Would You Read It Wednesday #280 – The Littlest Astronaut (PB)

Happy Wednesday, Chickadees!

What a fun week it has been!

First, totally unexpected and out of the blue, an email arrived in my inbox with sketches for ALPHABEDTIME!  What a thrill!  It’s in the early stages yet, but looks fantastic.  Illustrator Betsy Snyder is doing a great job.  There’s even a pogo stick on page 10 (and any of you who know me know my passion for pogoing 🙂 )

Second (as if first weren’t enough!), I got to see the final art for WHEN YOUR MONKEYS WON’T GO TO BED, due out August 28!  (Apparently it’s art week and I didn’t realize it 🙂 )  Daniel Wiseman has done it again, and I can’t wait to be able to share with you!

As you all know, I cannot draw to save myself, so I feel incredibly lucky to have been paired with such amazingly talented artists who seem to know exactly the right way to bring my stories to life.  If it weren’t for them, my books would look like this:

SLH illustration style

illustration copyright SLH 20…hahaha…I can’t even say it 🙂


and nobody wins with that! 🙂

I think this calls for a celebratory Something Chocolate, don’t you?  Also, I believe I speak for all of us when I say it’s time for Second Breakfast!  I vote for Chocolate Swirl Pie!

Chocolate Swirl Pie

choc swirl pie

Recipe HERE (including helpful video!) at Twisted

Yum!  Delicious and nutritious! (Surely there must be some way in which that is nutritious… and I’m certain that if I have a second helping it will give me the brain fuel I need to figure out how 🙂 )

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Rachel who ***nervously waves*** and says, “Hello! My name is Rachel. In no particular order I am a psychologist, mother of three (to a little girl who just turned 1 and two very goofy boxer dogs), a wife, a shoe hoarder and – cosmetics/face creams aficionado!!!

How and why did I start writing Picture Books? I was minding my own business when suddenly, without warning, a children’s book popped into my head, in fact a whole series of them did. They needed to be written down, it was a compulsion, I couldn’t stop. A bit like vomit, you feel better when it’s all out (yes I just compared my writing to vomit).”

Find her on the web at:
Twitter handle – @RachLTomlinson
Blog – https://rachtomlinsonwrites.wixsite.com/rachtomlinsonwrites/blog/

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Littlest Astronaut

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-10)

The Pitch: Even before she was born Seren was destined to become an Astronaut. After all, her parents had given her a name that meant star. When she shares her dreams with others they laugh, making her feel small, just because she isn’t grown up yet. It is a tall order when a space mission is jeopardised, and no-one else can help because they are too big. Can Seren step up and save the day?

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 Rachel 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 April, so you could get your pitch up pretty soon for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Rachel is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to seeing my new books progress and getting to share the process with you!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


23 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #280 – The Littlest Astronaut (PB)

  1. Nadine Poper says:

    Susanna, congratulations on your forthcoming releases! I want to be you when I grow up 🙂 As a librarian, they are definitely on my radar. I am ashamed to say I have yet to get my hands on your 2017 releases. That will change today!

    Rachel, I would read your story. I love the name Seren and I didn’t know what it meant until now. One thing you may consider is to just add a little hint of what jeopardized the mission. Perhaps…”When a space mission is jeopardized by a cow jumping over the moon, Seren’s size may just be what saves the day.” That will eliminate the need to end with the ambiguous question. I have heard on more than one occasion that ending a pitch with a question is not always the best way. Good luck with this intriguing tale.

    • Rachel Tomlinson says:

      Thank you for the feedback!!! Yes I will think about how I can incorporate this. It’s definitely a task only she can complete due to her size. I really appreciate the thought you put into your comments and I agree about the hypothetical question. I have since tightened that for some of my pitches for #kidpit. And the name seren is welsh…. my husband is welsh and we were going to call our baby that…. and his hobby is astronomy 😊 thanks again Nadine! Have a lovely day

  2. Lynne Marie says:

    YES. I would definitely read this.I love Seren’s name. I was curious about it being a picture book for age 10, as they are actually skewing younger these days probably 3-6 or 7 but usually labelled 4-8. The pitch can definitely be tightened [[DELETE]]](((ADD))): The Pitch:[[[ Even before she was born]]] Seren was destined to become an Astronaut. After all, [[[her parents had given]]] her [[[a]]] name [[[that]]] meant star. When she shares her dreams with others they laugh, [[[making her]]] (((AND SHE))) feel(((S))) (((TOO))) small (((TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.))), [[[ just because she isn’t grown up yet. It is a tall order]]] (((W)))hen a space mission is jeopardised, and no-one else can help because they are too big. Can Seren [[[step up and]]] save the day? GOOD LUCK with your story! http://www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com

    • Rachel Tomlinson says:

      Thanks Lynne!! I upped the age range as this is a STEM picture book. The younger children will enjoy the pictures and story and for the older children there are a lot of facts and back matter about space. But I think that’s a really good point. Maybe market for the more traditional age group and let an agent/publisher decide what age range is the most appropriate. Thanks for the suggestions and I will use them to tighten my pitch! Thanks again and have a lovely day!

