Happy New Year, Everyone!
I hope you all had wonderful holidays and are ready to start the new year full of energy and enthusiasm!
Looking to kickstart your writing?
Join Tara Lazar’s Storystorm and fire up with a picture book idea each day for the month of January!
Need some new resources for writing, creativity, tips and techniques, etc?
Check out the Top 100 Writing Blogs and Websites for Authors in 2020 (which includes some of my personal favorites including KidLit411!) and find some new helpful blogs, websites, and writing communities.
Need a challenge or two to motivate you?
Look for upcoming contests including the Valentiny Writing Contest here on this blog in early February, and hopefully Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Words Contest in March (last year’s link) and Kaitlyn Sanchez and Ciara O’Neal’s Spring Fling in April (last year’s link)
Or join Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Group and try to write a new picture book each month for the whole year!
Look for craft webinars hosted by groups like Picture Book Summit, Kids Book Revisions and others – many webinars are free or reasonably priced.
Perhaps you’d like to go larger and look ahead to an SCBWI Conference, either one of the big ones in New York or LA, or a more regional one – they’re all good!
Or sign up for an online writing course to learn new skills, brush up on old ones, look at things from a new perspective, or just get yourself in gear! Making Picture Book Magic is available right here, but there are lots of other great options including the Institute of Children’s Literature courses, Renee LaTulippe’s Lyrical Language Lab, Emma Walton Hamilton’s Just Write For Kids, Alayne Christian’s Art of Arc course, Ari Chung’s Storyteller Academy, and many more!
And of course you can always hang out here for Tuesday Debuts to learn details of how others in your field are getting published, Would You Read It Wednesdays to practice your pitches, Perfect Picture Books for examples of great writing in every area of children’s picture books, writing contests, and whatever other high jinks and shenanigans I may decide to get up to around here 🙂 Who knows? This could finally be the year I start that newsletter or write that new course I’ve been intending to get to for the last a-hem years! 🙂 One never knows! It could happen! 🙂
Wow! So much great stuff to get you up and writing!
How about Something Chocolate to spur you along even more? Nothing like a few Easy Boston Cream Pie Cookie Bites to get your creative motor revving!
Easy Boston Cream Pie Cookie Bites
Easy and delicious! Just the thing for a Wednesday morning breakfast and creativity fuel-up! 🙂
Now then, let’s get started on this new year of writing success with today’s pitch which comes to us from Sarah who is a retired librarian, a member of SCBWI and Storyteller Academy. She has fallen in love with Highlights Foundation Workshops and will attend two this year. Sarah is drawn to characters and stories where friendship has no bounds. She has a sister with developmental disabilities and this has helped her to see and encourage the abilities in others.
Find her on the web at
Here is her pitch:
Working Title: Wheels And Waddles
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Like the unlikely friendships of Jim Averbeck’s Trevor and Marianne DuBuc’s The Lion and the Bird, Wheels, a toy duck, and Waddles, a real duck become friends. Together their summer is filled with adventure as Waddles quacks and takes the lead. Wheels Clickety tickety, follows along. When fall arrives Waddles must migrate. Though he tries to take Wheels with him, Waddles realizes must leave Wheels behind. As always, Wheels waits for spring and Waddles.
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 February, 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!
Sarah is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch! I am looking forward to seeing what writing wonders 2020 will bring! Hopefully good things for all of us! 🙂
Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂
52 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #345 – Wheels And Waddles (PB)”
Thanks Susanna for the shout out. We can’t wait for Valentiny and Spring Fling!
Sarah, have you read Duck by Randy Cecil? It’s the same context but the real duck is from a carousel and can’t fly. It’s one if my faves!!!
Thanks Kaitlyn, I will look that book up at the library.
Thanks for your comment for Sarah, Kaitlyn! And yay! You’re running the Spring Fling again? Let me know when you have an updated link!
What a cute premise!! I would read it for how adorable it sounds.
The pitch seems a bit awkward when I read it aloud. Perhaps it’s the use of ‘like’ and ‘unlikely’ and some typos (capitalized Clickety? and insert a ‘he’ after ‘realizes’. The use of Wheels and Waddles so often in the pitch might be a reason it reads awkward for me. Wondering if you could eliminate using the names so much but still get across what you want?
BTW, Trevor is a sweet story.
Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Sarah, Nadine!
This sounds like a very cute story, but the pitch feels a little long. Consider keeping your comp titles for a different part of your query and diving right into the story with something like “Unlikely friends Waddles and Wheels share a summer of (name some of the adventures)….”
Thanks for sharing. It’s definitely something I would want to read.
