Would You Read It Wednesday #378 – The Bitter Tastebud (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor X 4!!!

Woo hoo!

What a Would You Read It Straight From The Editor line up we have today!

Fun times for all!

It’s always such a great learning experience to hear what editor Erin Molta has to say!

Let’s jump right in, shall we?!

First off, we have such a treat! Straight From The Editor for FOUR (count them! 4!) pitches: April 2020, May/September 2020, October 2020, and November/December 2020!

You will recall Sierra’s winning pitch from April:

Title: The Bug Battle Circus
Audience: Children ages 3-8
Genre: Narrative Nonfiction/Humor

Pitch: When household pests go head to head in the Bug Battle Circus, which crawly critters will be victorious? You guess! A wild, interactive story comparable to Bob Shea’s Crash, Splash, or Moo! and the Who Would Win? series. Nonfiction backmatter included.

Here’s what Erin had to say:

I can see the potential for this and understand why you’re comparing it to already published books but that shouldn’t be in the pitch. That’s in the query letter. The pitch is your sell line. What makes your book special—apart from Crash Splash Moo or Who Would Win? It would be great to get at least one example of a competition in the pitch. Even a wild interactive story is telling us, not showing us and an example from the story would have more impact on an editor. Perhaps something more like: Household pests go head to head in the Bug Battle Circus—ants and mice compete to see who can hoist the most crumbs. Which crawly critters will be victorious in this interactive story? Nonfiction backmatter included.

Lindsey’s winning pitch from May/September was:

The Wind Keeper
PB ages 4-8

On Jenny’s eighth birthday, Papa tells her that she comes from a long line of Wind Keepers. Together they harness the power of the wind to change the seasons and send kites flying high. But when Papa suddenly passes away, her world becomes still. Jenny must find the strength to overcome her grief and bring the wind back to the valley.

And Erin said:

This seems almost perfect. I would suggest one tweak—just to have slightly more impact. Rather than “her world becomes still” because it’s everybody’s world and no wind affects everybody, I’d say “the world becomes still.”

Nicole’s winning pitch from October was:

Dear Duchess
(PB 4-8)
When her octopus stuffie, Duchess, moves to the ocean to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a mermaid, Charley isn’t sure she’s brave enough to face the first day of school alone. Duchess and Charley comfort and cheer each other through letters until Duchess realizes that some things are even more precious than her magnifique new tail.

And Erin said:

This sounds adorable—so much going on between a pretend animal moving away to become a fantasy creature of a whole different type in a whole different place and then to write letters to her friend/owner. So much suspension of belief needs to be unpacked here. Not saying that can’t be done but maybe Duchess goes back to the sea because of her lifelong dream to become a real octopus but realizes life in the ocean is dangerous and scary and lonely without her friend Charley. Just a thought. At the very least, I think you need to add “beloved” before octopus stuffie (as shown below)—just to make it clear that Duchess is a well-loved longtime companion of Charley’s.

When her beloved octopus stuffie, Duchess, moves to the ocean to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a mermaid, Charley isn’t sure she’s brave enough to face the first day of school alone. Duchess and Charley comfort and cheer each other through letters until Duchess realizes that some things are even more precious than her magnifique new tail.

Last but not least, Patricia’s winning post from November/December was:

Working Title: Back to the Sea (PB 4-8)

The Pitch: At sunrise on a lush, tropical island, an inquisitive child accompanies a huge cast of terrestrial hermit crabs as they scritchedy-scratch and clickety-clack on their annual journey to spawn in the sea. They face rocky terrain, hungry gulls, and larger animals that could crush them, but the crabs remain focused on their instinctive goal. This lyrical STEM manuscript is Hawk Rising set in the Caribbean.

Erin had this to say:

This seems very interesting. However, I would encourage you to get more of your lyrical language into the pitch—show an editor, don’t tell an editor that your text is lyrical. The scritchedy-scratch clickety-clack are great and I think that you’d be better off using another line to mention the dangers a hermit crab faces on its trek from the trees to the ocean. No need to mention another book (Hawk Rising) in the pitch. That goes in the query letter.

I am always so interested to hear Erin’s thoughts, and she is so helpful and generous to share them with us! I hope you all found this as educational as I did!

After all that learning, I think we need Something Chocolate, don’t you? Packed with vegetables (from the cocoa BEAN) and protein (from the peaNUT butter) and calcium (because I just dare you to eat these without a glass of milk!), let’s start the day off right with this healthy breakfast!

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Filled Cupcakes


I told you you’d need some milk 😊

Now that you (surely!) feel totally energized (from all the nutrients of course, not the sugar surge 😊) I think we’re ready to direct our full attention to today’s pitch which comes to us from Deborah. Deborah Foster is a home designer, mother, and a fantastic cook. Her CRAV-O-METER tends to have a “sweet” outcome and her all-time favorite food is cherry pie. She is a master at writing while cooking supper and, thankfully, her husband doesn’t mind eating burnt casseroles every now and then. Deborah is a member of 12×12, Inked Voices, and SavvyAuthors. She is always looking for more writing friends on Twitter. Follow her @DeborahClaytonF. A

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Bitter Tastebud

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

The Pitch: Amargo is a bitter tastebud who can’t stand to take another sweet, salty, or lip-puckering bite. But he is outnumbered and so is his vote on the CRAV-O-METER. Amargo must figure out how to change the vote or continue eating the food he detests.

