Would You Read It Wednesday #212 -Squirrelly Curly

Howdy Folks!

You’ll never guess what happened!

The sky turned blue. . .

. . . and a yellow ball of light appeared in it!

I know!  Shocking, right?

Raise your hand if you thought the sky was always gray and pouring down water!

Local authorities of all kinds including meteorologists claim this turn of events is a perfectly normal occurrence.  They assure us there’s nothing to worry about.  A giant ball of burning gas in the sky is No Problem!  But it’s been so long since anyone saw such a thing that there’s a great deal of distrust and speculation…  And seriously, can you ever really believe a meteorologist? 🙂

Nevertheless, I think we should celebrate the sunshine with Something Chocolate!  (Because let’s be honest – any excuse for chocolate will do 🙂 )  How about Chocolate Brownie and Mousse Trifle? 🙂

Who could say no to that?!

And it’s practically in a cereal bowl, which makes it breakfast by my definition 🙂

Go get a napkin.  You’re drooling on your keyboard.

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Sherry.  Sherry Howard lives with her children and two crazy dogs in Middletown, Kentucky, a stone’s throw from the beautiful horse farms Kentucky is always bragging about. During her career in education, she served as principal in one of the largest middle schools in the US; she and cat-herders share many common skills. Sherry loves to read, write, cook, and sit in the sand watching the waves when she can! That, of course, requires a trip out of state.

Find her on the web at Facebook, Sherry Hyberger Howard, and Twitter, @SherLHoward

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Squirrelly Curly

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)

The Pitch: Squirrelly Curly and his brothers need a winter home, but Curly prefers snowboarding to home building. Brothers Larry and Mo work frantically to build more nests while Curly pelts them with acorns and acts squirrelly. Nest after nest is destroyed until it’s up to Curly to provide shelter before they all become Squirrelsicles.

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 Sherry 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 Would You Read It in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in June, so you could get your pitch up for some helpful feedback pretty soon, and have a chance to have it read by editor Erin Molta!

Sherry is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to spending some quality time outside with that giant ball of burning gas 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


25 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #212 -Squirrelly Curly

  1. Iza Trapani says:

    Yes, it was so beautiful yesterday! And today too. Enjoy the sunshine, Susanna!
    The story sounds fun, and cute title! But snowboarding is mentioned in the first sentence so I expected more about that.And what does acting “squirrelly” really mean? I suggest adding more specific examples in addition to the acorn pelting and the snowboarding needs to be clarified. Also, the Three Stooges names might have a copyright, so check into that.

    • Sherry Howard says:

      Thanks, Iza! I always struggle with just how much to put I to a pitch. I researched the name issue and it seemed acceptable, but maybe not. There’s a whole story behind choosing the names, actually. The three stooges came to represent three distinct comedic personalities, and I modeled the characters in the story after the *types* they represented. Since then I’ve wondered if an ensemble cast even works well for a picture book. Thanks for your suggestions!

  2. viviankirkfield says:

    Thanks for the yummy start to my day, Susanna…I can’t believe I am the first comment…but I’ve got a cold and couldn’t fall back to sleep.

    Sherry…cute concept…it reminds me of one of my favorite stories…Frederick, by Leo Leonni…about the mouse who seems to be day dreaming and fooling around while his family gets ready for the winter…and then he saves the day as the long winter drags on. I think we need to know a bit more about how Curly rescues his family. I see you are using the names of the Three Stooges…that’s funny…although I don’t know if the kids or their parents will get it…and I’m not sure how trademarks work…perhaps theirs is expired…but I think there was a cartoon some years ago. Also, I’m not sure that ‘Squirrelly Curly’ sounds right…I guess you want to make sure the reader knows you are talking about squirrels…but ‘squirrelly’ has a particular meaning…insane, foolhardy, harebrained, crazy, silly..is that your mc? Or is he pelting them with acorns for a reason? And who is destroying the nests? Is it Curly? Or some outside antagonist? I love the visual of a snowboarding squirrel…but I’m surprised they are just building now if there is already enough snow on the ground to snowboard…and by the time the snow is on the ground, aren’t the acorns already covered up…or is Curly using their winter storehouse of food?
    Here’s an idea::

    Three squirrel brothers need a home for the winter, but while Mo and Larry build nests, Curly pelts them with acorns and dreams of snowboarding. When (who or what) destroys their nests, it’s up to Curly to (2 or 3 things he does to save the day).