Thank you Rose. Yes, I could feel that it wasn’t quite right, and started procrastinating, then deadline hit to submit to Susanna. I hope one of these days, I will get to share this with the world.
Thank you so much for your helpful suggestions for Sarah, Rose!
I would read it yes! Because of the title. The pitch is like so many others. Unlikely friendships. I’m wondering what is special about this unlikely friendship that would be different. A real duck and a fake duck? That has slight potential. But the title alone was enough for me to give it a try.
Thank you for the little push to share the thing that makes this story different from the others.
Thank you for your thoughtful comments for Sarah!
Hi Sarah, the title and premise of this story drew me in. But I agree with Rose’s comments above to keep the comp’s to a different section of your query & to focus more on what makes this particular friendship unique. Good luck revising your pitch to reflect what I’m sure is a wonderful story.
Thank you for taking time to read the pitch and provide feedback.
Thank you for stopping by to give Sarah a hand, Patricia!
Yes, I would read this! It sounds adorable. The names perfectly fit the characters. I had a few difficulties and had to reread a couple of sentences. I might just ditch the first bit (it confused me and is kind of wordy) and start right in with something like “Wheels and Waddles became unlikely friends of the best sort.” I do like what Swugar2 said about “A real duck and a fake duck?” That would create mystery and how in the world would that work? I do hope you keep working on this friendship book. So cute! Best wishes!
Thank you Angie. The comments have given me food for thought and I am excited about rewriting the pitch to make it even more clear what makes this friendship story is about.
You’ve got this! Yay!
Thanks so much for your helpful thoughts and suggestions for Sarah, Angie!
Sounds adorable, so I would read. To make it stand out more, maybe add what adventure they go on or the major problem they face (something unexpected) without giving too much away. Draw us into it and leave us wanting to know more.
Thani you so much for your helpful suggestions for Sarah, Kim!
I think I would be a yes on this. I can see the many layers that could be involved.
It is a bit long, but in a query letter, I think it is just about right.
There are a couple of typos that need to be cleaned up.
“Wheels Clickety tickety, follows along. When fall arrives Waddles must migrate.” Why is “Clickety” capitalized? And, When fall arrives(,) Waddles must migrate.
I would also suggest dropping the last sentence. I think the tension has been built and is perfectly captured in “leaves Wheels behind.”
As always, just one person’s opinion. Good luck with your story!
Thank you for pointing out my typos. I usually worry about them more as I know I have my writing in order, but I stumped myself on how to say what I felt needed to be said. That is one of the reasons that I love this blog. It gives writers a chance to practice pitching and for readers (who are often writers) a chance to help other writers and hone their editing skills. You know those errors were a test of all your reader, right? 😉
Thank you for your helpful comments for Sarah, Matthew, and for catching those little details!
I like the blending of what counts (fun & friendship) with the reality that some traits require tough choices and not-always-equal participation. The sound effects in the pitch are a nice taste of the story’s voice. Ditto the duck names. I’d save the comps for later and start the pitch with the latter part of the sentences (starting with ‘Wheels’). Not only is this a typical submission format, it also streamlines all those names and shines the spotlight on your characters. It gives me pause to read that Waddles always leads and Wheels always follows. Is that what you meant? Or does the story have more balance between the friends?
Thank you for your feedback. In many ways the story is pretty one sided. Wheels is a toy duck and he is not animated or come to life. In my imagination, he does have a soul and reacts to the world with his eyes, but this is more the story of Waddles and how he befriends the toy duck despite those limitations.
And thank you again for asking your questions cause that made me write what I just did and ta da, thoughts are much clearer.
Thank you for your thoughtful comments and suggestions for Sarah, Katie!
I’m a maybe. I think there is definitely potential in your idea. I agree with others to leave the comps out and put those elsewhere in a query. I also think the last sentence could be different and provide more interest. I feel like I’m missing a key part of the story and maybe a change in the last sentence would clear that up for me. What exactly is the tension or message in the story? Does Wheels want to be a real duck like Waddles? Does he struggle to accept himself for who he is? Is it about friendship, how true friends return to each other again and again, and accept each other for who they are? Maybe you provide a clue that shows Wheels takes initiative and meets Waddles at the other end of his migration journey instead of waiting like he always has. You have a good start and now the hard part begins. Good luck on your revision!
Megan, Thank you for your feedback. Your questions have helped me get more clear with writing the pitch and what this story is about.
Thanks for your helpful feedback for Sarah, Megan!
