Would You Read It Wednesday #342 – Mary Janes (PB) PLUS The September Pitch Winner AND The October Pitch Pick!

Boy has this week gone by in a blur!

In fact, I’m not at all sure I’m actually in this week.  I’s pretty sure I’m still in last week.

Certainly if you look at the pile of work on my desk that has yet to be done I should be in last week. . . there are many many things there that ought to be finished if it’s this week that most assuredly are not! (as anyone who is awaiting the results of the Halloweensie Contest can tell you! – SORRY!!!)

But I got to have a lovely visit with my son in sunny Brazil (where it is NOT snowing!😊) so with apologies to all of you for keeping you waiting on the things that should be finished and aren’t, I’m very glad I went!

Let’s just skip right ahead, shall we?

First, I’m happy to announce that the Winner of the September Pitch Pick  is Kim with her pitch for P.I. Goat: The Case of the Missing Bone!  Congratulations, Kim!  Your pitch is on its way to editor Erin Molta for her thoughts, which I’m sure will be along at her earliest convenience!

Congratulations to our other pitchers as well!  You all did a terrific job of putting together a pitch, bravely sharing it so you (and all of us!) could have the opportunity to evaluate and learn from it, revising your pitch based on the feedback you received, and hopefully ending up with a better, stronger pitch than you started with, even if you didn’t get the chance for Erin’s input. We are lucky to have such thoughtful, perceptive, dedicated and helpful readers to aid us in improving our pitches!  Thank you all!

And now it’s on to the October Pitch Pick!  (There will be no grass growing under anyone’s feet around here! 😊)

Please read through the revised pitches below and choose the one you think most deserving of a read and comments by editor Erin Molta, then vote for your choice in the poll below by Sunday November 24 at 9 PM Eastern.

#1 – Sri – Mighty Little Nikita (ER/PB 4-8)

Nikita’s friends call her “Little Nikita” because she is really small but Nikita does not like it a wee bit. When a huge dragonfly enters the class, it scares the jelly out of everyone, except Little Nikita. Nikita shows everyone just how brave she can be even when facing a scary insect, thus earning a new nickname that she is absolutely proud of.


#2 – Greg – Furrysaurus Rex (PB 4-8)

Amateur paleontologist Edwin spies a furry looking dinosaur roaming his neighborhood. He convinces his best friend Jennifer to help him hunt for the creature. They discover his brother in a T-Rex costume, but no dinosaur. Jennifer doubts Edwin saw a dinosaur. Edwin persists and ends up discovering something dinotastic.


#3 – Melissa – Mandy’s Magical Quest (PB 4-8)

Mandy, desperate to save her ailing grove of trees, seeks the help of the four elemental Goddesses. Led by her black crow, Bram, they journey to the far corners of the earth, battling the harsh environment. Mandy falters and is anxious to return home. If she does not complete the quest, the trees will not survive.


#4 – Natalie – The Unexpected Suitcase (MG Mystery 8-12)

When eleven-year-old Henry plummets into a dark abyss, inside a tattered suitcase, he’s unexpectedly transported to 1950s Central Park. His only route home is through the suitcase popup portal. During several journey’s, Henry grows by overcoming the fear of starting middle school and owning up about hiding the suitcase from grandma. But first, he needs to discover what’s hidden within the suitcase while helping his grandma clear out her house and keeping his secret safe.



We should probably rest after all that reading and voting.  It’s very stressful having to choose between such great alternatives.  Luckily I am here for you.  And I am thinking that Oreo Cheesecake Chocolate Cake would be a very excellent antidote to our voting-induced stress 😊

Oreo Cheesecake Chocolate Cake



Don’t you feel better?  De-stressed and fully operational?  Ready to tackle anything that comes along?

Fantastic!  Because what’s coming along is today’s pitch which comes to us from Lu –  author, former LD teacher, Santa maker, and collector of homeless artifacts.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Mary Janes

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

The Pitch: All 6 yr. old Bella wants is a pair of new shoes, not just any shoes, but red Mary Janes. On her Saturday shopping outing with her grandmother, she notices the shoes of others. There are jump-roping girls wearing Keds, ice cream eating girls in black and white saddle shoes, and well-heeled ladies at her uncle’s butcher shop. Bella’s dream comes true in an unexpected way.

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 Lu 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 February, so you have 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!

Lu is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to sharing the results of the Halloweensie Contest with you – hopefully tomorrow!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


25 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #342 – Mary Janes (PB) PLUS The September Pitch Winner AND The October Pitch Pick!

  1. eleanorannpeterson says:

    YES! I remember when I was a child and how it felt when I had to wear my sisters hand me downs. I would always look at other girls and envy what they were wearing. This said, I was wondering about the last sentence? ‘Bella’s dream comes true in an unexpected way.’
    From the pitch I can’t understand if grandma on her shopping spree promises to buy her shoes but perhaps not Mary Janes, or perhaps it wasn’t contemplated at all.Perhaps hint that grandma may buy her new shoes. Just a thought. I’m a grandma and I would probably but my GC new shoes if I could afford them.

