Would You Read It Wednesday #255 – Olive Hills (PB)

Howdy folks!  Can you believe tomorrow is June???!!!

April showers bring May flowers… what do May flowers bring?  (And don’t say “pilgrims”! 🙂 )  I’m serious… are May flowers supposed to bring something June?  Maybe June bugs? (About which my mother has a dreadful story concerning what her aunt used to do to them which I will not share at this hour of the morning!)  🙂  Up on Blueberry Hill I’m afraid the answer is deer flies, but that doesn’t sound very nice!  We also get lovely things like this:


awww! 🙂

and this:


Mountain Laurel

I think everyone should say in the comments what they think May flowers bring for June!  Who knows?  There could be a story in that…!

Anyway, let’s see May out in style with Something Chocolate!  How about Mocha Chocolate Chunk Cookies today?

Mmm mmm good!!!  Perfect with a nice hot cup of coffee (or a nice cold cup of iced coffee if you happen to live somewhere where the weather is seasonable – as opposed to here where, with the exception of 2 90 degree days, we’re still keeping an eye out for frost! 🙂 )

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Cortney.  Cortney Benvenuto is a picture book writer and illustrator living with her family in Portland, Oregon. She is an active member of SCBWI and 12×12 and loves reading, writing, and illustrating.

Find her on the web at:


Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Olive Hills

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

The Pitch: Elle, a little girl struggling with ways to remember her beloved grandma chances upon Olive, a forgetful brontosaurus in search of something she cannot recall.  Together the two set out to retrace their fading steps in hopes to relive their memories before the oncoming storm washes them away.  As they comfort each other in this poignant, sweet journey of love, loss, and remembrance they discover, sometimes you have to let go to find what you’re looking for.

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 Cortney 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 pretty soon for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read by editor Erin Molta!

Cortney is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to the New Jersey SCBWI conference this weekend!  Anyone else going?

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


21 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #255 – Olive Hills (PB)

  1. Kathy Halsey says:

    May flowers bring June moons? The pitch seems a bit general. I applaud the topic of loss of a grandparent, but as a reader, I need to understand where the brontosaurus comes from, too. I know it’s fictional, but how does she meet him? I agree last line can be deleted as this is the takeaway you want the reader to have, don’t state it. Let the reader feel it. That would give you more room in the pitch for some plot details and at least one obstacle stated. ( I know there’s an impending storm, but how does that wash away their emotions?) Keep working at it!

  2. ptnozell says:

    May flowers bring all sorts of June treats in my neck of the woods: berries & peas &, if we’re lucky, some early tomatoes. Yum!

    Cortney, your pitch intrigues me & I would read your story. Like Kathy mentioned, I’m confused about the time & setting & would appreciate a few more details. While I know that dinosaurs can be in any story, many of these are humorous stories when the dino’s are interacting with kids. Your pitch sounds more serious, though. Can you add a few clues to indicate why/how Elle & Olive are together? Also, is Olive’s forgetfulness because she is older & perhaps dealing with Alzheimers?

    Good luck with this – I think we need more stories celebrating grandparent/grandchild ties & the loss of a grandparent (if you haven’t already read it, see Benji Davis’ Grandad’s Island).

  3. Wendy says:

    OOh, goody! I will be at NJ SCBWI, Susanna!! I will have a hug waiting for you.

    The pitch sounds a little bit distant, like the memories. Perhaps find a way to bring us into the action? Something like: Elle, a little girl struggling to remember her beloved grandma chances upon Olive, a forgetful brontosaurus. Together the two retrace their steps to relive their memories (and add something specific to the story here? crossing X or encountering Y) to find what they’re looking for.
    Hope this helps. Good luck!

  4. Judy Sobanski says:

    May showers bring June sunshine – hopefully!

    Cortney – Your story sounds like a sweet journey that I would love to read! A few confusing spots – “Ways to remember” seems a little vague. Is Elle trying to not feel sad when she remembers? I Is she having trouble remembering? It seems a little unclear. I was curious, also, why you said “fading” steps and not just “steps?” If they’re already fading, it makes the storm seem less of an obstacle. The way that sentence is structured, it sounds as if the storm will wash away the memories not the footprints – maybe that was your intent?

