Would You Read It Wednesday #303 – The Punching Ballerina (PB) PLUS The September Pitch Pick!

Can it be?

Only three more days until the opening moment of HALLOWEENSIE???!!!

I cannot wait!!! – despite the fact that I have been so busy with other projects that I haven’t given even one second’s thought to my sample entry!  It’s going to be another down-to-the-wire situation, I’m afraid.

But just you guys wait until you see what the big prize is!  You’re going to keel right over!

Let’s just say, you’re going to want to put your best effort forward because this is a prize you’re going to want a real shot at!


Now that you’re DYING to know what the prize is and I’m certainly not going to tell you until Saturday morning when the contest post goes up (MWAH-HA-HA, she laughed evilly 🙂 ) let’s talk September Pitch Pick.

Please read through the pitches below, which have been revised thanks to your helpful input, and choose the one you think is best and most deserving of a read and comments by editor Erin Molta.  Then vote for your favorite in the poll by Sunday October 28 at 9PM Eastern.  I realize that Halloweensie will already be underway, so to make sure you remember to read and vote you might want to do it before the weekend!

#1 – Katie E – ENOUGH – PB ages 4-9

Elpis is an uncommon thing. With feathers sparkling, she spreads hope. Amicus and his friends play in her brilliant cascade. Until… Moros swoops in, throwing deep, deep shade. The children flee and Elpis sputters. Moros preens and gloats as gloom settles in. Elpis nearly sinks. Until… Amicus and his pals demand a return to joy. Their stubborn spirit buoys Elpis – and everyone else – because stepping up with hope is enough.


When Lou leaves his stuffed stegosaurus in the pouring rain he and his dog, Barley, set out to rescue him. Braving giant waves, outsmarting hungry alligators, and battling a monstrous T-Rex, the determined pair discover even imaginary adventures can be fun!

#3 – Lily – GARDEN BED – PB ages 2-4

In Garden Bed, a rhyming picture book targeted to ages 2-4, a parent and child tuck each vegetable in for the night, helping the child to become sleepy too. Tomato, cucumber, parsley, eggplant, kale, purple potato, lettuce, carrots and peas are lulled to sleep by the refrain: Sleep, sleep, my dear one,

  Sleep until the light,
  We’ll both tuck you in,
  And sing you goodnight. 


#4 – Sarah – NO SHOES STANLEY – PB ages 4-8 (formerly titled MARSTER SHOES)

While mostly human, like mom, Stanley has his dad’s huge Martian feet.  This wasn’t a problem when they lived on Mars, where Stanley enjoyed the feeling of being barefoot every day.  But Earth’s rules aren’t Mars’ rules, and Stanley must try to come up with a creative shoe solution for life in a new world.  Not one to follow the crowd, Stanley’s answer involves a twist.

It’s always a tough choice, but do your best!  Something Chocolate awaits as your reward 🙂


Thank you for voting!

Since Halloween is right around the corner, and this is our last WYRI before it, I wanted something Halloweenie for our Something Chocolate today.  I thought this Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Chocolate Lasagna fit the ticket pretty well 🙂

Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Chocolate Lasagna

YUM!  Doesn’t that look scrumptious?  I am totally having seconds!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Sarah whom you will remember from last month with her pitch for MARSTER SHOES who says, “I am an Optometrist, mother, and lover of the outdoors. I live in NH with my husband and two children. I love to paint in my free time, when I’m not writing.”

Find her on the web at www.sarahheturadny.com

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Punching Ballerina

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

The Pitch: KC is a boy with identity questions, who wishes to express himself via ballet.  Mom is hesitant to acquiesce, encouraging karate for self-defense instead.  After various attempts to learn ballet on his own, KC dresses as a ballerina for school, thereby inciting a group of bullies.    KC reacts in his own way, leaving the situation with new-found confidence in who he is, as well as a potential friend.

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 Sarah 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, I think we’re full for WYRI until after the holidays, but there are openings in January, so you have plenty of 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! Reserve your spot in the new year today!

Sarah is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to being struck with inspiration for a Halloweensie sample entry that will delight you all!  Failing that, I’m just hoping to write something down before I go to sleep Friday night/Saturday wee hours of the morning!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


27 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #303 – The Punching Ballerina (PB) PLUS The September Pitch Pick!

