Would You Read It Wednesday #266 – Gus’s Big Idea (PB)

Good 6-Days-Until-Halloween-Morning-But-Only-2-Days-Until-Halloweensie-Morning, Darlings! (not that we’re counting down or anything! 🙂 )

I’m sure you were wondering, so let me just say that 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are grown in the United States each year, and the Top 5 Pumpkin Producing States are (get ready!…and hold your breath to see if you live in one of them!) Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California!


The Largest Pumpkin Ever weighed in at 1,502 pounds!!! on October 7, 2006, grown by Ron Wallace of Greene, Rhode Island, even though Rhode Island is not a Top 5 Pumpkin Growing State.

The Largest Pumpkin PIE Ever was baked in New Bremen, Ohio in 2010 and was 20 feet in diameter and weighed 3,699 pounds!  Here’s the recipe in case you need to whip up a little pie for your family 🙂  1,212 lbs of canned pumpkin, 2,796 eggs (233 dozen), 109 gallons of evaporated milk, 525 pounds of sugar, 7 pounds of salt and 14.5 pounds of cinnamon!!!


The Most-Lit-Jack-OLanterns-On-Display were at Let It Shine in New Hampshire (which also didn’t make the Top 5 List yet still manages to hold up its little pumpkiny head 🙂 ) with 30,581 on October 19, 2013.

Pumpkin Festival

So!  Have I given you all a picture book story starter for the day?  Maybe a little inspiration for Halloweensie?! 🙂

Before you’re off and writing, have a snack and give your two cents on today’s Would You Read It 🙂

Since Halloween is almost upon us, for today’s Something Chocolate I have something really fun!  Kid-Friendly Easy Halloween Pops – Spider, Skeleton, Frankenstein, and Monster!  (Made out of Oreos – YUM!)

Kid-Friendly Easy Halloween Pops

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 11.56.17 AM

Full printable recipes and video tutorial HERE on Chelsea’s Messy Apron


Have fun munching on those! (and also making them with your kids! 🙂 )

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Laura who says, “I’m a reading specialist and environmental educator who lived in Chicago, IL until moving to the Rocky Mountains in 2016. I can be followed (are you following me?) @ljrwritenow on Twitter and my blog is APictureASongALiteraryquote.wordpress.com where I write about a variety of things that inspire me including nature, dogs, being a Cubs fan, my adventures in travel and gardening, and my writing.” [Please note that Laura once lived in a Top 5 Pumpkin Producing State but left of her own free will 🙂 ]

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Gus’s Big Idea

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-9)

The Pitch:  What happens one morning when Gus tells his big sister Aliana that he wants to be in charge for the day? Using his imagination, he and Aliana find magic in the clouds near their Rocky Mountain home. When they tell Mom about it, she helps them create a cloud at home. Easy to follow hands on science project included.

This book is part of a series highlighting a kickass girl who uses creativity and curiosity about science to teach her brother, test her parents’ patience and make the world a better place.

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 Laura 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.  At this point, we’re looking into January for new pitches, so you have a little time to polish your pitch before putting it up for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta! But reserve your space now – they go like hotcakes at the start of the new writing year! 🙂

Laura is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to Book Club tonight!  Our book for the month was A Man Called Ove (which, if you’re wondering, is pronounce ooh-va – who’d a thought?!) and as of the writing of this post I haven’t quite finished it but I have to say I really like it!  The writer has a real way with language and humor, and is a master at evoking an emotional response as you read.  I recommend it (with the warning that you may have to soldier through the beginning a little but it’s worth it! 🙂 )

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


27 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #266 – Gus’s Big Idea (PB)

  1. ingridboydston says:

    Hey! I’m usually the last to comment not the first. That’s kind of fun, as are all the pumpkin facts. Thanks Susanna, I will work them into my lessons today. The kids will get a kick out of those. 🙂 Hi Laura! I’m from the Rocky Mountain state but grew up outside of Chicago! Now however, I reside in western most pumpkiny state so our paths may not cross after all. I LOVE the blurb about the series, though I’d find a different word to describe Aliana. Some parents may quit reading there. And since the series appears to be about her, you might consider highlighting Aliana in the title. As it stands I thought the focus was on Gus. I’ve heard to stay away from using questions in the pitch as well. Sounds like a great foundation for a terrific fiction/stem book! Best wishes!

