Would You Read It Wednesday #379 – The Story of Citronella (Please Hold Your Nose) (PB)

It’s Would You Read It Wednesday! Woo hoo!

But that’s not all!

Yesterday was Dr. Seuss’s birthday, Read Across America Day, and opening day of Vivian Kirkfield’s #50preciouswords contest!

If you enjoy my writing contests and may somehow have managed to miss this, quick! Rush over!

There are 50 truly amazing prizes on offer with everything from critiques by editors, agents, and picture book authors, to seats in classes, to bundles of books – definitely worth writing an entry for! So don’t miss it!

If you’re not up to writing an entry on such short notice, you can still go over and read all the wonderful entries that are posted!

So enjoy!

And to fuel your writing and/or help you enjoy your reading and/or energize you for helping today’s pitcher polish her pitch, how about a little Something Chocolate? I’m thinking Chocolate Cream Puffs because, YUM!

Chocolate Cream Puffs

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Bru who says, “I’m a respiratory therapist of 33+ years, now retired, who over the past covid months, revisited my files of story ideas and manuscripts to revise for today’s audience. Since the libraries were mostly closed during the past year, I built and set up a Little Free Library #91063 so children could continue to read books.  When I first started writing stories for my children in 1985, I wrote articles for trade journals but never published any of my children’s PB stories in book form. As the saying goes, you are never too old to learn new tricks, so I rejoined SCBWI and my hometown RACWI (Rochester Area Children’s Writers and Illustrators) groups. I have placed in The Writer’s Digest Children’s Writers annual contest as an Honorable Mention for many years. I hope to give everyone some smiles this year.”

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Story of Citronella (Please Hold Your Nose)

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

The Pitch:

In the Stinkbug Kingdom, everything changes in a single moment for Citronella. She realizes she smells different from everyone else which starts trouble.
When an announcement for the prince’s ball arrives Citronella isn’t invited. Is it the work of the stepsisters who smelled like burnt bacon and rotten eggs or the stepmother who’s odor was like a dirty diaper. Or Both. Citronella has choices; go incognito to the ball to try to marry the prince, seek out who she really is, or stay with the smelly stepsisters and their mother forever; um, wait, no way for the last one.
With the help of a wisecracking fairy godfather, Citronella has her one chance to attend the ball. After seeing the prince in his undergarments, she has more in common with him than she realized. Citronella’s bright yellow with black stripes outer skin is not solid brown like the stinkbugs and either is the prince’s. She really does fit into both the Stinkbug and the Bee Kingdom after all. Both the prince and Citronella lived happily, in a hive downwind from everybody else that smelled not just pleasant but Bee-utiful. This smelly insect kingdom re-creation of a favorite fairy tale comes with instructional (Bees & Stinkbugs) backmatter for classroom use.

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 Bru 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!

Bru is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to heading on over to Vivian’s and reading some of the wonderful entries posted there!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

32 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #379 – The Story of Citronella (Please Hold Your Nose) (PB)

  1. annamaledonchildrensauthor says:

    A pitch is a pitch is a pitch.

    Interesting idea, but this is not a pitch. This is a synopsis. Pitch is much much shorter than that. Usually 1-2 sentences.

    You should shorten it to industry standards or else you risk that agents will not even read it, which is a shame because it sounds like a funny story most kids would enjoy. They like gross things and villains, don’t they?

  2. Norah says:

    Maybe. It’s quite a funny premise and I like the name Citronella – a clever choice. I also like the idea of a wise cracking godfather but am not sure why she’d have to see the prince in his undergarments.

    • readmybook2002 says:

      Thank you for your comments. I have rewritten and eliminated the part about the prince’s underwear after feedback from my writer’s group. The problem I had was how the prince and Citronella find out both are bees in a land of stinkbugs and holding this idea as a surprise ending. I’m learning how illustrations capture ideas that don’t have to be told in words.

  3. ptnozell says:

    Susanna, thanks for reminding readers of the #50PreciousWords contest & for generously donating a prize. I entered & have also enjoyed reading the other awesome entries (over 140 of them, so far).

    Bru, I like the premise of this fairytale retelling, but I agree that the pitch needs trimming. Perhaps you can state Citronella’s problem more succinctly, something like this: “Citronella wants to attend the Stinkbug Kingdom ball, but she lacks an invitation. With the help of a fairy godfather, she overcomes [state problems] and learns…”

    Hope this helps!

