Would You Read It Wednesday #354 – Maple & Pine (PB)

Darlings, has the novelty of working from home…whilst homeschooling the littles…whilst still being in charge of laundry, household chores, cooking, refereeing, peacekeeping, and entertaining…. whilst trying to exercise in the hall closet because the rest of the house is overrun with hooligans and it’s the only place you can get any privacy… whilst not being able to take the kids to the park or the zoo or the movies or even send them to play next door…  worn off?

I’m thinking we’d better have some fun!  How about you?

This is a game adults and kids, parents and teachers, writers and illustrators, anyone and everyone can play!

Are you ready?

It’s time to make Story Starter Cootie Catchers!

In case you don’t remember how to fold them, here’s a little review:

And in case you don’t remember where to write on them, here’s a template:

A nice flat clear one:

cootie catcher

and then mine which is less flat and less clear but has the right kind of information on it! 😊


You will need 4 colors (I chose Orange, Purple, Raspberry, and Turquoise.)  Alternatively you could choose 4 animals, or 4 musical instruments, or whatever blows your hair back 😊

Then you need 8 numbers.  I went with the obvious: 1-8.  But you can pick whatever you like 😊 You could also swap out the numbers for genres if you want – adventure, mystery, how-to, etc.

Then you need 8 story elements of some kind.  I actually put in choices to get more mileage out of my little homemade idea generator, but for those of you who are trying to get mileage out of entertaining your kids, let them make as many cootie catchers with as many options as they like…!

I put in 8 different story starter/opening lines and also 8 different sets of 3 random words.  You could choose one or the other or parts of both if you land on that option while playing the game.

You could also use the colors and/or numbers as part of your story if you wanted to.

If thinking up what to put in doesn’t work for you, you are most welcome to use my options – I’m pretty sure you can read them with a little zoom-in and tilt your head sideways!




So, for example, if you were using MY fancy little story starter, you could choose

Raspberry, (and you open and close the cootie catcher 9 times as you spell out r-a-s-p-b-e-r-r-y which lands you on a choice of 4 possible numbers)
so you might choose  3,
and when you lift that flap it that would give you a story that started with Rory rounded the corner quickly and ran headfirst into. . .

or you could choose to write a story that included the words cinnamon, feather, and bubble

If you wanted to also incorporate raspberry and/or 3, you could do that as well!


Instantly ideas begin to percolate!

If your kids are old enough to read and write, they can make their own story starter cootie catchers and you can trade them around so you get other people’s sparks.

If you’re trying to stretch out the entertainment value, your kids can write, illustrate, act out, make up a song or a jump rope rhyme, and/or tell stories as well, earning you time to do your work (or hide in the hall closet!!!)

Then, after you’ve all had tons of fun with creativity, you can make a snack together!

Something Chocolate – Fun For Kids Chocolate-Dipped Rice Krispie Treats!

Fun For Kids Chocolate-Dipped Rice Krispie Treats!


These are decorated with rainbow sprinkles, but you can decorate with anything you like – mini marshmallows, blueberries, peanut butter chips, slightly stale breadcrumbs if that’s all that’s left in your larder… 😊 – just another opportunity to use your imagination!

Ta da!  I hope I’ve given you a way to entertain your household for at least 14 minutes today 😊

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Jenny Prevost, an aspiring picture book author and french fry aficionado who also loves coffee, her small southern town, and going on adventures with her hilariously loud family. (3 kids, 2 pets, 1 husband and a partridge in a pear tree. Kidding, no pear trees… only citrus ones.) She interviews authors and shares writerly musings at www.jennyprevost.com and ‘mom stuff’ over on  www.thelafayettemom.com.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Maple & Pine

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

The Pitch: Maple gives the best high fives and her words are sweet as syrup, but she’s planted next to Pine, who pokes fun all year long. At least until a springtime storm shakes things up and gives Pine a fresh perspective.

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 Jenny 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 April, 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!

Jenny is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to hearing how you all fare with Story Starter Cootie Catchers!  Feel free to share your story starters in the comments!  And feel free to share this blog post with any of your desperate bored friends! 😊

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


24 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #354 – Maple & Pine (PB)

  1. Lynne Marie says:

    I thought the pitch was unique and would definitely read it to see where it goes. I did find myself wanting a bit more substance, though. Perhaps if you lead with MAPLE’S ENCOURAGING WORDS ARE SWEET AS SYRUP instead of the high fives and then , to slant her personality as more of a benefit as one weathers the trials and tribulations of life. I guess, however, that the main issue I see is that it didn’t specifically show who was the main character and what the problem was. Perhaps if you frame it in that way, it might feel a bit stronger. Also, perhaps be specific as to what Pine pokes fun at and how that’s a problem. Is Pine the MC, because you lead with Maple and end with Pine? Anyway, I do hope my comments prove helpful in reframing this. Good luck with it! Lynne Mare (www.literallylynnemarie.com)

  2. Deborah Foster says:

    Making the Storytime Cootie Catcher was so much fun! What a great idea! And my daughter and I planned on making rice crispy treats today (between homeschooling and working) so we might have to make them chocolate-dipped!

    I would read this Jenny! Great job on the pitch. I have a couple of suggestions though. I stumbled over the words “at least” and it feels like you switch perspectives on the last sentence. The first sentence is about Maple (who is your MC) and Pine. I think the next sentence needs to include both of them as well. Is Maple fed up with Pine? Is she on her last nerve when the storm shows up? What happens to Maple during the storm?

  3. Katie Engen says:

    Love the tone, puns, and hints of characterization packed into such few words. I’d like a bit more detail on the new, acute problem (beyond the abiding Odd Couple-ness) as well as the solution. In other words, I like the set up & characters but I don’t know enough about this particular story to know if I’ll anticipate the read.