    • authorlaurablog says:

      Thanks, Ingrid. All good feedback. The first book in the series is “Aliana Reaches for the Moon” and this one let’s the little brother take center stage. They are all stand alone stories, so from the reader’s perspective, the order doesn’t matter. I wanted to have one book from his perspective because, little siblings deserve attention too. 😉 Yes, I’m a little sister.

  2. macjam47 says:

    I am from the great pumpkin state of OHIO, and of course, I love anything pumpkin. Laura, what a fantastic sounding book and, of course, I would read it with my granddaughters. How much fun reading and eating pumpkin pie!

  3. Wendy says:

    Hi Laura – I love science-y books, so this one would pique my interest. I wonder if you can rewrite the pitch so that it doesn’t seem like Mom is solving the problem? I’m not getting a good picture of Aliana, and since she’s your MC maybe there’s a way to give her more ink (even if the younger bro is a major player in this one, I’m assuming it’s still Aliana’s book?). Good luck!

    • authorlaurablog says:

      Thank you Wendy! I will reword the pitch so it doesn’t sound like the mom is solving a problem. After Gus and Aliana share their creativity, their mom offers and easy science experiment. It involves a match so I guess I was only trying to make it clear that a parent needs to part of it. That’s not really necessary in the pitch. 😊

  4. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Hello!! Hello!! Hello!!! I’m grew up a few miles from the world’s largest pumpkin processing plant in Morton, Illinois. It was owned by Libby’s and is now Nestle’s, I believe. I took my young son there to watch them dump the semi-trailers filled with pumpkins into the giant wash bin a few years ago. They lift the entire semi up on an incline ramp. He loved it. They also hold the Morton Pumpkin Festival each year, and the now famous pumpkin chucking competition, although I don’t know whether they still do that after someone chucked one over a mile.

    I’ve got a couple of comments about the pitch. I’m all for anything science-y.

    1) At the Rutgers One-on-One agent/editor panel this past weekend, they emphasized that your pitch shouldn’t mention that you’ve got a series until you’ve got interest in the first book. Apparently, they get a lot of people who haven’t sold the first book and have already written nine or ten more. They want to see the quality in the first one before they look any further.
    2) I don’t get a sense of how the plot unfolds or if there will be any tension that keeps the reader turning the pages. Generally, it’s understood that kids use their imagination to create things, so that may be redundant. It also would be great to understand what you mean by “find magic in the clouds.” That’s a little unclear. And I agree with another reader who said that he should be the one who figures out how to make clouds (especially since it’s Gus’s big idea) and shows his sister how to do it. But I’m very unclear about what’s at stake in this story. Good luck!

    • authorlaurablog says:

      Thank you Jilanne, the stakes are that Gus says he wants to be in charge but he doesn’t have a plan so when Aliana agrees to let him take charge, he has to prove he is up to the challenge. They spend the morning being imaginative and enjoying the beauty of nature (a theme I am very committed to) and then with mom’s help and backmatter in the book, they do a science experiment which requires adult supervision.

  5. Robyn Campbell says:

    I would read it maybe. I wonder about the problem. It doesn’t seem like too much of one. If there is one, then please share that in the pitch. How does being in charge for the day suddenly turn into clouds? Not sure I understand. Is it about the brother? Or her? I think the brother should be the subject of the pitch IF the story features him. Maybe use some sciency verbs to describe. Best of luck with this.

    • authorlaurablog says:

      Thanks, he doesn’t have a plan which is the problem but he uses his observation skills (thanks for the suggestion to use sciency language) to come up with one when he notices the interesting shapes in the clouds.

