Would You Read It Wednesday #396 – The Worry Zoo (PB)

Guess what? It’s the first Would You Read It Wednesday of October!

So I wrote you a song to celebrate.

Yup, I did.

Just for you. (And the rest of the whole entire world that will soon be singing it because it is SO SO good.)

(And I’m not just saying that because I made it up and I’m so incredibly talented at songwriting. I mean, remember my theme song for Tuesday Debut? Woohoo! Woohoo! Time for something new! Woohoo! Woohoo! Tuesday Debut! I know you’re all still singing THAT one! Admit it. It was your shower song this morning.)

This one is going to be all the rage. Everyone is going to be singing it.

You all know London Bridge, right? That will be the tune 😊

So are you ready?

Aaaand…EVERYBODY!

Autumn leaves are turning gold,
Orange, red, bright and bold.
Autumn leaves are turning gold,
It’s October!

Apple picking, what a treat!
Smooth and round, crisp and sweet,
Gather all that you can eat,
It’s October!

Pumpkin’s insides have to go,
Carve out eyes, mouth and nose,
Light it with a candle’s glow,
It’s October!

Wowee! That is some kind of song isn’t it?

If that doesn’t require Something Chocolate, I don’t know what does! Let’s stick with our autumnal theme and have some Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread – you know, you can use those pumpkin insides that have to go, just like the song says!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

A few slices of that delicious and nutritious Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread and a few rousing choruses of my new song and I bet you’re ready to get down to pitching! Am I right or am I right or am I right?

Today’s pitch comes to us from Robin who says, “As a librarian and ordained clergy, I love to connect children with the right book for the right moment. I live in the Chicago suburbs where I write stories to read and read again. http://www.robincurrie.net/index2.html

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Worry Zoo

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-7)

The Pitch: “I have a Worry Zoo inside me.” A child imagines the unsettling feelings and resulting actions as various zoo animals. “it is crowded and noisy when they all come at once.” With help, the child discovers simple self-soothing techniques to tame the animals and become the Zookeeper.

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 Robin 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 January, 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!

Robin is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to when my new song hits #1 on every kind of chart that measures music popularity which I think is going to be by the end of the week! 😊😊😊

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

28 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #396 – The Worry Zoo (PB)

  1. Jamie Donahoe says:

    A fun song – it may be today’s ear worm as we are experiencing full fall today here!

    Robin’s story sounds like it could be an interesting approach for children to address their feelings, but as currently written the pitch doesn’t pull me in particularly strongly. It’s very broad and general. I would therefore be a Maybe.

    Consider using a specific example of a worry (first day of school, doctor visit, etc) and its animal and present the rest of the book as a means to soothe that “animal” and many others.

    I do worry (!) myself about using a zoo as a reference point – aren’t animals in zoos horribly stressed by their conditions?? – but I am not sure how else one would refer to a collection of animals.

    Curious to see what others think!

  2. Norah says:

    What a great song. I think you can teach the world to sing. And that choc chip pumpkin bread looks soooo delicious.
    I like the idea of Robin’s book with a whole of of crazy emotions going on and providing children with the tools to calm them.

  3. Writer on the run says:

    I agree with Jamie- I like the concept of portraying different emotions/behaviors as animals, but the pitch does not pull me in the way it is written. Can you give the child a name? Is worry the only emotion that brings on the animals? If not, a more general title like “The Animals inside me” might be better. Without reading the manuscript, I had to guess that the animals represent different feelings such as anger, sadness, happiness- or do the animals represent the different behaviors brought on by anxiety? I’m a maybe.
    Great story idea!

  4. authorlaurablog says:

    I’m a maybe. A pitch should whet the reader’s appetite and this one didn’t accomplish that. With picture books every word needs to count and that’s also true for pitches.
    “A child imagines the unsettling feelings and resulting actions as various zoo animals.” feels like it’s written for an adult instead of a child. Does your main character have a name, that would help me engage in the story. I like the phrase, “tame the animals.” You’ve got a lot to play with here, good luck with your revision.

  5. ptnozell says:

    Susanna, I see a bright career in your future. You’ve managed to knock The Who’s “I’m Free” (courtesy of my son, who just finished a Covid quarantine) from playing on repeat in my brain. Thank you!

    Robin, I love the concept of your picture book, but I agree with the other comments that the pitch didn’t help me connect emotionally with the characters and the story. Help us feel your characters’ pain, and then give us clues of how they manage to tame these wild beasts. This is such an important topic & a unique way of addressing the stresses we’ve all been experiencing. I know this story will find a home, once we feel your characters’ distress.

  6. Lucretia Schafroth says:

    Susanna, Great “cover” of London Bridge! You not only made a significant improvement to the original lyrics (which have always bothered me, even as a kid!) but clearly demonstrated a strong creative evolution from your Tuesday Debut ditty. Love it! Let me know if you want my band to audition to accompany you.

