Would You Read It Wednesday #221 – Camp Crazy Meatballs (PB)

Good Wednesday to you, folks!

Do you know why today is especially important?

Well, I’ll tell you. 🙂

It’s Harrison Ford’s birthday!

This may not seem important to you, but there was a time when (unbeknownst to Harrison) he was going to marry either me or my best friend.

Back in the last millennium when I was a teenager, my best friend and I were huge fans of the original Star Wars movies, not because of Luke Skywalker (he was my sister’s crush 🙂 ) but because of the gorgeous scoundrel, Han Solo.  The Empire Strikes Back was our favorite movie of all time.  We saw it in theaters… well… A LOT of times! 🙂  Of course, back in those days, you had to enjoy it in theaters as much as you could because there was no such thing as “coming out on video.”  We did have the record (do I sound ancient enough yet? 🙂 ) less for the music than for the many full color photos of our beloved Harrison inside the jacket, but it wasn’t the same as the big screen.  Sigh.

Han Solo

We spent the better part of most of our algebra and Latin classes experimenting with every variation of Mrs. Harrison Ford we could come up with, embellished with an embarrassing array of hearts and curlicues in the margins of our notebooks.  And in spite of the fact that we went to an all girls school that prided itself on creating free and independent feminist thinkers, it never occurred to either of us that we might keep our maiden names, and we spent many a lunch period debating which sounded better: Susanna Ford or Caroline Ford.  I think the answer to that is obvious 🙂  Really, it’s probably a good thing we all eventually leave our early teenage years behind 🙂

So I think we should celebrate Harrison’s birthday (it’s his 73rd, BTW!) with a Something Chocolate cake – a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcake!!!


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcake – Recipe HERE at The Dish by KitchMe.Com

I think we can all agree that that cupcake looks almost as delicious as Harrison!  🙂

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from PJ.  PJ McIlvaine is a screenwriter/kid lit author/journalist/writer. She’s also a co-founder and co-host of #PBPitch on Twitter. Her original Showtime movie MY HORRIBLE YEAR was nominated for a Daytime Emmy. She lives in Eastern Long Island with her family and Sasha the Psycho Cat.

Find her on the web at www.pjmcilvaine.com

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Camp Crazy Meatballs

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-6)

The Pitch: CAMP CRAZY MEATBALLS is a zany picture book about siblings Matt and Morgan. Mom insists they go to camp for a week to break their routine of TV and computer games. But this camp isn’t quite what the kids expected. First, the counselors are talking animals, and second, everything—and I mean EVERYTHING— is made out of meatballs. Even their beds! And meatballs is the only thing on the menu! At first, the kids are thrilled—what kid doesn’t like meatballs—but meatballs morning, noon and night soon drives everyone crazy. In the end, the kids dream up a clever way to solve the dilemma and develop a new appreciation for broccoli.

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 PJ 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 October, so you have a little time to polish your pitch before putting it up for helpful feedback and have a chance to have it read by editor Erin Molta!

PJ is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to finding out which movie YOU went to way too many times during your teenage years and who YOU doodled about in the margins of YOUR school notebooks! 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


28 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #221 – Camp Crazy Meatballs (PB)

  1. Maria Marshall (@MariaMarshall_) says:

    Susanna, I had a crush on Harrison Ford too. I think he has only gotten better with age. 🙂 Love the birthday cupcake – Yum.

    PJ – I would read this book. It sounds like a really hilarious book. As for the pitch, I think it is too long (can you trim it a bit, tighten it up) and ordinarily you hint at the ending. Maybe – “develop an appreciation for green foods.” Make the agent want to read the MS to find out how it ends.

    One possibility to tighten it up – “In CAMP CRAZY MEATBALLS, Mom ships (sends/packs) Matt and Morgan. off to camp for a week. Grumps turn to giggles, when the kids discover the counselors are talking animals and everything is made out of meatballs. Even their beds! At first, the kids are thrilled, but meatballs morning, noon and night soon drives everyone crazy. In the end, the kids dream up a clever way to solve their dilemma and develop a new appreciation for green foods.”

    Good luck with it. 🙂

    • Amy M. Miller says:

      There is definitely something about Harrison Ford’s gruff mannerisms – both as Han and Indiana Jones – that made 8 and 11 year old me love him.

      PJ: Hi Twitter friend! I would definitely read your book, especially if it could influence my kids to eat broccoli. It’s highly original. I think both kids and parents and teachers would have fun reading this, and I suspect it’s full of surprises . I also think kids would appreciate how unsettling it would be to have everything made of meatballs. My only constructive concern is a comparison to Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Good luck!