  4. Kathy Halsey says:

    Great title, love the word play and the tone in this pitch,too. But like others, I want more substance and a few specific plot points to make me feel more engaged. Good luck, Jenny. Susanna, I have never heard of this childhood pastime called by the name “cootie catcher.” Great idea.

  5. Kathy Halsey says:

    Great title, love the word play and the tone in this pitch,too. But like others, I want more substance and a few specific plot points to make me feel more engaged. Good luck, Jenny. Susanna, I have never heard of this childhood pastime called by the name “cootie catcher.” Great idea.

  6. ptnozell says:

    Susanna, thanks for sharing story starter ideas & a yummy recipe, too. I like that the recipe is adaptable – who knew that chocolate chips would be one of those “must have” items that would fly off grocery shelves as fast as toilet paper & disinfectant!

    Jenny, I echo the other sentiments and would like more details about the conflict & about the characters’ personalities. Is Maple annoyingly sweet or someone that others like? Is pine prickly or more of a jokester? And what are the interactions before the storm changes everything? I think if you ground this pitch with a few more details, we’ll all be pining to read this story.

  7. Diana Lynn Gibson says:

    Maple gives the best high fives and her words are sweet as syrup, but she’s planted next to Pine, who pokes fun all year long. At least until a springtime storm shakes things up and gives Pine a fresh perspective.

    Jenny, Sounds like a great story for kids! I agree with the others but am intrigued by the potential conflict in the story. Is Pine a bully? Could your story fit in with other bullying stories possibly? Why does Maple give the best high fives? Is this necessary in the pitch? Perhaps you could build on the bullying part of the story.
    Maple has been planted next to Pine and she’s tired of his bullying. Year after year she quietly puts up with Pine poking fun at her until a springtime storm shakes things up and … Maybe this can get you started…

  8. rosecappelli says:

    Susanna – I used to make cootie catchers and so did my kids, so they have been around for quite a long time. Thanks for the reminder of such a fun activity.

    Jenny- Yes I would read this story. The characters sound unique and I can envision them interacting in fun ways. I particularly like the high-fives from Maple that calls to mind the shape of her leaves. Like others, I think there are a few confusing parts and missing details.Since you open talking about Maple, I’m assuming she is the main character. But the last sentence says that it is Pine who changes. If Pine is the main character, perhaps say something about him first – is he sick of hearing Maple’s sweet words? Perhaps that could give us more insight into what the problem is, too. I would also want to know more about how Pine pokes fun – does he joke? Thanks for sharing!

  9. Rebecca says:

    This is a maybe for me. I like stories about trees, and I like the word play in this pitch. But there are two problems. One: “…gives Pine a fresh perspective” makes it seem like the text may focus more on lesson than story. Two: as others have mentioned, you switch POVs in the second half of the pitch. I suggest rewriting the second line so that it shows more of what happens in the story to bring about the change in Maple and Pine’s relationship.

    • Jennifer G Prevost says:

      Ohhhh, you might be right. I think I’m struggling with a classic case of ‘can’t seem the forest from the trees’… you gave me great thoughts to take back to my story. Thanks, Rebecca!

  10. marty says:

    Susanna, Thanks for the fun revamping of the old cootie catchers from years ago. Great idea.
    Jenny, Yes, this definitely catches my interest. Love the wordplay. As others have mentioned, I’d consider rewording the last sentence to keep the focus on Maple as the MC.

  11. Rene` Diane Aube ~ Children's Author says:

    Jenny, I love your word play! Its very fun! The rhythm in the beginning of your first sentence was fun, too. I thought maybe your whole pitch was going to be done in rhythm and rhyme and I felt let down when it didn’t. Instead the rhythm seemed lost at the end of the first sentence. Now, perhaps you did not intend the rhythm at all, but I thought you should know that’s how it came across to me. Something to think about?

    I, like many others, didn’t feel like I understood where the story was going or how Pine’s behavior was effecting Maple. Maybe a third sentence placed between your two would help to clarify a little better? Maybe a little more specificity? You have lots of great suggestions to consider here 🙂 Best wishes with this manuscript 🙂

    • Jennifer G Prevost says:

      Very nice of you to say that! I clearly see that it falls flat, I worked on the first sentence so much, it seems I neglected the second (and apparently forgot the third entirely). Thanks for stopping by and offering such helpful feedback!

  12. Melissa Stiveson says:

    Really like the pitch and concept. Who is the main character? Perhaps revise a bit to make the main character clear.

  13. Angie says:

    Yes, I would read this! Fun story idea. I did think the beginning of the At least sentence needed a little something, but once I read about the change in POV, I understood what was stopping me. I can’t wait to read the whole story!

    Love the cootie catcher idea! I think my group of homeschooled grands will love it! Thank you!

  14. palpbkids says:

    Susanna, You brought out the kid in me today with your Cootie Catchers and chocolate-dipped Rice Krispie treats. I think I’ll swirl together some treats and then play😊.

    Hi Jenny,

    Maple & Pine sounds like a delightful picture book story. Love the descriptors in the first sentence!! Woohoo! Without having read the text, it is difficult to make helpful suggestions. You’ve succeeded in spelling out the logline (the hook). Kudos! But to make this stand out from the slush pile, the only missing thread is the ‘voice’ or what makes this catchy, smart, engaging. Perhaps tweak the second sentence?

    Here’s my attempt:
    Maple gives the best high fives and her words are sweet as syrup. But when she is planted next to Pine, her world is uprooted. With the howls and twists of an angry springttime t-storm, Maple’s kindness gives Pine a fresh perspective.

    Hope this helps.


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