Would You Read It Wednesday #401 – Don’t Think About Lions! (PB)

What a busy week it has been! Apparently we’re at Wednesday already, and do you know what that means?

It means that since tomorrow is Thanksgiving I can no longer put off cleaning my house.

I’ve been waiting for it to clean itself.

I’ve been incredibly patient, if I do say so myself.

But at this point I think it’s safe to say it’s not going to happen so, desperate times calling for desperate measures and all that means it’s up to me.

Some people love to clean. I love things to BE clean, I just don’t like to be the one who has to get them that way 😊 When I’m Queen, I’m going to get someone to do it for me 😊 I’ll take care of their horses and they can clean my palace!

Wow. Just thinking about having to clean makes me require Something Chocolate. We better have something good. I think I’ve got just the thing!

Salted Caramel Cookie Dough Billionaire Bars

Recipe HERE at Oh,BiteIt!

I feel fairly confident that with enough of those I can get the house clean 😊

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Melissa who says, “I have spent the last 15 years living in Tanzania as an English teacher, a journalist and then as a wife, mum and storyteller.”

Find her on the web at Twitter: @MelissaKValente

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Don’t Think About Lions!

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

The Pitch: DON’T: Told not to do something, our minds often wander to doing that very thing. When mum goes out, she leaves a series of instructions, including: “Don’t think about lions!”, but this cheeky monkey and his renegade bush baby buddy get so focused on meeting a lion that they break all the rules. The refrain ‘what if we just…’? encourages little readers to turn the page and follow these wild risk-takers as they get closer and closer and ultimately learn their lesson, in this 400-word rhyming adventure. 

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 Melissa 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 a little 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!

Melissa is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to seeing lots of family this weekend for Thanksgiving! (Even if it does mean I have to clean the house 😊😊😊)

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone, and a delicious, delightful, happy, healthy, family Thanksgiving!!! 😊

34 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #401 – Don’t Think About Lions! (PB)

  1. Norah says:

    This sounds like such a fun book. I’d definitely read it. I was once a little monkey myself and there is nothing more enticing to a little monkey than being told to not do something. I think children will love it.

  2. Nadine Poper says:

    Hi Melissa. Your story sounds like it has a funny cast of characters who get themselves into quite a predicament with a lion. Yes I would read it.
    I think the pitch could be a bit tighter. I would delete the DON’T and the first sentence. Begin the pitch with “When mum goes out she leaves….” Perhaps replace the words ‘Don’t think about lions” with “Don’t talk to lions.” There isn’t as much harm in thinking about something as there is in talking to someone we don’t know.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you.

    • melissakayvalente says:

      Thanks Nadine. The DON’T at the beginning seems to be there in error! But it seems there is full agreement about dropping that first sentence – definitely will run with that. I can’t make it about taking to lions since the entire story is triggered by him being told not to think about lions, which makes him think about them so much that he ignores everything mum said as he searches for one and ultimately needs to run away from one! But perhaps the quote (and possibly my title) is misleading if you are left feeling that he only thinks about them. Would adding a word – ‘Don’t even think about lions!’ help at all?

      • melissakayvalente says:

        Having just read through all the comments – you are referenced in so many as having captured the edit requirements for this that I just wanted to check back in and say thanks again. Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving. Melissa

  3. Marta Cutler says:

    You had me at the title! I love the idea. It sounds lots of fun and right up a child’s alley. I think the pitch could be a touch tighter. I also agree with Nadine about changing “Don’t think…” to “Don’t talk…” It’s still wildly intriguing! Good luck!

    • melissakayvalente says:

      Thank you Marta. Glad the subversive title worked for you! Definitely will be taking Nadine’s points on board to tighten this up.

  4. katiefischerwrites says:

    It definitely peaks my interest in reading it, especially since I have a kid who is big into reading monkey antics like Five Little Monkeys and Little Monkey Says Goodnight.

    I did have the same thought on tightening as Nadine that it could work to start at “when mum leaves…”
    Also, if this is for a query pitch you could probably move the information after “lesson” to the paragraph that includes comp titles and your title.

    Good luck, it sounds like a lot of fun to read!