    I’m thinking that somehow, his practice pitching acorns and his skill at snowboarding are doing to come into play to get rid of the antagonist as well as rebuild their home.

    • Sherry Howard says:

      Thanks, Vivian! Yes, my. MC is silly but sweet. I started the story after watching a winter storm destroy a lot of nests and seeing my squirrel buddies scramble to re-organize for a coming ice storm. Thanks for your pitch suggestion and maybe a few ideas to strengthen the story! I settled on the name Curly from watching my curly-tailed little fellows, then Larry and Mo were from my research into those comedic personalities. I’m not locked into the names, but I did some research and think it’s okay to use them. Thanks so much for your suggestions!

  3. ptnozell says:

    We have sightings of that big yellow ball here, too – caused both Orange Pups to rise way too early for this rubbing-her-eyes Mum. Wish the trifle wasn’t just on my iPad screen – looks much more yummy than any cereal hiding at the back of our cupboards.

    Sherry, your pitch brought the Three Pigs to mind, and I’m wondering whether or what the Wolf is & does & how your story will play off this classic tale – presuming I’m correct that it’s not just Curly who is playing the role. Either way, I would definitely read it to find out!

    Vivian, so sorry you were awakened early by a cold; thankfully for Sherry, it hasn’t affected your brainpower – great questions that could help Sherry revise the pitch & I like your suggested pitch language, too.

  4. Sherry Howard says:

    Thanks, PT! Yes, there’s a little three pigs re-telling element to this. Good eye! Instead of a wolf, they have bad weather and varmints “blowing” their houses down. It’s that’s ensemble element of the story that seemed to be the biggest barrier when I was workshopping this story, so Curly had to move more front and center. I’m not sure if it’s close enough to call it a re-telling, but I think maybe it is.

  5. Lynne Marie says:

    I would definitely read this and enjoyed the reference to the Three Stooges. I would want to know if the characters truly reflect their namesakes 🙂 I think the reference “the three stooges” is copyrighted not their names, but worth a look into. My comments deal with the structure — usually a main character with a problem and attempts to solve the problem, and eventual character change that leads to a solution. In this example, while Curly seems to be the main character, he is not dealing with a problem. While I understand a character flaw can create the problem, I still feel like the MC must be upfront and want _____ (something) and make attempts to get _____ (something}, even if he ends up getting something else instead. Hope this is helpful 🙂 Also, I believe John Cusick just did a great article on queries for Writing and Illustrating blog that would be helpful! Good luck!

  6. Sherry Howard says:

    Hi, Lynne Marie! Thanks for your comments! You hit the nail on the head, in a way. With an ensemble cast (think Three Little Pigs) it’s been harder to individualize a MC goal and follow an exact story structure. That’s been my struggle with pitching. I’ll check out that article. Good to see you here. I don’t think I ever posted this one in the kidlit group. Thanks for your recommendations.

    • Lynne Marie says:

      Oh, do post it, please 🙂 I think though, that even in the 3 Little Pigs, they had a unified goal, each to build a house.Perhaps the problem is that presenting them as 3 MCs with a unified goal is that Curlie does not have the same goal. Perhaps either giving them the same goal, or having one clear mc would sort that particular problem out? Enjoying chatting this out 🙂

  7. Sherry Howard says:

    I started with the three each having a district role, actually based on the three stooges personas, with Curly as the comedic lead. Instead of a completely classic three attempts, there is a rising tension as an ice storm nears. I’ll post it over in kidlit and you’ll see what I mean.