    I love this idea of a little girl and dinosaur on a journey of discovery! Best of luck!

  5. Lauri Meyers says:

    May flowers bring strawberries! But then the chipmunks eat them. I also have May blackberry flowers which I’m going to cover shortly with netting in the hopes I can actually taste one this year!
    I think the pitch sounds interesting, but maybe too much mystery. A few well placed specific words could make this great. I do get the mood of the book through the pitch which I think is great!
    See you this weekend in NJ!

  6. kathrynrammell says:

    June gloom is what we call it in CA! Lots of overcast beach days but don’t fret, by afternoon it usually blows over 🙂

    As for the pitch… I always love a good dinosaur book and how sweet to have the dinosaur help a little girl cope with loss! I think you have the foundation for a wonderful story, but I agree with the others that it’s a bit wordy and also a bit vague. The last sentence leaves me confused. What exactly are they looking for?

    Best of luck!

  7. Maria Marshall (@MariaMarshall_) says:

    Susanna, that baby deer is adorable, the cookies are deadly, and May flowers bring June berries (and Jamberries! of course 🙂 )

    Courtney, I would read this book. Is this this current time? Or prehistoric? Your last line sounds like perfect “jacket copy.” What about something like:
    Elle wanders the _____struggling to remember her beloved grandma, when she bumps into Olive, a forgetful brontosaurus searching for – something. Together they track their fading footprints before the oncoming storm washes them away. TITLE is a ____-word journey of love, loss, and learning that sometimes you have to let go. [to find what you’re looking for. – cut this?]

    This is by no means perfect. Since most most boys aren’t named Elle & you use “she” later in the sentence, I think you can cut “a little girl.” I do agree that you need to give us a bit of setting. Also as most kids 4-8 are still functioning in the moment, few can “retrace the steps.” But I think tracking footprints should work. You need the title, the word count, and just a bit less moral/preachy tone. Let the reader discover your “message” or meaning for themselves through your story. Hope this helps spur an even better pitch. Good luck! 🙂

  8. Butterfly Kisses and Silly Wishes says:

    Since I am from Massachusetts, naturally I know that Mayflowers bring Pilgrims!!!
    I would read this book as I am interested in the complex subject of grief and loss.
    Cortney, perhaps You would consider changing part of the pitch to read Elle is worried she will forget her grandma so she sets about trying to find things that will remind her. Not sure how the brontosaurus fits in? Good Luck with this manuscript!
    Gabrielle Schoeffield

  9. Cortney Benvenuto (@CortBenvenuto) says:

    Thank you all so much for the thoughtful feedback! I GREATLY APPRECIATE your time and suggestions! To answer some questions… Olive does have memory loss/dementia and Elle is trying not to forget her grandma who also suffered from memory loss/dementia. The setting is in an olive grove (the Olive Hills). Olive and Elle actually meet in Elle’s dream, but you don’t fully realize it’s a dream until the very last page/illustration when you see Elle asleep cuddling a stuffed dinosaur. Maybe I should include it’s a dream in the pitch…? I’m also illustrating the story and I’m clearly relying too much on the visuals.

    I will rework the pitch by reducing length and include setting and action! THANKS AGAIN!

    May flowers bring June Bugs 🙂

  10. Traci Bold says:


    YES! I would definitely read this book. However, I do feel this is a bit long for a pitch for a PB and when I read your comment above, I realized I was correct in my assumption that your book is about Alzheimer’s or dementia. I took it as the little girl is worried she too will become that forgetful like her grandma. I would include the dementia part in the pitch as it makes the pitch stronger.

    I love that you use the storm as what could wash away the memories. Kids can relate to that.

    I do not feel you need to include that it is a dream in the pitch. Many agents and editors do not like ‘dream’ endings so be careful as to how you work this out. I myself like it being a dream as most people work out their fears and anxieties in their sleep through dreams and if you stick with that that her self conscience was helping her conquer her fear, you should be okay.

    As for relying too much on illustrations, you will work that out when you dummy it and see what would be better shown through text that with illustrations.

    I hope to read the story on 12×12!

  11. Traci Bold says:

    Awww, that fawn is precious and the mountain laurel heavenly.
    May flowers bring HUMMINGBIRDS!!!! (I live in the upper midwest so we only get them from May through mid October.)

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