  2. rosecappelli says:

    Yes, I would read this since it’s very reminiscent of shoes I had as a young girl (especially the saddle shoes). I think you could tighten the wording in the pitch some. For example, maybe all you need for the first line is “All Bella wants is a pair of red Mary Janes.” Then maybe hint at the conflict a bit. Does her grandmother not know her wish? Can they not afford the shoes?
    Good luck!

    • Lu Bisignano Pierro says:

      Hi Thanks for your comment Eleanor. I didn’t want to give the ending away. It is not the grandma….. Thank for your thoughts.
      Rose, it is meant to be a nostalgia piece in a way. There is not enough ( in my opinion) written for kids who can’t afford things that others have. Grandma knows, but food first, always. thank you for your critique.

  3. Nadine Poper says:

    I love Mary Janes. I wear Alegria ones all the time. Just something that popped into my mind right away was that you mentioned only girls and their shoes. This is completely up to you, but perhaps adding the shoes that boys wear also that Bella takes note of? And it reads as if there are stereotypes and a certain 50’s time period with high-heeled ladies at the butcher shop and the saddle shoes. If you meant it that way, that is the beauty of art. If you wanted to stay away from such ideals as women shopping in high-heels to make the book have a more modern feel to it, then you can address that as you see fit as the author.
    Thank you for sharing and good luck with any revisions you may make.

  4. Sarah Tobias says:

    Your pitch is making me feel very nostalgic. For me it was Saturday errands with dad and new shoes were purchased at one of two local shoes stores where they sized your feet with the metal foot measuring thing.

    I can see the illustrations being from a low point of view where we may only see the world from a 6 year olds perspective.

    I feel like I am missing the kid appeal. Why would a child want to sit down with mom or grandma and read this story again and again?

    My child-self still loves shoes. I would have been in the Keds camp. Those shoes would make me dream of jumping rope, playing hide-and seek, being outside and playing.

    I think it would help me buy into your story if I understood why Bella want these shoes. What do they make her dream of? Are those desires and dreams universal to kids today?

    I hope that is helpful.

  5. ptnozell says:

    Hi, Lu. I like the premise of your story and the fact that Bella is shopping with her grandmother. My guess is that lack of money or a belief that red Mary Janes are not the right shoes is the problem. But that’s not clear from the pitch, especially as the other shoes Bella sees & presumably admires are different. I’d suggest focusing more on what’s keeping Bella from attaining what she wants than on what she sees others wearing, as that could give better hints of the problem & how she solves it. BTW, I’m a Mary Jane lover, too! I look forward to reading your revised pitch.

  6. Genevieve Petrillo says:

    I would read this. It definitely has a vintage feel to it. Like the other commenters, I wonder why it’s an issue to get Bella the shoes she wants. Money? The purpose/practicality of the shoes? And does she have to do anything to solve this problem? Or does it just happen? (I struggle with this story component in my own writing, so I am sensitive to it…) Anyway, the story has a good concept and the illustrations will be adorable! Good luck with it!

    • Lu Bisignano Pierro says:

      Genevieve: glad you picked up on vintage. Bella is really my story growing up. I lusted for Mary Janes, but was given sturdy ties. The family is poor. shoes were resoled with tires. Yes, in the rewrite she will do more to make her wish come true! Thank you!

  7. Katie Engen says:

    LOVE how the groups are made based on shoes and relevant behaviors (not any other traits). Real & relate-able issue (I never did get my shiny orange sandals…).
    Tighten by little tweaks – e.g. possibly removing one of the ‘shoes’ phrases in first line and several pronouns (e.g. ‘her grandma’ can just be Grandma).
    Maybe a bit more at stake? Does she need these for an upcoming event?
    A bit more of a hint on the conclusion, please.

  8. matthewlasley says:

    I am a maybe. The pitch is well written and the concept is relatable, but I don’t see Bella’s journey.
    I know that her and her grandmother go around and see many kinds of shoes, but that is separate from the opening sentence. Bella has to have Mary Janes; why? Why doesn’t she want heels or saddle shoes or keds; why does it have to be Mary Janes? Is she jealous of the other people’s shoes?
    I work with first graders and a certain shoe will make them run “faster” or jump “higher” or skip “farther” or twirl “better”.
    I want to hear Bella’s journey and not their trip around town.
    And when we read a story, we expect the unexpected at the end. We look for a twist. I would like more clear conclusion.

    Good luck with your story!

