Would You Read It Wednesday #306 – Hive To Move (PB)

Gosh we’ve had a busy week so far, haven’t we?

First, the Holiday Contest guidelines on Sunday, then Tuesday Debut yesterday, now Would You Read It today, and we still have Perfect Picture Books on Friday!

But don’t worry.  Not every week is like this!

There won’t be any more Sunday posts…for now 🙂 … and I forgot to mention yesterday that Tuesday Debuts will be on hiatus until at least January because I don’t have any debut authors signed up until February (holler if you are one and want a January spot!)

Since I’ve worn you out this week, though, I think we should get right to Something Chocolate!  A little pick-me-up!  Or, pick-YOU-up 🙂  The holidays are coming and this is so pretty that  I think we should have some No Bake Peppermint Cheesecake (with chocolate crust and chocolate topping! YUM!). And by trying this today, you’ll have time to perfect it before making it for your family in a few weeks! (And by “perfecting” I mean, of course, making it several times and having plenty of sample slices to be sure it comes out just right! 🙂 )

No Bake Peppermint Cheesecake


Recipe HERE at YummiestFood

I think peppermint tastes better when it’s pink, don’t you?  Plus it looks so much nicer with chocolate than green peppermint does! 🙂 Please help yourselves to seconds and thirds – you’ll need your strength for helping with today’s pitch and for working on your Holiday Contest entry!!!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Sarah whom you will remember from her recent pitches for MARSTER SHOES and THE PUNCHING BALLERINA 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: Hive To Move

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

The Pitch: Betsie is a honeybee scout, who must find a home for her expanding family.  Her hive has swarmed, leaving their old home behind, and clustering on a tree branch while the scouts seek potential new homes.  Betsie must act fast, as people have noticed the swarm and summoned an exterminator.  This hybrid PB is based on Thomas Seeley’s HONEYBEE DEMOCRACY, and back matter is included.

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.  There are openings in January, so start your new year off with a bang with helpful feedback on your pitch and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Sarah is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to rummaging though the basement for my holiday candles.


That’s not precisely true.

I’m not really looking forward to the basement rummaging…

But I AM looking forward to having the candles in the windows so when I come home in the dark my little house has pretty lights that make it look festive 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


38 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #306 – Hive To Move (PB)

  1. Sarah Hetu-Radny says:

    Thank you Susanna ! And that no bake peppermint chocolate cheesecake looks fabulous !!!!! ( You’re right the peppermint looks better pink than green .). I am so looking forward to everyone’s comments …. everyone was so helpful with my other two pictures !!! Thank you 😀

  2. ptnozell says:

    Sarah, I would read this #PB, but I’m not sure what you mean by “hybrid” (but I’ll guess that it has something to do with non-fiction elements in a fiction story). I would suggest raising the tension more by deleting “is” in the first sentence, which slowed me down. I also was confused that the hive had left the old home before securing a new one; I think that the “swarming” is a clue to that, but for a non-bee person, this isn’t clear.

    Susanna, I hope you find the candles in the dark basement. Tip for next year – leave them on when you store them in January; much easier to find! I opted for blankets of tiny lights on two potted holly bushes, once I found the bushes (we need more nature-themed PBs: the garden associate in the first big-box store I visited didn’t know what a holly was!).

    • sarahheturadny says:

      Thank you, PTNOZELL, for your reply! I asked my critique group, and they said “hybrid” was the word to describe a picture book that was fiction, but based on fact, AND had back matter. But we could be wrong! What would you call it? I agree with deleting “is.” I was back-and-forth on using the word “swarming-” it is integral to the fiction part of the story, yet it is a less known word. Still undecided! Thanks! Sarah

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Sarah, Patricia! As for the candles, I did find them and they are festively gracing my front windows… except I lost one, and accidentally smashed one on the basement floor when I was getting them out, so I need a couple replacements 🙂 And someone didn’t know what holly was? What times are these! I didn’t know you could get potted holly bushes – I love the idea!

  3. Writer on the run says:

    The cheesecake looks yummy! I agree pink peppermint is more appealing than green with chocolate.
    Would I read it? Yes, I am a huge fan of bees- strange thing to say, I know, but I have taught workshops at a museum and an organic farm about bees, and they are my favorite insect. I agree with the previous comments. “ Betsie, a honeybee scout, must find a home for her expanding family”.
    Wondering what point of view the story is being told in? Does Betsie tell the story, or is it in third person? Betsie observing human behavior may be more believable if she is telling the story.
    Fact: depending on where you live ( like Illinois) you cannot call an exterminator for bees- you call a “ bee wrangler” ( not jokingl!) because they are protected, especially feral bees. Just a thought instead of an exterminator.
    I think this story could be so fascinating and definitely has potential to be part of a science curriculum on bees.