  2. Jen Bagan says:

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Susanna! Totally agree about Harrison Ford/Han Solo – such a handsome scoundrel! 🙂

    PJ – this is a cute premise and I’d read it. I agree with Maria that the pitch feels too long. It also seems like a LOT is going on at this camp … not sure it’s necessary to add about the talking animal counselors. The meatballs seems to be the hook, so I’d just focus on that for the pitch.

    You also mention mom wanting them to break their TV/computer habit so that’s why she’s sending them to camp. But then it also seems like they might not be the best eaters in the world? I’d try to tie in something about their “real life” and the camp so there is a connection at the end with their finding a new appreciation for broccoli. I’d leave out the TV bit entirely.

    I like the suggestion above but think it can be tightened even more. Something like … In CAMP CRAZY MEATBALLS, Matt and Morgan find themselves at a summer camp where everything is made of meatballs. Their delight soon turns to frustration but the clever kids find a way out of the meatball madness and even develop a new appreciation for broccoli.

    Good luck!

  3. kathalsey says:

    Susanna, such sweetness, Harrison Ford and cupcakes. I was smitten w/Hans, too, back in the day. First, I know the wonderful Pj via FB groups and PBPitch! She give so much to our community! Now to the pitch, food stories are always appreciated. I agree the plot via the pitch meanders, keep it to on topic – the tv/computer connection or the food connection. Let the illustrator decide if they’re animals or not. Just a thought, Pj, could one of the MCs begin to like meatballs, and there could be a conflict between Matt & Morgan? I do like the way Jen rephrased it. Goo duck. And there could be a meatball recipe in the back matter!

  4. ptnozell says:

    The cupcakes look out-of-this-world fabulous! You’ll be happy to learn that vinyl is on the comeback – of course after we sold my husband’s fabulous collection several years ago – for a song!

    PJ, This PB sounds hilarious, but I’d agree with others about tightening the pitch. I’d suggest to not start with “zany”, as that should come through from the pitch. I also was thrown a bit by the TV & computer games, as that may not resonate with a target audience starting with 3 year olds (I hope!). Final question is who is the MC & whether there is any sibling rivalry at issue. If there is any sibling rivalry involved, I’d try to highlight that in some way.

    Good luck with this – sounds like a yummy tale!

  5. Sherry Howard says:

    Susanna, you took me down memory lane, even with the Latin classes references. I never expected my four years of Latin would help me like they have: every word was critical in translations, just like in writing.

    And, PJ, hello! I also know PJ from some on-line stuff. I love the concept and would definitely read this book. You’ve already gotten some good suggestions to narrow the focus a tad. There’s a lot going on that kids would love to read about with camp adventures and meatballs!

  6. nicole snitselaar says:

    No I would not read a book all about meatballs… 😉 Think of the illustrations ! meat ball tables chairs beds, dishes… berk ! My first reaction was feeling sick ! 😉
    But… met ball at every meals… that would be more easy to draw !
    And after 5 days of meat balls I sure would be ready for anything else the meatballs !
    It must be a fun story !

  7. Robyn Campbell says:

    Oh man. I had this long comment of 4 paragraphs written, and my battery died. Par for the course of my life these days. *sigh* I explained why I haven’t made it by, Sus. But it was so depressing that maybe my computer decided it needed to die from the utter wretchedness of it all.

    Pj, I love your meatball story, but the pitch needs trimming (114 words) which is why you’re here. Righto? (I said that in my most elegant British accent.) And I’m not British so you can imagine. *snort* And isn’t meatballs their favorite food? If you add favorite does that immediately show some tension at suddenly having meatballs everywhere?

    You don’t need Mom in the pitch. And you don’t need the part about computer and TV or the list of meatballish things they see at camp. Concentrate and center in on the tension the kids feel at seeing everything meatballs. That’s where your pitch is.

  8. Judy Sobanski says:

    Susanna – That chocolate chip cupcake is to die for! And Harrison Ford, too! Loved him as Indiana Jones!

    PJ -I love your story premise. I agree with other comments about shortening up the pitch a bit. I think the “Crazy” in your title would tip of an agent/editor as to the humor that will ensue without you stating that it’s “zany.” Good Luck!!

  9. Rene` Diane Aube says:

    Hi Susanna and PJ! It’s great to be getting back in the groove after a big dose of life! Talk about zany! :/

    Hans Solo…*SIGH*…and I loved his pet, Chewbacca, too. And the cupcakes we are having
    to celebrate Harrison’s birthday are almost as delicious as he.

    PJ, I would definitely read CAMP CRAZY MEATBALLS. It sounds fun and like the kids have a lot to learn. I wonder, though, if Mom is sending them there to get them away from the computer and television, should they be learning better ways to spend their time? It seems like their education is more about food at the end of your pitch and doesn’t have much to do with why mom sent them to camp in the first place.

