Monday, June 15, 2015

QK Round 2: Eavesdropping Monkey vs. Impressionistic Cow

Entry Nickname: Eavesdropping Monkey
Word count: 650
Genre: Children’s Picture Book - Funny


The elephants are planning a family reunion. When the monkeys overhear, they decide to have one, too. But they’re not the only ones. The whole family reunion concept is too good to miss out on and it spreads across the jungle like a Savanna grass fire! Soon the watering hole is filled to capacity with animals of different species; which causes a real bungle in the jungle. Tempers flare as each species fights for their right to reunite with their own kind. Finally, a wise frog speaks up with a whole new concept that blows the family reunion idea right out of the watering hole! FAMILY REUNION is an amusing tale of diversity and acceptance. It is approximately 650 words and is written mainly for the 4-8 age range.

First 50 words:

On a hot, steamy day in the Jungle of Kree,
A sly, nosey monkey swung from a tree.
He was eavesdropping on a large elephant herd,
And he hung there and listened to every last word.

“We’ll invite all our cousins from near and afar,”
Said the matriarch queen named Ali Dalmar.


Entry Nickname:
The Impressionistic Cow
Word count: 471
Genre: Picture Book

There’s a gorgeous, grassy world out there! See how a talented cow paints it in CLYDE MOONET.

This picture book for ages 4 to 8 is based on the life of Claude Monet. Clyde is tired of painting inside like other artists in his herd, yet no one understands his impressionistic style. Until he paints a series for his hay-stacking brother Biff that changes everything.

CLYDE MOONET is infused with nonfiction elements, such as actual quotes from Claude Monet and back material highlighting aspects of Monet’s life that parallel this story.

First 50 Words:

Clyde Moonet was supposed to paint with his class. But while others painted
vanilla ice cream,
and milk jugs,

Clyde painted the pasture’s color and light.

“You call this ice cream?” Monsieur Milkypants asked.

“Nature is the source of my inspiration,” Clyde replied.

He knew there was more to painting than painting inside.


  1. Rhyming is out of style in PBs right now, and I like the educational aspect of The Impressionistic Cow -- my vote would be for it. Good luck to both authors.

  2. Judges, please reply to this comment.

    1. Sorry, I thought I hit reply here, but apparently I have an epic case of the Mondays. My comments/vote are below.

    2. Monkey: I think you are off to a great start, but I'd like to see more voice in the query and fewer exclamation marks. Show, don't tell us that it's an amusing tale. That said, I think the toddler set will like it a lot.

      Cow: I love the premise of this and the cow puns. I think you can delete the first line of the query and start with Claude Moonet was tired of painting, or something like that. Trust that the reader will get it. Then lower in the query continue with the fact that it is based on Monet's works.


    3. Eavesdropping Monkey

      Query: I love the voice in your query. This sounds like something my kids would’ve loved when they were young. Bungle in the jungle – ha! I’m still not big on the exclamation points, but I don’t know if their usage is common in PBs.

      First 50: It’s hard to gauge a story with just fifty words, but it's great how you jump right into the plot mentioned in your query. I really enjoyed the rhyming.

      Clyde Moonet

      Query: I honestly don’t know much about PB queries, but I wonder if this would sound more fun if it was presented like it was from Claude’s pov, rather than you, the author, telling us what the story is about.

      First 50: I laugh out loud every time I read Milkypants, cowbells, milk jugs. And I really like the idea of a cow impressionist painter. It sounds unique and different.

      Now to decide. Such a tough choice, because I think both are fun and unique in their own way. But, since I’m a dairy farmer’s daughter, I’ll have to give VICTORY TO: CLYDE MOONET

    4. Wow! Both of these PBs are so unique and fun and so different. I hope to see both of these on store shelves soon. Now, to try to give constructive feedback for both.

      Eavesdropping Monkey:
      I love this book. It’s fun and lively and your rhyming is fantastic, which is not an easy task. In rhyming PBs you either have it or you don’t. And you have it so nice job!

      Query: You query is clear and easy to read but I think you can tighten it up a bit more. Combine the first two sentences, shorten it a bit, and break up the paragraph for easier reading. Something like this:

      When the monkeys overhear the elephants planning a family reunion, they decide to have one, too. But they aren’t the only ones and soon the family reunion concept spreads across the jungle like a Savanna grass fire.