  9. Megan Anderson says:

    I might read this. I would love to see more tension in the pitch. Why does she want those particular shoes? I need more of a hint about how she might resolve her problem. Personally, I’d enjoy a story that gravitated towards a theme of giving and generosity. Maybe she notices another child with shoes in terrible condition and wants to help them. When she stops focusing on herself in order to help others, the red shoes come into her possession in an unexpected way. Maybe she starts a shoe exchange at school or collects shoes to take to shelters. -OR- Maybe Grandma still refuses to buy her the shoes, but the girl ends up doing small acts of kindness around town for the people wearing those shoes and receives bits of money for her efforts. Before she realizes it, she has enough to buy the shoes herself. Whatever the heart of the story, I need to hear it more in the pitch. I love focusing on the feet and how you can glean a lot of personality just from someone’s shoes, so that’s a plus. I like exploring the grandmother-grandchild relationship. I’m curious about Grandma’s personality. Maybe a hint of that in the pitch would be nice. Is she warm and supportive? Does the girl enjoy their regular shopping day? Is Grandma crabby and negative? She’ll never buy those shoes! Or is she just another set of shoes tap tapping in step with the girl? Silently leading while the girl follows. What is the beat of the story? With feet as a topic, it would be interesting to play with the rhythm of the story and the words.

    I hope you find further inspiration and good luck fleshing out this idea!

    • Lu Bisignano Pierro says:

      Sarah, yes this is a nostalgic story. It is an #ownvoice story. Bella was me as a 6 yr. old.
      yes, I remember foot sizing! There is action in the story, that perhaps needs to make it in the pitch. Bella at the end jumps into a jump roping group singing her own song. Thank you for your thoughts!

      Matthew: Thank-you. Why do kids have an obsession with anything? Because they’re kids!
      Of course she is envious. Bella’s journey is the trip downtown. (ala On Market street).
      As a poor immigrant, the trip downtown is where America lies with all its possibilities.
      There is a twist at the end. But where do you stop without telling the whole story?

    • Lu Bisignano Pierro says:

      Megan, she wants those shoes for the same reason Dorothy wanted the ruby red slippers: they are bright and shiny and red, not the practical tie shoes best suited for Grandmas!
      Bella is among the poor. she would not have the means to help others. Yes your idea of chores is definitely a good one! Grandma is the silent partner here. There are a lot of onomatopeias in the story to suggest feet in motion!
      Thank you for your inspiration.

  10. Angie says:

    Yes, I would read this. I love the old style shoes and their names. I would like more motivation about why she so desperately wants red Mary Janes though. Fun story! Shoes are a pretty important topic in my family. Best wishes!

  11. Lu Bisignano Pierro says:

    Thank you Angie. shoes are how we walk this Earth. shoes are how we carry ourselves. We portray one thing when we are in sandals and another when we are in high heels.

  12. Lu Bisignano Pierro says:

    Thank you Angie. ShoeS are how we walk the Earth. We are different in SandalS than high heelS Mary JaneS are a way for Bella to fit into America. She iS a poor immigrant. It iS her firSt Step into our culture.

    • Megan Anderson says:

      “Mary JaneS are a way for Bella to fit into America. She iS a poor immigrant. It iS her firSt Step into our culture.” The essence of this should be in the pitch! It seems like that’s the heart of your story and it is relevant for today’s market.

  13. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    As it stands, I think I would say no, I wouldn’t read the story from this pitch. I agree with what Nadine said about the time period. It has a feel of the 1950s, and I’m not sure that’s what you’re looking for unless it’s historical fiction. And if it’s meant to be historical fiction, why is that an important part of the story? In addition, I don’t get a sense of the conflict here. No tension, other than the child wanting something. What stands between Bella and getting those shoes? Also, I’m starting to pay particular attention to the “so what?” factor that so many editors and agents are talking about. A story can be perfectly nice and well-written, but it has to stand out from all of the other submissions they’re getting. Why is your story different? What sets it apart from other stories about a child wanting something? I see now from other comments that some of these questions are answered through your responses, but those particulars need to be incorporated into your pitch, so an editor/agent understands what is at stake. I also see that this was you as a child, but is it important for the story to be set in that time period? Is anything gained from that? We have immigrant children today facing similar issues, so I’m not certain why it needs to be historical. In any case, good luck!

  14. authorlaurablog says:

    I’m a maybe. My first thought when I read this earlier today was that it’s historical fiction but there was nothing in your pitch that made the actual time period noteworthy. Does she want these shoes because everyone else has them? If the historical context is in the story, it should be in the pitch as well. I kept thinking this is the same thing as my students wanting Air Jordan’s or whatever the status athletic shoes were desired.

  15. Lu Bisignano Pierro says:

    For my mentor texts I read picture books like On Market Street and Those Shoes among others.
    They too have a nostalgic feel without being considered historical fiction. Historical fiction did not cross my mind as I wrote this, but a change in shoes could update it, though Mary Janes are still popular! She wants these shoes because it makes her more American! They are not the bulky shoes of the Old Country. Yes, you are right about shoes as a status, especially when that is one-way kids are noticed and invited to join in.

  16. Lu Pierro says:

    I had a thought this morning.( I do my best thinking in the AM) What if Bella, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz wanted red Mary Janes because it helped her to be “home” in America?

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