Would You Read It Wednesday #304 – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (PB)

Hurray!  It’s Would You Read It Wednesday!  Seems like forever since we had one, what with the Halloweensie Contest running!

Before we get to today’s pitch, I’d like to announce that there’s a new addition to my little household!  It is Princess Blue Kitty’s successor!

Apparently I have a favorite color 🙂


She is VERY beautiful! isn’t she?  But she does not have a name yet… I will entertain suggestions from the peanut gallery if anyone has one 🙂 I’m pretty sure she’s a she, but I’ve only had her for about 24 hours, so I could be wrong 🙂 She is smaller than Princess Blue, and very zippy 🙂 but she also has tremendous presence.

I think we should celebrate with Something Chocolate, don’t you?  How about some Flourless Belgian Chocolate Cake?  Look at that dense richness!  And anything with the words “Belgian Chocolate” in it has to be decadent and delicious!

Flourless Belgian Chocolate Cake

Plus it’s flourless and gluten-free, which makes it health food so we can have as much as we want guilt-free!  Dig in, my friends! 🙂

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Ciara, whom you will remember from last month’s pitch for Drop The Dragon, who says, “I am a former teacher, mother of five, and corgi lover. I love puns. I might make them on an hourly basis. And I definitely think that there should be a job where one can be a personal shopper of picture books. That’s a thing, right?”

Find her on the web at ciaraoneal.weebly.com

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 6-11)

The Pitch: An affectionate but clumsy flamingo doesn’t quite understand why her hugs are not well received by zoo patrons. But when she tries delightful disguises, daring dances, and fishy gifts, will she be able to garner the affectionate she so desperately desires?

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 Ciara 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 January, so you could start the new year out with a bang by getting your pitch up for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Ciara is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I literally can’t wait to post the Halloweensie Contest finalists tomorrow and see how the votes turn out!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


83 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #304 – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (PB)

  1. eleanorannpeterson says:

    Yes, I would read it. Flamingos are so graceful especially during mating season. I can picture your clumsy flamingo trying to make friends, puffing up her feathers and dancing. PS …garner the affection…

  2. ptnozell says:

    Ciara, I definitely would read this – sounds full of heart & humor. Not sure I’d use “garner” in a pitch, but overall, I think the pitch works. One question I have is the age range you mention, which seems quite old for a PB. Is there some STEM aspect I’m missing that makes this a picture book for an older audience?
    Susanna, congratulations & welcome to the family to the newest blue wheels. It’s early here, and I clearly haven’t had enough chocolate yet, so my only idea is Sky Pup. I’m sure you’ll think up a much more clever name with a bit more chocolate and time.

    • Ciara O'Neal says:

      I taught elementary forever so as I wrote it has elements that will appeal to older children like silly cause and effect as well as a story that is easily followed by the 6 year olds.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Thanks for your helpful thoughts for Ciara, Patricia! And for your suggestion for the new baby! I had thought about incorporating Sky, but hadn’t thought of pup – how is that?! But now that you mention chocolate, maybe I should name her after chocolate 🙂

  3. sarahheturadny says:

    Congrats on the new car with the cute name, Susanna!

    I would say “maybe,” The only thing I got stuck-up on is “received” versus “desperately desires.” Does the flamingo really want to GIVE hugs or is she craving RECEIVING them. I think one implies one thing while the other implies something different. Other than that, good pitch! I did not read any of the other comments – just got back from a trip!

  4. Kathy Mazurowski says:

    I would defiantly read this. It sounds like so much fun! I agree that garner might be an awkward word in the pitch.

  5. authorlaurablog says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! This pitch is doing everything right.
    I have a great understanding of your MC ✔️
    The stakes are clear ✔️
    You give examples of how she tries to solve the problem without giving away the ending ✔️
    The only question I have is why your age range is so high? When non-picture book people ask me about age range, I always say 3-100 because I truly believe picture books can be enjoyed at any age. 😊 If 6-11 is the age range for your book, you might want to explain why.
    Good luck with this, it sounds wonderful.