  8. Genevieve Petrillo says:

    First of all, Curly and Mo and Larry! OMG. Hilarious! So yes, I would read it. It reminds me of The Little Red Hen. Snowboarding and acting squirrely are very different, so you may want to decide how Curly slacks off when he should be working – one or the other, or if he does both, they’ll need to be connected somehow. Fun story – Great lesson. Good luck with it.

    • Sherry Howard says:

      Thanks, Genevieve. I may have a different definition of squirrelly. I consider it silly and evasive, which he is. I also like the word to define that he’s actually a squirrel in the title. And, he does both: I hope I’ve connected them in the story. I hadn’t thought of the little red hen, but you’re right: three little pigs meet little red hen maybe! Thanks for your encouragement.

  9. chattytcp says:

    Hello, Sherry!

    Yes, this story sounds like a hoot! Someone mentioned the Three Little Pigs and it does remind me of the story line but with a comedy twist – funny! Several people mentioned this too but you may also want to check the copyright on the names as well. The little ones probably won’t get the connection like us old folks do. Perhaps, a current troublemaking trio as your character names.

    Best of luck!

  10. Sherry Howard says:

    Thanks, Chattytcp! I started with Curly, and I explained above that the three stooges comedy personas inspired me. As I understand it, I’m okay to use names as long as I don’t present them as the three stooges, which I don’t. I did a lot of research about copyright and trademark when I started the story. I hope it’s both a funny and a sweet story. Thanks for your encouragement!

  11. Shari Schwarz (@sharischwarz) says:

    YES, I would read this! 🙂 I think parents would love the Larry, Moe and Curly relationship and get the references. Kids would love the cute squirrel story and eventual illustrations. I love stories with layers like this! I can’t wait to see how it develops and see it in the bookstore soon!!! xo Shari

  12. ingridboydston says:

    I may be easy to please but I laughed out loud at the Three Stooges reference. And like some of the others I thought this sounded like a fun twist on the Three Little Pigs. I’m still figuring out what agents look for so listening to the sound advice of folks like Vivian Kirkfield is probably a good idea. Would I read it? Yes, without a doubt. Good luck!
    And congrats on spring arriving in your neck of the woods Susanna! I’m in So Cal so things have been lovely for a while. However, you will have the best of the situation in the middle of the summer when temps reach 100+ here!

    • Sherry Howard says:

      Thanks, Ingrid! I asked the thirty-somethings in my life and they all liked the names, and knew the reference. I love a hidden chuckle for the adult reader. And, yes, I appreciate published, experienced authors taking the time to pay it forward. I also love that authors in the waiting room work with each other so generously!

  13. Susan Schade says:

    Yes, I would read it. I agree with the others in adding detail of what the MC does to distract his brothers instead of saying squirrelly again. (I had another thought, what if they were girls, Mary, Shirley, and Roe?)

  14. Sherry Howard says:

    Thanks, Susan. You know, I hasn’t even thought of girls for the characters. My backyard squirrels seem like such boys. I know, I know-it’s probably equal numbers. Thanks for the encouragement!

  15. ThisKidReviewsBooks says:

    I would read the book! I like the idea of it, and I agree with the suggestions beforehand, about just clearing up the minor confusion.
    Wait. The sky are blue? How come nobody ever told me? And it doesn’t always rain? Or snow? I don’t believe you!

  16. Michelle Kogan Illustration, Painting & Writing says:

    These critters always attract my attention, so yes, I would read your story. Although, the first line throws me off. While I like the idea of squirrels snowboarding, I don’t know if I’d combine the snowboarding with being Squirrelly. The name might be throwing me off too, what if the mc was Curly, and you drop the squirrelly, or vice versa. Although they rhyme they don’t work together for me. I’d also like to see the stakes/conflict more pronounced in your pitch to draw me in. All the best with your pitch and story.

    Susanna – we’ve had a few shining rays from that beautiful glowing mass too, hoping for more today and… Warmer temps too!

    • Sherry Howard says:

      Thanks, Michelle. Squirrelly seems to bother quite a few, so it may have to go! It’s not essential to the story, and seems to mean a more negative thing to many people than we use it. These are very special squirrels! ( ;

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