    • sarahheturadny says:

      Oh my gosh! “Bee wrangler?!” I had no idea! I will totally change exterminator to bee wrangler. And I wrote this story about bees after reading hundreds of pages about bees to help me deal with my FEAR of bees!!! I don’t mind honeybees and bumbles now, but those wasps and yellow jackets…(OH, and yes, third person)

  4. Katie Engen says:

    Yes. The problem is clearly stated and tension ramps up naturally. The second sentence conveys a lot of key info but it needs some refining. While the verb forms technically are correct, I think the ‘…clustering…’ phrase is the hitch. Can you be a bit more specific than ‘act fast?’ Is there something factual that clustering bees do to wait safely/productively/protectively or to help the scouts? Since I don’t know Honeybee Democracy I don’t know why this reference is linked to back matter; perhaps you can clarify a bit. The title is a bit of a snooze, esp. since the plot seems like it buzzes along. ‘Bee Movie’ fans (like me) could really enjoy this.

    Is hybrid PB the same as informational PB?

    • sarahheturadny says:

      Thanks for your comments, Katie. I will work on the title. I’ll consider “clustering” and “act fast,” too. As far as I know, the weird thing about when bees swarm is that they really do group out in the open and wait for the scouts (they do other things, like judge the results that the scouts bring back, but they’re not really doing anything about safety except trying to agree upon a home as quickly as possible). I originally called this an informational PB; my critique group recommended the word “hybrid.”

  5. authoraileenstewart says:

    Maybe. For some reason this description didn’t grab my attention and I like bees. Second, I think there are some missing helping verbs which slowed me down. In the second sentence there should be an “are” before the word clustering otherwise it makes little sense.

    *Her hive has swarmed and clustering on a tree branch while the scouts seek potential new homes.

    The same with the third sentence which needs the word “have” before summoned.

    *Betsie must act fast, as people have noticed the swarm and summoned an exterminator.

    Maybe start with something like – Betsie the honeybee scout and her fellow scouts must find a new home for their expanding family swarming on a branch, and they must act quickly because those pesky humans have called an exterminator.

    • sarahheturadny says:

      Oooo, very helpful advice, Aileen, thank you so much for providing so much detail! I will take all of it! (I wish I was better at grammar! I have a funny story about a student teacher and the class, NOT ME, trying to confuse her, but it’s not really funny because I never really did learn all my English in middle school-they confused me!)

  6. authorlaurablog says:

    Hi Sarah,
    I’ve been polishing a manuscript with a bee character for a while and I think one more revision and it’s ready to query. The thing I love about writing in general, and specifically picture books, is that my book is completely different from yours but would both come under the heading of STEM and bees.
    I like your pitch because there are clear stakes and an appealing MC with excellent agency. That’s a great start.
    However, based on my research for my own book and a side project I wrote for a women’s health organization, bees are basically a protected species and an exterminator would not be called. In Colorado my beekeeper friends have an organization (think of dog rescue) and they will come and remove a swarm if people want it away from their house. It’s wonderful because bees and bee preservation is essential to all living things.
    Coincidentally, I met a beekeeper in NY when I was there last month and he offered to be another resource if I had more questions. You might want to do a little more investing.

    Susanna, thank you for putting peppermint on the chocolate today. It’s something I don’t like and it’s helping me to not have breakfast dessert today. All bets are off for after lunch or dinner.

    • sarahheturadny says:

      Yes, great advice, thank you. I am going to change “exterminator” to “bee wrangler” probably! Good luck with your STEM book! Not like peppermint?! I like it with chocolate, but then again, you could pair almost anything with chocolate and I’d eat it!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Thank you for your very helpful comments for Sarah, Laura! As for the peppermint, I confess it’s not my first choice either! I chose this treat more because it was pretty than because it was my favorite flavor combination. I will eat chocolate and peppermint, because it’s still chocolate, but it’s pretty much on the bottom of my chocolate choice list 🙂

  7. Erik Dutton says:

    Overall, I like it! However: changing the exterminator (threat) to wrangler (ally, even if the bees don’t know it)… if the bees are just going to be relocated instead of killed, and they’re already out of their old hive, is there enough tension left to sustain the story as it stands? Presumably the wrangler will take them to a nice, safe bee box somewhere adjacent to plenty of pollen-producing plants. From the bees’ POV, is that actually a problem? (I guess that question hinges partly on whether the bees are anthropomorphized enough to be aware of the coming of the wrangler – and if they are, do they also know what future he represents?)