  1. sarahheturadny says:

    Susanna, thank you so much for posting my pitch on your blog. I am so excited to read what everyone will type in reply – the good, the bad, and everything in between! I might have to take a break responding to comments in order to work today, but I will do my best to get back to everyone by tomorrow! Thank you!

  2. ptnozell says:

    Susanna, you continue to amaze me finding such decadent delights! I shiver to think what’s brewing in your cauldron as the hounds howl on Blueberry Hill (feel free to add another 80 or so words for your Halloweensie).

    Sarah, I’m a maybe. I think this is a timely and important topic, but I’m concerned by the implication in your title that KC reacts to the bullying with a punch, ie, violence. You may even want to avoid the term “bully” and instead show how classmates react – teasing and taunts, perhaps, or not sitting with him at lunch time or playing at recess. I’m also confused that the pitch starts with the situation between Mom & KC, but the conflict is between KC and the “bullies.” I’d like to know more about the conflict at school and potential ways that KC deals with it, so that I can change my maybe to a yes. I hope these comments help!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      You’re on a roll with your Halloweensie words, Patricia! And I may have to take you up on adding 80 words since I have still done nothing! I have a really funny cartoon, though, that would go well with your words today. I don’t think I can post it here, but I’ll see if I can put it on FB for you or something…! Thanks so much for your insightful comments for Sarah!

  3. sarahheturadny says:

    Thank you so much for your helpful reply, PTNOZELL. First, I have a question for you: What is it about the pitch that makes you think that KC reacts to the bullies with a punch? Is it the title? (He actually doesn’t react to the bullies with a punch, but I guess my pitch is misleading somewhere…). I will tighten up my pitch by considering not using the word “bullly.” I will probably take Mom out of the pitch and instead focus on potential ways KC deals with the bullies. Thank you!

  4. matthewlasley says:

    Good morning. I too am a maybe.

    I think PT hit most of the issues on the head. I think the language of the pitch does not express the language of the story (voice), or if it does, the language of your story does not speak to the targeted reader (6-8 year old). Elevated words like acquiesce sound sophisticated, but are difficult for kids to comprehend. I would find more common language.
    As for the confusion with why anyone would think that KC might react by punching, it is in the title. Before I even read the pitch, I was a bit concerned. Not that such a title could work, but the potential for misunderstanding. Such a title might work for a biography about a boxer, but not when dealing with “bullies”.

    One other note is that I would take of the last part of the last sentence, “and a potential friend.” I would do this for two reasons. First, despite being teased, we do not see a need for a friend. Having not actually read the story, I would wonder from the pitch if this is his problem. I would leave it for a nice surprise or move the need up to when he is trying to learn ballet on his own and have someone secretly show him. Secondly, using the word “potential” does not give finality to the story (pitch) as it leaves you with a sense that if not having friends is a problem, it is not resolved; it might possibly be, but there is uncertainty.

    Good luck with the story idea and pitch.

  5. Katie Engen says:

    Maybe (not). Is he simply wanting to be a dancer or is this more of a gender or anti-bully message? I ask because I’m distracted from the plot by what seem like potential misconceptions (at least within the confines of a brief, non-illustrated pitch). The current wording makes me think about the many boys/men who dance ballet but don’t dress like ballerinas. For example, in practice ballerinas very often are on point (toe shoes) and wear a small skirt or wrap. Dancers who are male do no use toe shoes (ever) or skirts (generally).

    Also, I want to know more about how KC’s issue is resolved because:

    1. ‘Punching’ in the title seems abrupt. Is it a hint at KC’s solution? Either way, the contrast with ‘ballerina’ certainly could catch the eye of buyers/new readers.

    2. Alternatively, when I think of martial arts (beyond punches and kicks), I think of choreography and fluidity. Maybe recognizing that those aspects are integral to both dance & martial arts is part of how KC’s solution?

    In other words, which way is the story resolution headed? I just don’t get a firm hint in the pitch.