    Robin, I agree with what the others have commented on previously. You have a wonderful idea for a PB here! The topic you’re addressing is a very important one for all ages, especially younger kids who might not be able to recognize such feelings as symptoms of anxiety. I really love the concept you’ve presented. However, the pitch as currently written didn’t pull me in.

    I took the liberty to rewrite it, suggesting a broader terminology that would allow the illustrations to incorporate animals representative of certain fears or emotions as eating that part of the MC’s inner “worrywart” without referring specifically to a zoo. Perhaps channel something along the lines of removing the concern by feeding it back to the hungry beast that caused it and combine it with the old adage of “don’t speak with your mouth full.” Just a thought. In any case, here’s my suggestion for the pitch:

    Walter worries about everything. Is he laughing too loud or humming too quietly, walking too fast or running too slowly… Everything seems to feed the worrywart beasts inside him. He can barely think with all their distracting noise! Walter can’t calm his anxious thoughts until he finally discovers a way to quiet these unsettling feelings and tame the worrywart beasts in his head.

  7. Patti Ranson says:

    Your song is a maybe – It would probably be a full-on YES if I hadn’t started focussing on the chocolate chip pumpkin bread;)

    I am also a maybe on the pitch. I love the concept of labelling feelings in a way that a child can relate to and label them as a step towards dealing with them.
    It would be more satisfying to know the name of the character.
    Could you leave out ‘with help’ in your pitch? It automatically takes my head off the child character, which is not what you’d want an agent to sense. The agent wants to know that the reader is going to bond and learn from a child.
    I think labelling with animals is an excellent idea for kids. Every child learns the personalities of animals through books – kids love animals!
    Jamie Donahue’s concern is something to think ponder. Could you have the animals come without the ‘zoo’ venue?
    I strong story idea!

  8. Jeannette Suhr says:

    I would love to read this book and learn coping skills that I could teach to my grandsons should they need them. I agree with some comments above and I wondered if a pitch like the following might help –
    6YO Adam struggles with tiger growling anxiety and rhino stomping anger in “The Worry Zoo Inside Me”. He yearns and learns to become a zookeeper who can tame them all.

  9. Patricia J. Franz (@patriciajfranz1) says:

    Robin, My comments are divided between the story concept and the pitch. I love the concept! SEL is huge and given all the upheaval in the past 18mos, I would imagine there will continue to be a great demand for this kind of PB. The best concept books have well established layers. You have a great start with the base being a child’s worries and a vehicle for expressing them. But as others have indicated, you might need to ground this in some sort of arc (a day in the life, a friend moving away, going to sleep, etc). And then, perhaps think about your MC… does it need to be a human? Can it be another animal? Maybe a bug? (a bug who’s worried about being eaten by all these animals?)… Maybe consider adding some rising action — Can there be a “ticking time bomb” — something the person/animal/bug must accomplish or complete by a certain time? I will say this about your pitch: I actually was drawn in… primarily because of the premise (worry/anxiety) and that I think books like this are going to be in demand. That being said, you will need to write a pitch for your revision! So keep going!

  10. robincurrie1 says:

    Thank you all! Great feedback. Here’s a perkier version….

    “I have a Worry Zoo inside me.” That is what the child feels about all the emotions growing inside her and escaping as animal behavior. Bear grows and stomps, porcupine prickles, monkey is silly. Loud and crowded! With help, the child discovers self-soothing techniques to tame the animals and become the Zookeeper.

  11. palpbkids says:

    Hi Robin, This is an amazing concept. Love it! I veer from other opinions in that the zoo concept is real for kids and sets your story apart from all the other emotional needs books on the market today or currently being proposed. However, your pitch is vague and telling. (Don’t mean to be so direct, but I want to see this story published.) I don’t feel your MC’s emotion. You tell me about it, but until you show me, I do not connect. Consider starting your pitch with a hard, clearly focused logline that shows the agent/editor/reader, up front, the emotional connection/worry of the MC by using whatever emotion you are writing about (whether it be worry or sadness, or both) and do this in a descriptive example. Perhaps a line out of your story that shows, not tells, the emotion your MC (and state her name) feels. You can write about the animal’s hardships/strain by showing us a picture in words or by adding sounds. Make this hit home. Make it compelling. Best Wishes😊.
    P.S. I see a big market for this story that surpass the PB age group. Animal welfare. Teen blogs. Etc. See the emotional impact this can make that crosses the age barriers?

    • robincurrie1 says:

      Thanks for the support! This book predates COVID! And the pitch had gotten flat. I appreciate all the encouragement to keep going.

  12. Sally Cressman says:

    I am definitely trying the pumpkin chocolate chip bread recipe!

    Robin, I, too, love the idea of a worrying zoo but agree the pitch needs more specifics, energy, and sparkles words.

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