I love odd relationships but I have to agree with others to jump right into the pitch. I want to see more of a story arc in this pitch. I see they become friends but I want a taste of problems these two face that is unique to their story (something that makes this story stand out).
Thank you Rena. I have been struggling with how to present that in a pitch as it is a story that is more circular than with a big arc. You comments has me thinking more on how I can make all that clear.
Very helpful, Rena! Thank you so much!
I love the idea of a toy duck and a real duck becoming friends and having adventures together. The pitch felt long, though, and the part of the lead sentence with the comps slowed the intro down. I agree with Megan and others that the last sentence needs a boost–and I do wonder if Wheels could do something proactive rather than just wait. Yes–I would read it.
Thank you Marcia. I appreciate that you took the time t read and comment on my pitch.
Thank you so much for your helpful thoughts for Sarah, Marcia!
I want to say thank you to Susanna for this wonderful blog. I have been following it and sharing my thoughts for at least a year. I love reading people’s pitches and feel nervous and excited to have shared two of mine.
The writing community is incredible. Every comment I have received is filled with heartfelt support and feedback. Thank you all.
Practicing pitches here allows you to see if your need to improve your pitch, if the pitch matches the intent of your story, and even maybe even that the story needs some work. The last pitch lead me to rethink some things in my story. As much as I want that story to be submission ready, I am glad to get some gentle feedback that allows me the chance to see what I can do to make the story better. For this story, I feel that the work that is needed in the pitch, and you all have given me plenty of food for thought.
So if you are on the fence about practicing your pitch in this forum, I say waddle in, the water is nice.
You are so welcome, Sarah! And I want to say that the real thanks is to the readers who take the time to evaluate and consider the pitches and give their thoughtful feedback. It is SO helpful, and we all benefit from the chance to read new pitches each week, see what’s working and what isn’t, hear what others think, etc. I appreciate your encouragement to others to give WYRI a try because it can be scary to put your work out there for others to consider, but this is a lovely community of truly helpful, well-meaning people and you will learn a lot without feeling like you’ve been judged!
Happy New Year Susanna! And Sarah, yes I would read your story based on two things- the title and the subject matter of unlikely friendships. Others have given you great advice on how to streamline your pitch but I wanted to add my encouragement. I hope you go for it!
Thank you Ingrid. I very much appreciate the encouragement.
Happy New Year, Ingrid! 🙂 And thanks so much for your helpful comments for Sarah!
I absolutely love the working title of the story, and the general idea itself. A real duck & a toy duck–cute! As others have mentioned, your pitch is a tad long. Consider tightening to just the “need to know” sentences, plus leave us a hanging a bit. Omit the “as always” and make us wonder if Wheels really does wait for Waddles…does Wheels even want to wait?? I think you’ve a great idea here & the pitch needs some simple polish. Good luck with it!
Thanks so much for chiming in for Sarah, Jenny – so helpful!!
Sarah, this sounds like an endearing picture book. One that I would like to read one day.
Your pitch is descriptive and conveys the throughline. However, keeping in mind that pitches need to be short, I believe you can write your pitch tighter. Perhaps along these lines?:
Waddles wants to take his best friend, Wheels, on the family fall migration but can’t because toy ducks don’t fly. But when he tries to take Wheels with him, Waddles begins to understand and knows Wheels will be there waiting for him come spring.
Just a suggestion and hope it helps.
So glad you’ve joined the fun, Phyllis! Welcome! And thank you so much for your thoughtful comments for Sarah!
I would read it. I don’t have much to add. You have some great advice so far. Is this based on a true story? Good luck!
Thanks so much for chiming in for Sarah, Greg!
Hi Susanna! Glad to stop by for the new year. Thanks for the chocolate boost 🙂
I believe there are some great suggestions already to improve the pitch, so I’ll just say that I was ready to read it just for the title. Good luck with this!
Hi Angela! Happy New Year! So lovely to hear from you 🙂 Hope you and the Chipmunk are doing well!!
Hi Sarah, I’m a maybe. There are lots of good thoughts above to work with! I love the fun itle as it has me immediately curious. It’s the final, sentences,”Though he tries to take Wheels with him, Waddles realizes must leave Wheels behind. As always, Wheels waits for spring and Waddles”, that could use a little more enticement. Hint at some of the chaos that they are up against to entice the editor to read your MS.
Thank you so much for your helpful thoughts for Sarah, Patti!
I would read it! The title and the friendship theme sell if for me, but like others I might hint more at what makes it an unlikely friendship. The conclusion seems pretty pat (wheels of course waits) so if there’s a twist or any sort, put that into a more-concise pitch. Good luck!