  6. authorlaurablog says:

    I’m a maybe. Please note that I have not read the previous comments so as to not be influenced; apologies if my thoughts are redundant. I like the idea of honoring a child who wants to break gender norms. The punching ballerina makes me think he’s using his karate to solve the problem but then the pitch says he “reacts in his own way” which makes me wonder.
    Boys can be ballet dancers without being ballerinas. Is his underlying desire to be a girl? That’s fine, I’m just not clear from your pitch. We had a boy in my daughter’s ballet class who wanted to be a girl and probably did become transgender when he got older but we didn’t keep in touch.
    I’m concerned about the description, “inciting a group of bullies” because that implies it is KC’s fault and in today’s world, blaming the victim is not acceptable. I think you have some good ideas going in your story but I’m not sure if my questions are answered in your pitch. What books are you using for mentor texts?
    Best of luck.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      I think it’s good you didn’t read the previous comments, Laura! That way, if you say the same thing it means more than one person is getting the same impression without being biased by other people’s comments, and that is helpful information for Sarah. Thanks so much for pitching in! 🙂

      • authorlaurablog says:

        Thank you, Susanna. That’s part of why I don’t read the other comments. I believe Neil Gaiman said: (paraphrasing here) if more than one person tells you something isn’t working, they’re right. If they tell you how to fix it, they’re wrong. I’ve considered that advice many times in the revision process.

    • sarahheturadny says:

      Laura, thanks for your replies. I am using Ballerino Nate as a comp title for now. Need others. I did not realize I unintentionally blamed KC! Will have to fix that and make other necessary adjustments. Thanks also for replying before reading the other comments. Very helpful! Sarah

      • authorlaurablog says:

        Thanks, Sarah. I’m not familiar with Ballerino Nate. I was thinking you might want to take a look at Teddy’s Favorite Toy by Christian Trimmer. I’m not sure I would have picked up on the “blaming the victim” issue except it’s been written about so much recently. Reframing it that bullies thought they could take advantage of him, but KC had his own ideas makes your MC stronger with agency to solve the problem.

  7. Corine Timmer says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I have not read any other comments. After reading the entire pitch, I have mixed feelings. Some of the words you use are advanced and a boy wanting to be a ballet dancer is not new. Having said that, I enjoy stories that redefine gender roles. It may be nice to have a girl as the main character dealing with gender equality. Another option is to change KC´s problem to something new and fresh. Personally, I would be curious to see how KC manages to turn his mother around. So you could put the focus on the mother-child relationship. I love the fact that KC is more confident at the end of the story though. That’s such an important message. Good luck!


    I Can´t wait for Halloweensie. Such fun! Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Chocolate Lasagna. Wow! That could be the title to a story 🙂

    • sarahheturadny says:

      Ummmmm, yes, thank you so much. I agree. I also think that it would be great to have a girl book with gender issues. I wonder…. will I change this one or just write another one. Perhaps KC has a sister in the background…. Anyway, thanks so much for your helpful advice! Sarah

  8. Gabi Snyder says:

    Hi Sarah — I’m intrigued by your pitch, so I’m a yes! I’m wondering if you need to mention KC’s “identity questions” in your first sentence. What if you pared it to something like, “KC longs to express himself via ballet.” And then you could show his identity questions in the rest of the pitch. I am wondering whether it’s dancing he loves or dressing like a ballerina or both. As you revise, you might clarify that and if it’s dance he loves, it might be that he dresses “as a dancer” for school. Dressing as a dancer (in tights) might result in teasing, too. If he loves dressing as a ballerina, then you might consider including something about how he loves the way he looks or feels in the tutu, etc. I hope this is helpful and good luck!

  9. Genevieve Petrillo says:

    I’m a definite yes because I read anything that has ballerinas – so there’s that… I think you can do without the words “identity questions” unless that’s truly addressed in the piece. Many dancers dance because they love to dance. No identity questions at all. Just dance. And I agree with previous commenters that if there’s no punching in the solution, then the title needs to be changed. Good luck with it!

    • sarahheturadny says:

      Thank you, Genevieve for your helpful advice and very positive attitude towards giving it! I agree that I probably don’t have to mention it at all! I honestly think I tried to put too many components of the story into the pitch and I just need to simplify it some. And change the title! Thanks!

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