    Yesterday I read an article here; http://www.book-editing.com/editing-articles/garner-query-letter-basics.html I especially liked the analysis on synopsis writing. Hope the link is helpful as you work out your pitch 🙂

  10. Sydney O'Neill says:

    PJ, this sounds like a fun story. I’d love to read it! I do agree with the others about tightening the pitch. Saying they ‘resist being sent to camp until . . .’ could retain the sense of conflict in your opening if that’s important to you (and I see why it might be).

  11. Melissa Rutigliano says:

    I am hesitant on this. I feel a little bit like it does not know what it wants to be. The pitch needs some tightening up. Find ways to omit “first” and “second”. And you do a nice job of setting up the story, but try to figure out a way to not tell the ending so blantantly, but perhaps something like “and they discover that perhaps broccoli is not so bad”. Good luck! Eager to see your revision.

  12. viviankirkfield says:

    Harrison Ford for President!!! Remember him in Air Force One? I am there with you, Susanna…he is definitely one of my most favorite actors.

    PJ, I LOVE your story concept! And I think kids will love it too…meatballs, camp, and animal counselors!
    I agree with the others…I think the pitch could do with a bit of tightening. Here’s a thought…hope it is helpful.

    A week with talking animals counselors at Camp Crazy Meatballs sounds like a great way to break the routine of TV and computer games. But when Matt and Morgan discover they will be eating meatballs morning, noon and night, the siblings must find a way to put something else on the menu.

  13. jsamaltmann (@Jsamaltmann) says:

    Agree with all the above comments that Harrison Ford is a total dream 🙂

    PJ, I love the idea, and can already see the illustrations. However, as others have suggested, I do think it needs a little tightening. Both Vivian and Jen gave great pitch ideas while narrowing in on the main theme or idea. Good luck!

  14. Diane Tulloch says:

    Oh Harrison Ford, I’d have him any day – I mean, watch him any day! *blush* Air Force One and Indiana Jones *swoon*

    PJ, I love your story. Sounds adorable. Parents and kids alike will love it. I agree with the others about shortening your pitch. Love especially Maria and Jen’s examples.

  15. Angela Brown says:

    YAY! Comments are cooperating with me today.

    Harrison Ford. No words really…just Han Solo. YEP!

    Love that cupcake. You made a fabulous choice on the treat for his birthday.

    Yes, I would read today’s pitch. I love meatballs and would be intrigued to see how broccoli comes into play.

  16. Traci Bold (@1967BoldWriter) says:

    The very last sentence cinched it for me PJ and Susanna! It made me laugh and think at the same time. I cannot wait to read this book. That said, the talking animal counselors threw me. Is it integral to the story that they are talking animals? If not, leave it up to the illustrator to figure out unless you are also the illustrator and then I still feel that is a necessary part to put into the pitch. By cutting this out, you shorten it as well which is good.

  17. Pam Miller says:

    Susanna, Love the cupcake. YUM! And Harrison Ford starred in the best train wreck movie ever-“The Fugitive.” I’ve actually watched in more times than “Gone with the Wind.”

    I would READ IT! I’d want to know how you got “an appreciation of green food.” Must have injected it into the meatballs. Hmm.

    Yes, PJ, shorten the pitch but leave in some snappy language:
    In CAMP CRAZY MEATBALLS, Mom ships Matt & Morgan to camp for a week without TV and computer, but grumps turn to giggles when the kids find EVERYTHING is made out of meatballs – everything. Meatballs aren’t loved forever, and the solution dreamed up by the kids includes an appreciation for green food never eaten before.

  18. Susan Schade says:

    Yes, I would read it! I agree with the others to shorten the pitch and focus on the strengths of the story. (You don’t need to tell the reader that it is zany, or the other details like the counselors or why their mom sent them.) Everyone had good suggestions. Good luck!

  19. paulinetso says:

    I think it is a great, funny idea, but (and I seem to be alone on this), I’m also thinking it may be for a somewhat older audience than 3-6? Especially since this sounds like an overnight camp (meatballs morning, noon, and night). Kids 6-8 feels like audience who “get it” more. What do others think?

  20. ThisKidReviewsBooks says:

    I like Harrison Ford because he’s got the grumpy, get-down-to-business, no-nonsense sort of humorous character. 🙂
    I think the commenters summed up the pitch pretty well – the TV and computers threw me off too. If you plan on taking the meatball/veggie aspect, try looking at “Jellybeans Morning, Noon and Night” by Maggie Pajak – it is a similar message. 🙂

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