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 Deborah 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!

Deborah is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I usually say something I’m looking forward to here, but today I have something for YOU to look forward to! I know I’m a little bit Mars-crazy, having written a book about Mars and the rovers, but if you haven’t seen this official video from NASA of Perseverance landing on Mars you’re in for a treat. It is, to put it plainly, absolutely incredible! Watch the video, share it with your kids and/or students, maybe read MARS’ FIRST FRIENDS along with it… 😊 but don’t miss the video!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

21 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #378 – The Bitter Tastebud (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor X 4!!!

  1. talararuth says:

    I’m intrigued by your pitch, Deborah! I’m very curious as to how it all works out. Sounds like a stretch of the imagination, but definitely intriguing! Thanks for posting! That’s a yes!

  2. Norah says:

    Yes. I would read it. I haven’t ever thought of a tastebud starring in a story and am intrigued to find out what taste that bitter Amargo craves and if the tastebuds can work out a balance of tastes together.

  3. Nadine Poper says:

    Wow. There is a lot of great stuff in this post today Susanna! Amazing advice from Erin, chocolate, a fun pitch to read from Deborah, and this rover video! I am going to include this video and your book in the November 28 slot on the Children’s Activity Calendar I write for the library supply company DEMCO. Thank you for the content!

    Deborah, your story sounds so fun..a taste bud for a character! As I read the pitch there are phrases that I try to avoid in my writing (or in the pitch) and one of them is ‘can’t stand’. I feel there are more impactful word choices to show a character doesn’t like or agree with something. Also, you use ‘lip-puckering’ but I associate lip puckering with bitter. Here you have your MC not liking lip puckering. I would think he does.
    ‘Change the vote’ seems a bit vague here but is important for your MC to do. I would find stronger verbs to show what Amargo has to accomplish…convince? Does Amargo sabotage the results first before realizing what he needs to learn?

    Thank you Susanna for another great start to my Wednesday.

  4. Katie Engen says:

    The unique premise is yummy. I’d like to know a bit more about Amargo e.g. is the name meaningful? Does ‘bitter’ equate to his personality or is he more faceted than that? Also, some insight to how he might ‘change the vote’ would be useful. Or maybe a hint at the mechanism/motivation – i.e. is there a political/get out the vote message threaded into his plight? Or more of a ‘we’re all in this together’ theme?

  5. palpbkids says:

    Deborah, Love this concept! Good for you for keeping the pitch short. Nevertheless, it’s a bit telling instead of showing. Seeing how the word CRAV-O-METER.is catchy, consider leading of with that. If you can capture the voice of your story in the pitch, you’ll hook your reader. Before you revise, listen to some movie trailers and see how they build a desire to see the movie. 🙂

  6. ptnozell says:

    Susanna & Erin, the pitch critiques are awesome. Not only have Erin’s insights helped me strengthen my own pitch (thank you), but I learn so much reading the other pitch insights, too.

    I’ve been fortunate to read this unique story, so I’m definitely a “yes”, Deborah. I agree, though, to use sour versus lip-puckering. I’d also up the stakes a bit at the end & change it to “face a lifetime eating foods he detests”.

    Can’t wait to see what others suggest!

    • Deborah Foster says:

      Patricia, I too really enjoyed reading the pitch feedback from Erin. I think she gives some solid advice! And thank you for giving me some feedback on my pitch!

  7. authorlaurablog says:

    I really enjoyed reading Erin’s feedback on the pitches and congratulations to all the winners who received feedback. Susanna, peanut butter and chocolate are the perfect combination, thanks for sharing. I know Amargo means bitter in Spanish so I’m wondering if your book is bilingual or will have other nods to two languages on the tongue. See where I’m going? I think Nadine gave you some excellent feedback so I’m not going to reiterate that. I think you’ve got some work to do on the pitch but it’s an interesting story idea. I’m a maybe.

  8. robincurrie1 says:

    Maybe – I could not quite get my head around who or what Amargo is – human who can only taste bitter? A real authentic spot on the tongue? How is eating sweets making him suffer? Say more, please!

  9. Eileen Mayo says:

    I’ve had the pleasure to read both Patricia’s and Debs’s stories. I can tell you, they are wonderful! Deb’s Bitter Taste Bud is quite a character, and the story she wrote is full of charm, humor, and really informative.
    Patricia’s Back To The Sea is lyrical and sweet.
    Both have STEAM applications and I can see both being used in the classroom.

  10. Barbara Falk DiMarco says:

    Loving the Insight from Erin…And thanks to Susanna for the calcium! Deborah your pitch has a certain appeal. And the subject is original…very cool. I so want to find out what an illustrator can do with a taste bud… Go Deborah!

  11. seschipper says:

    Susanna, Thanks as usual for the “yummy” post! I always look forward to “Would you read it…”
    The video of the landing was an added treat!
    Yes I would read it! Bitter Tastebud sounds like quite the character!!
    Also, Erin’s feedback was great!

  12. annamaledonchildrensauthor says:

    About the pitch: It sounds very interesting and fresh, Deborah. I would work on the last line to make it a bit more punchy. It is a little flat at the moment.

    You probably know the picture book SWEET TOOTH by Margie Palatini, but if not do check it out. It is a similar concept, but it is about a tooth, not a tastebud. Some other title that could be of use is HAIR IN FUNNY PLACES by Babette Cole – it features hormone characters. My kids find this book hilarious.

    Good luck!

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