    • Ciara O'Neal says:

      Thank you for the great review of the pitch! I love the suggestion of 6-100! Can I steal that and use it in my queries? 🤪😍🤓 I will have to think on my large age range. I chose it because as an elementary teacher, I always try to choose books for my classroom library that appeal to a wide variety of kids. But this is very constructive feedback! I will think upon it!!!

      • authorlaurablog says:

        I understand because I’m a reading specialist and have taught kindergarten – 8th grade. One year the 6th grade reading teacher wasn’t working out and I worked with him for a few months. I planned lessons using picture books which he thought was ridiculous, but the kids loved it and did detailed analysis based on picture books and then wrote their own.

  6. Judy Sobanski (@jkspburg) says:

    Hi Ciara – I would definitely read this. Your character’s personality comes through and I’m curious as to how she’s going to get the attention she wants! I wondered, too, whether her goal was to “give” hugs or “receive” them. I think if you clarified that in the pitch it would help! Best of luck!

  7. matthewlasley says:

    Good morning Ciara.

    I would be a maybe. Your pitch is short, concise and well written. I like the concept of the story and think it has potential, but I feel it falls short. If I was an agent in an elevator with 10 authors, would it stand up to their pitches?

    I want a name. Starting off with “An affectionate but clumsy flamingo…” clearly tells me who we are talking about it, but makes it impersonal. By adding a name, “Janet is an affectionate but clumsy flamingo…” makes it more personable.

    “But.” Starting the second sentence with “but” is jarring to me. It is unnecessary to use it since the two sentences don’t need to be connected or you are changing your idea. It is still the same flow.

    Questions. Think of going to an ice cream shop to get mint chocolate chip ice cream and the person behind the counter asks you if you would like vanilla. You are wanting mint chocolate chip so you ask for it, but the vendor scoops up a vanilla cone, shows it to you and asks again if you want vanilla. Would you take it? Would you ask again? Would you leave?
    I would try to rewrite the last sentence without it being a question. A pitch is supposed to be short and make the reader (agent or editor) ask questions on their own. If you direct the question, you are limiting their options like the ice cream vendor.

    Good luck with this idea. I think it has potential and I can imagine the humor and mayhem.


  8. Lisa Riddiough says:

    Yes, I would definitely read it!! I agree with everything that @authorlaurablog says. Great job on this one!

    Susanna, I think you should crown Princess Kitty’s successor Queen. – as in La Reine Chat Bleu!

  9. dedradavis03 says:

    I would definitely read it! I am already seeing the flamingo wrapping his long neck and at least one long leg for a sweet hug! I would not only read it, I would also allow the hug!

  10. Debora says:

    Ciara, this sounds like a fun story, so yes, I would read it! I agree with a lot of the other commenters above–good advice. One of the things that stands out to me is your use of alliteration (which I love), but the third item in the series doesn’t make use of alliteration like the other two items. Items in a series should be parallel if at all possible. For example, you say “delightful disguises, daring dances, and fishy gifts”–I keep wanting to see the last item be something like “generous gifts” or “guppy gifts” or “generous gifts of guppies.” Also, besides referring to fish, the word “fishy” means creating doubt or suspicion, questionable. AT the end, be sure to change “affectionate” to “affection.”

    Susanna, congrats on your new wheels! How about the Midnight Madness Machine or the Navy Navigator? I’m sure you’ll think of something fun. 🙂

