bit put off with the first sentence. The rest was brilliant. I had a friend who did gravestone rubbings (you have to be very careful with older ones as you can damage them). I would definitely read this. I'd never thought of introducing these things to my little one so early on, but I like it!

    Erin's suggestions are always spot on. Thanks for sharing her wisdom and take care of that claw.

  26. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thanks so much for your comments for Sidney, Sharron! And glad you found Erin's thoughts helpful. As for the claw, it's better every day thank you… but I kind of like Erik's suggestion of being a super-villain, so I may have to continue calling myself The Claw 🙂

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