  3. Judy Sobanski (@jkspburg) says:

    I would definitely read this. The name Seren is lovely and intriguing! I felt one of the lines was a bit awkward – “When she shares her dreams with others they laugh, making her feel small, just because she isn’t grown up yet.” I wondered who the “others” were? Maybe something like – The others (kids? Adults?) laugh when she shares her dreams until Seren…can you hint at how the space mission is jeopardized?

    I think this will be a fun story to read. Best of luck!

    • Rachel Tomlinson says:

      Thanks Judy! That’s really helpful. And fits with other feedback. I must try to work out how I can add in some more context about how she saves the space mission! Thanks for taking the time to respond and I hope you have a lovely day!

  4. Katie Engen says:

    Maybe. Irregular spelling variations are distracting (cap. Astronaut, jeopardiSed, no-one). Some near-redundancies in the pitch (e.g. we know she didn’t grow up yet) indicate the same may exist in the narrative. The familiar theme is clear & Seren’s concerns are well-limned; the critical plot twist (or her problem to solve) could be clearer. Since there are a few other soft puns, perhaps the last line could include one in lieu of ‘step up.’ Something about launching, breaking orbit (that’s a stretch), or other verb phrase that indicates the problem she must solve.

    • Rachel Tomlinson says:

      Thanks Katie. I will correct the spellings…. but I am ata disadvantage being an Aussie…. so we do have different spellings sometimes:mom/mum and color/colour lol. But I take that point on board. And I appreciate the guidance…. I have since tweaked it to include more about why she is the one who needs to save the mission and less of the extraneous stuff you mentioned. Thanks again and have a lovely day!

  5. matthewlasley says:

    I would read it. You have an fun idea that is imaginative and could do well with the right push. Reading it as a STEM book does have me concerned that will not come across in the pitch and could hurt it one way or another. STEM is hot and that should be the focus. Include some of that language in the pitch.
    I do have two issues with the pitch, the first and last lines; which are by the way, the hardest.
    The first line implies she was destined before birth because her parents named her Seren. I know that people name their children before they are born, but it reads long and comes off as a cliche opener. I agree with other posts that eliminate the opening of that sentence: Seren was destined to be an astronaut.
    The last line is a question. When you ask a question in a pitch, you are directing the reader (agent or editor) to ask the same question; a question you want them to think on their own. You take that victory away by giving it to them.
    I suggest combining the last two sentences into something like this: “When the International Space Station is struck by space debris, Seren may be the only one who can save the astronauts trapped inside.”
    I know it is not perfect, but just some space ice-cream for thought.

    Good luck with the Pitch!

    • Rachel Tomlinson says:

      Thanks Matthew. I appreciate you taking the time to feedback. I think I like the first line….but does it service the pitch and sell the story… probably not. It’s one of those kill your darlings moments. So I’m going to think about how I can rework it or rewrite another opener. I like your suggestions about amping up the STEM influences. I will see how I can incorporate this. Thanks so much again and have a lovely day!

  6. ptnozell says:

    Rachel, I like the premise of your story & would read it. I agree with others, though, that the pitch needs some consolidation. In particular, I’d try to remove any inferences that Seren is predestined to be an astronaut because of her parents’ choice of name. I’d also like to learn more of what she wants & why, rather than others’ reactions to her. Finally, I sense from your introduction that there may be some humor in this story – I’d love to see some of that in the pitch. I hope this helps – The combination of STEM and a “little-engine-that-could” female MC is a winner!

    Susanna, I look forward to seeing your newest releases soon!

    • Rachel Tomlinson says:

      Thank you for your feedback. Yes I think there needs to be more focus on seren and her role in saving the space mission. I will try and refocus here… and I am getting a couple of comments about amping up the STEM focus. That was the whole purpose of my story…. I was my little girl and other children to see strong female rolemodels. I can see I need to up the stakes to really promote this as my message. Thanks again and have a lovely day!

  7. Maria Marshall (@MariaMarshall_) says:

    Susanna, how exciting! I look forward to seeing these new treasures.

    Rachel, I would read this. I agree with PTNOZELL, if it is humorous, try to get a tease of that in the pitch.

    Seren was destined to become an astronaut. [Just b/c her name means “star” or is she fascinated with the stars/black holes/nebulas? Is there something more than just her name that indicated she wanted to be an astronaut?] When she shares her dreams with others they laugh, making her feel small, just because she isn’t grown up yet. [Is she unusually small for her age? These days many kids declare they want to be “x” (even a cat), WHY are they making fun of her? I do not understand what about her makes the others tease. Can you make this part stronger?] When the space mission is jeopardized by [WHAT? asteroids, mechanical failure deep in the ship? Why is she even there??], only Seren can save the day.