  4. readmybook2002 says:

    Susanna, thank you so much for presenting my pitch idea and having a platform like this for writers. This is going to be a teaching/learning day for me. I welcome any feedback, guidance, good or bad, so I can become a better writer. Thank you to everyone.

  5. palpbkids says:

    Oh, please don’t feel embarrassed. We are all learning. And, thanks to Susanna, we have this wonderful spot to come to to increase our knowledge. PTNOZELL’s suggestion is perfect!
    Have fun revising:)

  6. Sandy McGraw says:

    Sure, it’s too long, but the title alone sparks my interest! You have all the material you need to work with – concentrate on what your main character wants, what stands in her way, and what’s at stake. It’s such hard work – I know! Keep after it!

  7. pbbeckyk says:

    I agree with what others have said about needing to shorten your pitch and I wish you all the best as you continue working on making your query shine. I think it would help to start by zooming into Citronella’s main problem, which (I assume) is revealing her true self to the prince to ensure that they can live together happily ever after. This would help you cut a lot from your current pitch and move it to the synopsis paragraph of your query.

    I would read The Story of Citronella and know many children who would be intrigued too. Fairy tale twists are always popular and anything regarding stinky stuff elicits giggles.

    Best of luck!

  8. rosecappelli says:

    Yes. I would read this! I am always in awe of good retellings since I’ve tried a few and know they are not always easy. The back matter adds an interesting layer.

    You already know your pitch needs to be shortened. I agree 1-2 sentences should be sufficient. Remember leave us wanting to know more and don’t give away the end. I think you could add one more sentence indicating there is back matter.

    Good luck! I look forward to seeing your revisions.

  9. Marcia Z. Parks says:

    Yes, I would read this. I think the name Citronella is not just clever–it’s inspired. From reading your responses to what others have written, I think you’re well on the way to a delightful story.
    (And the backwater is a nice finishing touch.)

  10. booksinger says:

    Yes, I would read this. I LOVE fractured fairy tales. Needs some serious trimming, and consider nixing past tense use. Confused why Cintronella and the Prince fit into both kingdoms, and perhaps a more focused account (first sentence) of what made C aware she was different. I’m curious about that single moment!. Lots of good ideas to polish into a great story…and pitch.

    • readmybook2002 says:

      Thank you. You bring up good questions. The back pages about honeybees and stinkbugs tell about the relationship of both to each other. Some stink bugs prey on insects that destroy flowers that bees use for gathering pollen. The stinkbugs, because of their smell, also repel some insects which would harm bees. Bees in turn help stinkbugs by providing shelter in hives during cold winters.
      Honeybees have pheromones. They can only smell another bee from the same hive or a close-by hive. Citronella has no smell (can’t smell herself), stinkbug smell is different (yucky) and stinkbugs make fun of her because she doesn’t have a smell. Only when she meets the prince she can smell his pheromones but has to leave. (she then knows he is really a bee) The prince goes to smell the maidens to see if he can smell Citronellas scent (instead of trying on a slipper) but other smells(stinkbug step-sisters) get in the way. Finally, he smells her as she comes into the room, proposal etc happy ever after with the stepsister living downwind from the hive. Sorry for the long-winded explanation.

  11. robincurrie1 says:

    Maybe – it was a little hard to find the “pitch” – is this story based on real facts about beekeeping? I like the smell-o-vision aspect, but got lost in the details.

    • readmybook2002 says:

      Thank you. The brief real facts (would be footnoted) about the symbiotic relationship of honey bees and stinkbugs are explored in the backpage for the reader. Some people have said the story idea is too detailed and I’m trying to do too much. I think with illustrations the story becomes clearer. The underlining theme of wanting to belong, finding who you are, and actually discovering you already fit in, just differently, is something children can relate to and achieve.

      • readmybook2002 says:

        What do other writers think? Am I trying to do too much? Is the stinky retelling enough on its own to keep it simple or mixing smelly fun with some facts better?

  12. setwiggs says:

    I like the relating to smell with all that’s happened with smelling bad odors with COVID. I completely missed that this was about stinkbugs so you may want to highlight the science of it more in the pitch. Perhaps more bee like verbs and nouns. Check out Candace Fleming’s Honeybee as a mentor text.

    • readmybook2002 says:

      Thank you. I guess I didn’t do a good job showing the insect affiliation since this is a fictional story with a non-fiction backmatter added. One of the best workshops, the last live one since covid that I attended, was Candace Fleming’s in Victor NY. She was talking about her new Lindbergh book and her historical PBS portion. Amazing 8 hours.

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