  6. kathalsey says:

    I”m friends w/ Jilanne (comment above) and I agree w/her comment re: lack of tension and leave out the series part. If they are all standalone, don’t hint at the series. Wait until you’re agented and then speak to the series idea.And, I’d like the kids to make the clouds w/mom. Perhaps there can be a mishap in the cloud-making to add tension? And put the actual cloud-making in as back matter. Also, look at the science/MC girl series LUCY’S LAB. Best of luck – great concept.

    • authorlaurablog says:

      Thanks, Kath.
      The cloud making is back matter. I didn’t include it in the action of the story, but maybe I should. This book is more magical and sweet than tension-based. I’m not sure if that is marketable.

  7. Corine Timmer says:

    I am drawn to your blurb more than your pitch but love the cloud creation element. I agree with some of the previous comments. Aliana sounds like the main character. Perhaps she should be upset when her brother wants to take over? That could be a problem? However, they could find a solution together that is greater than the sum of their parts. Personally, I am not sure if the mother needs to have a big role in the story. Is it because creating clouds needs an adult? I would love to find out. Good luck!

    • authorlaurablog says:

      Thank you Corine! Yes, she is upset that her brother wants to be in charge because he’s implying that she is bossy. Also, the way he comes up with his idea is based on the fact that she has taught him things in the past so she is proud of him. The mom is only in the last 2 pages of the story when they tell her about the clouds and then she asks if they want to do an experiment that requires adult supervision.

  8. Gregory E Bray says:

    I would read this. My son loves science and would love this as well. I agree with Wendy above about having Aliana solve the problem. I think one of Aliana’s next experiment’s should involve pumpkins. =) Good luck!

  9. Rene` Diane Aube says:

    Hi Laura and Susanna, sorry to be later to the party :/ I would read your book as I, too, am a little sister! I love that Gus is going to have a day to be in charge. After learning through the above comments that Aliana is the MC, I suggest your opening line to your pitch could be changed to something like “Aliana’s little brother, Gus, wants to be in charge today.” This would give the reader immediate tension since everyone knows that older siblings do NOT like younger ones to be in charge of a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g. Then, maybe make the rest of you pitch a hint at what is going to happen without telling so much. Somehow, Gus and Aliana have to figure out how to make the cloud and mess it up really bad and resolve it, too. Maybe Mom can take a back seat? The details of the science experiment can be shared when interest is shown, too. There’s a long way to go before the actual experiment will be revealed. Best wishes!

    And thanks for all the fun pumpkin facts, Susanna 🙂

    • authorlaurablog says:

      Perfect idea to pitch it with the tension of big sister/little brother conflict; thank you! The majority of the book is Aliana and Gus and the mom only appears in the last 2 pages when they tell her about watching clouds and she asks if they want to do an experiment. The details of the experiment are back matter but I could add it to the story.

  10. candicemarleyconner says:

    Laura, you had me at curiosity about science, creativity, and imagination. I would definitely read this with my kids. I have a bossy–I mean thriving leadership skillset–6 yo daughter and a would-love-to-be-in-charge-one-day 4 yo son so they could really relate to this. That being said, when I read your pitch I didn’t know how your first sentence went with the rest until I read your response on one of the comments. Perhaps adjusting the pitch so it only pitches this specific book would flow better. The series as a whole sounds AMAZING (are any of them out yet?) but without you explaining what you’re doing and why, it doesn’t make sense, and I would worry it might put an agent or publisher off. Best of luck and now I’m going to follow you on twitter so I’ll know when these awesome books hit the shelves…

  11. authorlaurablog says:

    Thank you Candice,
    I love your description of your children and they sound quite similar to Aliana and Gus. I have a publisher interested for the first book which I am hoping will be out in 2018 but the timeline for things is always longer than expected. I am working with an illustrator now and will be thrilled to announce details when I have them.
    I have focused on writing the books (and more revisions than I can count) and find the pitching part to be a different skill set which needs work. I appreciate your feedback (as well as everyone above) on how to improve the pitch to match the book.
    Also, thank you for following me on Twitter. 🙂

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