    See if you can answer the questions in the brackets. We need just a little bit more to be totally invested in Seren’s struggle and how she saves the day. I so love the premise and wish you luck with it.

    • Rachel Tomlinson says:

      Thanks Maria, there are some really specific things I can address! They tease her because she wants to be an astronaut now…. not wait until she is an adult. But I can see that isn’t clear! And yes I agree…. I received another comment about her name and it’s importance in the story. I’m not sure it is…. I just like that sentence lol. But it seems defunct. I will most likely cut or rewrite it. Thanks again so much for your thorough feedback. I appreciate the time you have taken!! Have a lovely day

  8. bababloggayaga says:

    Arr, you gots to love they girl power! I would probably read it, but I also be thinking the pitch could be shorter. Yer main issue is that she’s too small – until she isn’t. So like a lot of other things, her weakness be her strength. You could start with “Seren wants to be an astronaut, but she’s too small. Until…”

    • Rachel Tomlinson says:

      Go the girl power! I took a look back and read your pitch (that arrr is a distinct characteristic 😊)… I love a pirate witch!!!! Also that’s for the feedback. I absolutely hear your comments about her being too small…. u til she isn’t. I haven’t been clear enough. Essentially there is a crisis on the space station which risks the lives of the astronauts… they are too big to fix it, and it will take too long to build a robot small enough to get in and fix the problem. Then seren appears…. and happens to be just the right size to get in the equipment and save the mission/astronauts. I appreciate your feedback! Thanks very much! Have a lovely day

  9. ingridboydston says:

    Thanks for the latest “ now I want chocolate-now!” craving Susanna! I may have to take up po-go-sticking to compensate. Congratulations on your recent good news, it’s always fun to hear about those experiences.
    As for The Littlest Astronaut, I love the title! It reminds me of The Littlest Angel which brings back a flood of good feelings so I would read this, yes. The other commenters have already addressed tightening, deleting the question and raising the stakes a bit, but I agree the foundation appears to be here. I’m curious about the problem only a little girl can solve. It sounds intriguing and delightful. I hope to get to read your revised pitch. Best wishes!

    • Rachel Tomlinson says:

      Thanks Ingrid! I agree about the chocolate cravings after I read Susanna’s posts!!! And thank you for your feedback… the title is always so hard… but I’m glad it resonated positively with you. And I mentioned in a reply to the previous post about why a little girl is needed to solve the problem. The grown ups are too big, and it will take them too long to build a robot small enough to fix a piece of life saving machinery on the space station…. but seren is the perfect size. I will try really hard to be more clear about this in my edited pitch. Thanks so much again and have a lovely day!

  10. fspoesy says:

    Susanna, if Chocolate Swirl Pie is brain food, than I want to be the smartest person on the planet!

    As far as the pitch goes, Rachel, you had me at “astronaut”. But I feel like the pitch needs some grounding. I don’t know if Seren is just a kid in the suburbs with big dreams or if she is somehow associated with a space program (in that she is the only small person available to save a space mission). And the more I think about it I’m not even sure if Seren is a person. Maybe she’s a mouse. So I would recommend developing Seren a little more in the pitch. I also think you could condense the pitch and weed out a lot of the background information that doesn’t directly sell the idea. Something like “Everyone laughs when little Seren shares her dream of becoming an astronaut. But during a school trip to the Space Center, Seren may just be the only one small enough, and brave enough, to save a space mission.” Obviously the school trip is pure conjecture on my part, but hopefully this gets across the idea of condensing the pitch. Good luck with your pitch and your story! I look forward to reading it some day soon!

    • Rachel Tomlinson says:

      Thank you! That’s wonderful and thoughtful feedback. I have been working on my pitch based on the feedback I have been receiving. I will really think about how I can make this pitch have higher stakes… and outline why seren is the one who needs to save the mission. I like how you have given an example of condensing the pitch…. I will consider how I can use this in my pitch (the story outlines how she is visiting a space centre to sign up for training when a crisis hits and is the only one who is small enough to save the mission). Thanks again, I appreciate you taking her time to feed this back to me! Have a lovely day!

  11. Amanda Kirkham says:

    What great feedback Rachel! I am totally cheering you on and proud of you for getting your work out there. As your CP and one who has already read your complete ms, the additional thoughts and suggestions here will only strengthen the fabulous story you have. ❤ ❤ ❤

    • Rachel Tomlinson says:

      I know!!!! The feedback is so constructive… it’s super helpful that it’s been so specific and with examples to improve. I have amended my pitch and it feels goooood lol. Thanks for your support Amanda. You should think about submitting yours too!!!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s