  11. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    I do think you have a sweet pitch, and you’ve received many good suggestions about the wording, but I’ve got a different kind of feedback that I would like to respectfully offer. In an era when we’re talking about consent for touching, and children are being taught to ask or be physical only when they know touching is OK, is the flamingo just hugging everyone willy-nilly and then finding out that those hugs were unwanted? And does the flamingo learn to ask? I bring this up because it’s front and center in my real world, and I believe it’s become more important in the publishing world as well. I know that little kids are quite affectionate and often love giving hugs, but it’s important to include the caveat that the receiver should first agree that the hug is OK. I hope I haven’t offended you by bringing this topic up. It’s only meant to raise awareness of how we, as children’s book writers, present these kinds of topics to children. A friend has a little girl who was always being hugged or kissed when she didn’t want to be by one of the boys in her preschool class. She told him so several times, and he didn’t listen. It seems like your book could possibly help this little boy learn that his clumsy attempts at connecting physically with this little girl could be achieved in other ways. But then, I don’t want to subvert your intent to make the book one that I would write. I guess I just want to increase awareness about this topic and that it could be cause for concern.

    • Ciara O'Neal says:

      Hi Jilanne,
      I am definitely not offended. I appreciate you putting it out there. I think it is so true! I am the mama of five children adopted through the foster care system. So I get it. Appropriate touch and hugs is definitely something that should be considered and I hope (And dream) that my book would inspire conversations like this. I would love if my flamingo taught this lesson! Thank you for commenting.

  12. Katie Engen says:

    Does the flamingo have a name? If so, I’d add it to the pitch. I’d also like to know a bit more about how her clumsiness interferes with her goal to get hugs. It’s clear she has some clever (reader-engaging) options & models perseverance, but I suspect her attempts don’t go smoothly – hints, please! Finally, while I don’t personally mind a question in a hook or query, there seems to be some prevailing wisdom that questions in a hook/query are not popular with many editors. I guess because it supposedly makes it easier to be dismissive by answering something like, ‘no,’ ‘obviously,’ or ‘who cares?’

    While I’m a staunch advocate for PBs for all ages – esp. older/pre-tween kids – your age range seems high for this particular story given that editors/agents want a very proscribed reader.

  13. Katie Williams says:

    Hi Ciara! I would definitely read this story, it sounds engaging and very fun! I agree with others that the age-range seems high–you typically see 0-4 or 4-8, so maybe elaborate more on that if there’s a reason.

    I like your pitch, though the actual wording seems a bit awkward in places. To me, it flows better if you actually say “aren’t” instead of “are not” in the first sentence, but that’s being super nit-picky (and maybe other would disagree with using contractions?).

    I also agree with another commenter that starting the 2nd sentence with “but” doesn’t really fit. What if you said something like “When she tries delightful disguises, daring dances, and fishy gifts, she finds out that getting attention is harder than it looks”…or whatever fits with your story, maybe with a bit more detail at the end or something to help it pop. Good luck, it sounds hilarious!

  14. Corine Timmer says:

    Hi, Ciara

    I am a maybe but could easily become a yes. I love your first sentence but the second sentence left me pondering. I am not sure you need the word “but” to start of your second sentence. I like the idea of an affectionate but clumsy main character (flamingo) who doesn’t give up but I feel something is missing. Does she have a name? Perhaps she could think about ways to overcome her clumsiness rather than covering it up with disguises, daring dances, and fishy treats? But you could have a surprise ending in mind that would answer my question? I hope this is helpful. Good luck! This story could be fun to illustrate 🙂

  15. bababloggayaga says:

    Arr, I not be adding much to they great comments you is already gotten. But I wants to say, I be reading this for sure. I loves me they flamingos and I see great opportunities for fabulous pix.

  16. Genevieve Petrillo says:

    My hugs (Mom calls them “humping.” She’s so rude sometimes.) are often misunderstood also. I feel close to this flamingo, and Mom says we WOULD definitely read this. The word affectionate needs to be changed to affection, but besides that, we love the pitch and know exactly what we’re in for. Plus, I need a disguise….

    Oh, and Susanna – a small, zippy car with lots of presence…. She should be named Cupcake of course.