    Just my thoughts following the discussion above. I’m genuinely interested to hear how you adjust the story to accommodate this change! Please let us know. 🙂

    • sarahheturadny says:

      Thank you, Erik! I look forward to incorporating all the great advice I’ve learned over the past couple of days into both my pitch AND my manuscript. I have found putting my pitches “out there” on Susanna’s blog to be one of THE most helpful ways to improve my writing (since I started seriously pursuing writing for children early in 2017).

  8. bababloggayaga says:

    Arr matey, I be liking any story what has bees in it. We had us hives for several years until we got tired of they bees dying off every year (we got us big time mite issues!). We had 2 swarms and we called a beekeeper friend to come get them. But that be way more traumatic for they bees that if’n they finds they own place. If they wrangler not be getting they queen (which can happen) the swarm it dies out. Mayhaps they tension be in whether they finds them a new home before somebody what not be liking bees exterminates them (not everybody knows they be protected.) Hope this helps.

  9. viviankirkfield says:

    Lovely treat for us, Susanna! And yes, it’s definitely been a busy week here. I think I missed the debut author post…so I’ll have to back track to it later.
    Sarah…I love your story…how clever…a moving away/moving in story, but with bees! I’m not sure what a hybrid picture book is…I’d never heard that expression used, so I googled it and came up with this: https://writersrumpus.com/2017/03/31/picture-book-storybook-hybrid-yes/. They are describing it as a cross between a picture book and a chapter book. But on Reading Rockets, they spoke of a nonfiction book…but that post was from 2007. I guess I’d suggest that if you use a term like hybrid in your pitch, you need to make sure what it means…and perhaps, leave it out, because I’m not sure the agent/editor will have the same meaning as yours.

    You’ve gotten some really great feedback for you pitch in the above comments…this is definitely a story to pursue!

  10. Rinda Beach says:

    I would read on. Alyssa Pusey from Charlesbridge talked about using Key Words in your pitch. Here are the phrases I noticed: honeybee scout, home, expanding family, hive has swarmed, clustering on a tree branch, exterminator, back matter.

    You mentioned a title. Mentor text/comp title could apply. I’d also look at the standards for your target audience, then check to see if you’ve covered some of these in your query. I taught 2nd grade. I’d read your book because your key words told me your story will deal with the effect bees have on the environment and link to endangered animals and extinction. Good luck!

    • sarahheturadny says:

      Great! Thank you so much for the helpful comments! I’m going to google Alyssa Pusey and Charlesbridge to find that article about using keywords in the pitch! I really appreciate your highlighting what phrases popped out at you; that’s so exciting for me to see, as most were intended and (of course!) some were unintended. So it’s good to hear what is surprising to you so that when I submit my MS, I will hopefully have LESS surprises (or no surprises, ha!) – the problem is, everyone reads and interprets things differently!

  11. sarahheturadny says:

    Thank you so much for the article, Vivian! I will definitely take out hybrid. Katie suggested “informational picture book,” and I think I’ll use that one, after I google it to make sure it means what I think it means! I have received some GREAT advice on this pitch and I’m looking forward to working on my pitch and the MS hopefully this weekend!

  12. Ciara O'Neal says:

    I love the name Betsie for a bee! And as someone else said, your vocabulary was very rich.
    I will tell you I know next to nothing about bees. (Except that I am terrified of them and they go through complete metamorphosis. Thank you fifth grade science!). That being said, some of the wording lost me. I wasn’t sure what you meant by swarmed. Is that a technical term? And the word summoned felt a little too formal. Good luck!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Hi Ciara! Thanks for stopping by today to help Sarah! Betsie is a good name, isn’t it? I think it’s helpful that you don’t know much about bees and shared your reaction because it’s important for the pitch to be clear to an editor who might not know too much about bees – they can’t be experts on everything 🙂

  13. Traci Bold says:

    Susanna, perfect holiday treat for me to take to celebrations this season, THANK YOU!!!

    Sarah, I would definitely read this book based on your key words as Rinda stated above. And i would also take out ‘hybrid’. You could either describe this as a fiction pb with back matter or work on it as NF (I recommend reading Melissa Stewarts Celbrate Science Blog article to see where this story may fit: http://celebratescience.blogspot.com/2017/12/behind-books-nonfiction-family-tree.html). Our world is in danger because of the declining bee population and the misinformation about bees (and human’s fear of getting stung) so your story certainly grabbed my attention.

    I also love the MC’s voice and name. Queen Bee Betsie is on a mission and I can’t wait for it to be told to the world! Good luck with this.

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