    • melissakayvalente says:

      ooh thank you for the potential comps – I will check those out! And thanks for your edit suggestions – I think I am in full agreement 🙂

  5. palpbkids says:

    Hi Melissa, This sounds like a lot of action and fun instore for its reader!
    I know my kids love monkeys!

    I’ve noticed that negatives are frowned upon. Perhaps you might consider revising without the ‘Don’t’, as others have commented on as well. The words ‘get so’ could be simplified to: ‘are focused’. I would love to feel the adventure instead of being told it’s a ‘wild adventure’. Would you be amenable to including some action verbs? The words ‘wild risk takers’ really got my attention. Show us how they are risk takers.

    This is telling: Told not to do something, our minds often wander to doing that very thing.
    We need to feel the action. Is there a sentence you can pull from the story to show us?
    Maybe include one refrain with the ‘what if…”?

    For example: “Don’t think about lions!” says Mum. But when this cheeky monkey and his renegade bush baby buddy begin to think, ‘what if we just….?”, these wild risk-takers [insert an active phrase from your story].

    Some agents/editors require a word count, some do not, with picture books.

    I’m super excited to see this story on the shelves!! Monkey stories never get tiring:)

    Best of luck!

    • melissakayvalente says:

      Thank you for taking time to offer so many helpful hints. I will definitely be putting these to good use! And thank you for being so positive and supportive. It helps so much that the wonderful PB community is so kind.

  6. robincurrie1 says:

    Oh my YES – this has the earmarks of a great read aloud! Have you paged it out yet to make sure the page turns match the mounting excitement? Good luck!

    • melissakayvalente says:

      Thank you Robin! Loving your caps! I sure have. There’s plenty of drama and humour at every delicious ellipsis!

      I have that lovely fizzy feeling that this might just be ‘the one’, but then you know how it goes – I’ll probably feel totally ridiculous next week and wonder how I ever thought I could do this!

  7. ptnozell says:

    Melissa, I’d read this story, but I agree with other comments above that the first & last sentences can be removed from the pitch, with some of the information given elsewhere in the query letter. I also think you can stop the now-first sentence after the quotation, and start the new sentence with “But…” Do the cheeky monkey and bush baby friend have names? If so, I’d include them to help build empathy for them.

    Susanna, good idea to fortify yourself with these chocolaty treats. If you eat a few & keep some for guests, you’ll all be on such a sugar high that no one will notice if you’ve cleaned…or not! At least that’s what I plan to do with my dusty, fur-filled apartment!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • melissakayvalente says:

      Thank you PTNozell – yes, I am totally on board with making cuts to this and just leaving the jam filling! Happy Thanksgiving to you too 🙂

  8. authorlaurablog says:

    I’m a yes! I think Nadine’s comments summed up my thoughts so I won’t retype them. I love repeating refrains and it sounds like a fun story.
    Susanna, I try to avoid your tempting treats but this one has me drooling on the iPad. If you make them for someone, maybe they’ll clean your house. Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. Karen Condit says:

    Yes, I would read it! Sounds so fun!
    I have nothing to add to the comments above. I would for sure tighten it up. Don’t need the first line. Begin with the second. Always good to have the title of the book in the pitch. You might play around with that a little more since you address it in a quote.
    Just a thought! Love the idea! Good luck!!

  10. Jeannette Suhr says:

    Yes, Melissa, I would read your story. One suggestion is to give us a hint of some rhyme. I think an example or two would help intrigue us and set the stage for your rhyming book.
    Good luck with this one!

    • melissakayvalente says:

      Thanks Jan 🙂 I wasn’t sure how well quotes are received in a pitch, but since it doesn’t seem to be a no, I could extend the quote to include the rhyme.

  11. Genevieve Petrillo says:

    Such a fun idea. The pitch would be fine without the first sentence. I would definitely read it if I knew how to read. I feel this monkey! Whenever Mom tells me not to lick the floor, I get crazy licking it! Great pitch. Good luck!

    Love and licks,

  12. sharonmariemccarthy says:

    This is good. Tightening could help at the word refrain. Maybe also start another paragraph at this point for the take away. A example of your rhyme would also make a nice reading flow. I would maybe read this if the conflict is a little stronger as to what could possibly happen when they venture from the rules..

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