    Love and licks,

  17. viviankirkfield says:

    Susanna…love the car…and love the cake. I so appreciate that it is calorie-free, because I had two pieces!
    Clara, I would definitely read your story…love your main character who wants to share the love. I do agree that 6-11 is a strange age span for a picture book that seems like it would appeal to even younger listeners. Does she get attention with any of the three things you mentioned, or is it something else that delivers what she wanted? And I agree that we should have her name in the pitch to help us connect with her.
    Penelope, an affectionate but clumsy flamingo, doesn’t understand why her hugs are not well received by zoo patrons. When delightful disguises, daring dances, and fishy gifts fail to deliver the desired results, Penelope (what does she do, without telling us exactly what she does)

  18. andiketch says:

    Yes! Cute!
    Couple thoughts-
    If flamingo has a name, I would add that to make ya feel more connected to.
    I believe you meant “affection” vs “affectionate” toward the end. And since affection was used twice, I’d consider replacing one of them.
    Also, the “But when” didn’t flow well for me at the start of the second sentence.
    I would maybe suggest something like:
    *Flamingo’s name*, a loving but clumsy flamingo, doesn’t quite understand why her hugs are not well received by zoo patrons. Will her delightful disguises, daring dances, and fishy gifts garner the affection she so desperately desires?

  19. Virginia Rinkel says:

    There are so many good tips ahead of mine, but I wonder if instead of the word “affectionate” (and don’t use the word twice in the single paragraph) could you use “loving”? Guess I think of the word affectionate as more of a ‘touching’ indication and ‘loving’ could be done without touching, through smiles, eye looks, gestures. This age range of 6-11 sounds a bit too high – maybe 4-7? I also would change the word fishy – to ‘looking for’ or something besides ‘fishy’. Is this a circular story? If so, could a hint towards this end be in here – or not? Good luck with all above to think about.

  20. Jamie Donahoe says:

    Yes, I would read it. It reminds me of the video popular this past week of the toddler who, told it was time to leave, went around and hugged everyone good bye. I love how the flamingo wants something, sets out to get it. I hope she will learn some important lessons, including of course, that not everybody wants/appreciates affection and that’s okay too, but also that there is more love in the world than hate. So I would read it to find out what happens.
    I imagine the illustrations could be lots of fun.

  21. Traci Bold says:

    Susanna, if your new beauty has a hint of purple in her, how about Princess Indigo? And thank you for the recipe. 🙂

    Ciara, I am between maybe and yes. The first sentence is what gives me pause to say maybe…I love that the flamingo is clumsy because that is opposite of what they are known for but I am hung up on zoo patrons. Why does she feel the need to hug the people who visit the zoo? Does she see other animals getting hugs? People are not supposed to touch the animals so this confuses me. My guess is that you meant to say other zoo residents? Or zoo workers?

    The second sentence does grab my attention in both wonderful and good (which are really just nit picky) ways. The good parts (not great, need work) are correcting your word ‘affectionate’ which should be ‘affection’; your word choice ‘garner’ which means to collect, gather, acquire (I think you mean something different); and asking a question which I have learned are not heeded well by editors and agents. My suggestions for garner: secure, reap. My suggestion for the question is to just change it to a statement.

    The wonderful parts are the action you include and the visuals you achieve with them using alliteration, and also the heart warming emotion you evoke. I think you should name the flamingo too. My first thought when I read your pitch was that her name is Fancy.

    Maybe this helps you:
    A floundering flamingo doesn’t quite understand why her hugs are not well received by fellow zoo (residents?) Fancy tries delightful disguises, daring dances, and fishy gifts to no avail, so she [does something remarkable] in hopes she will attain the affection she desperately desires.

    Good luck with this story! It has good bones. 🙂

  22. heavenlyhashformoms says:

    What a fun, silly character!
    I agree with the feedback…great suggestions!
    As for the car, I will throw in my two cents:
    Lady Blue
    Susie Blue
    Bluesy SUe
    Little Miss Blue (or Bluebonnet)
    Indigo lightning
    Sorry…I’m getting carried away. I should find a job naming paint colors…I may have finally found my niche!😉

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