      With the watering hole filled to capacity with a sorts of different species, tempers flare as each fight for their right to reunite with their own kind causing a real bungle in the jungle. That is until a wise frog speaks up with a whole new concept that blows the family reunion idea right out of the watering hole!

      FAMILY REUNION is an amusing tale of diversity and acceptance. At approximately 650 words, this fun- filled, rollicking rhyme will appeal to the 4 – 8 age range.

      First 50: I absolutely love this first 50! It shows your knowledge of rhyme and rhythm and if I were an agent I would request to read the rest. Your meter is spot on and your word choices are fantastic. VERY nicely done.

      The Impressionistic Cow:
      What a fun, unique twist on a picture book. I love the idea of turning Monet into paint loving cow! That is definitely not something on the market today that I know of.

      Query: I think your query needs more voice of the story in it. The first line can be used inside the query vs. as a first solo line. And your age range should be at the end with the nonfiction elements section.

      Something like this, but since I don’t know the entire story other than the first 50, see if you can include more voice from it. Some of the fun details like Monsieur Milkypants, which is hilarious!

      Clyde is tired of painting inside like other artists in his herd, yet no one, including Monsieur Milkypants understands his impressionistic style. Until he paints a series for his hay-stacking brother Biff that changes everything.

      Tag along and discover the gorgeous, grassy world outside and see how a talented cow paints it in CLYDE MOONET. (Something like this yet better. I don’t know the story so I couldn’t build on it here. But this would be a great place for this line.)

      CLYDE MOONET is infused with nonfiction elements, such as actual quotes from Claude Monet and back material highlighting aspects of Monet’s life that parallel this story. At approximately ? words, this clever twist on the life of Claude Monet will appeal to the 4 – 8 range. (maybe even include here that it can be used as supplemental material in the classroom)

      First 50 : Your first 50 is fantastic. I love the cow and milk puns and would want to read the rest to see how you cleverly portray Monet. Very nice job!

      Ugh. This is so hard to decide. I love them both! And they are each so unique and different that I do hope to see both of them on store shelves. But if I were standing in a bookstore and could only choose one of these I'd have to pick up Eavesdropping Monkey simply because I'm a rhymer too and I always love a good rhyming PB with lots of humor and fun illustrations which I see this book as having. That said, I would definitely be putting CLYDE on my to buy list.

      Victory goes to Eavesdropping Monkey.

    5. Bookalicious MamaJune 16, 2015 at 2:56 PM

      Eavesdropping Monkey: I love the concept you have going on, adding in the diversity with animals and all. As far as your query goes, I'm not too familiar with PB, BUT I do have one nitpicky thing. Maybe it's just me, but the wording of "each species fights" seems bumbled. If I were you, I'd say: each specie fights, instead. Seems more clear, to me. As far as the first 50 go, I'm all for rhyming in PB. And someone above said it's out. Maybe it is, and I'm clueless, but I think the rhyming adds some spunk, and I love that. My kid would love this one.

      Clyde Moonet: Interesting idea, adding in the non-fiction elements. And your query seems to be pretty clean. The problem for me, is that it just doesn't draw me in. I think somehow adding in a bit of the character's voice in it somehow. A little humor, maybe? It's a concise query and this is definitely subjective, too. Your first 50 is good, and that DOES draw me in, though. It's very well written, and I don't see much of anything to change.

      But because I'm a rhyme lover at heart (and because I'm a sucker for jungle books in PB, too) I have to say...

      Victory to :Eavesdropping Monkey

    6. Eavesdropping Monkey:

      I love when I read through a query without pause. This is very tight and my only comment would be to cut unnecessary words like "whole" and "mainly" that slow the rhythm of the query. Also, suggest losing all the exclamation points.

      First 250: Great start. You get us right in the setting and we know Monkey is up to something.

      Impressionistic Cow

      I'd cut all your intro and get right to the meat of your query, "Clyde is tired..." You can add reference to Monet and age range to the bottom of your query for clarity.

      First 250:

      Solid intro. Like how we are immediately introduced to tone and theme of story.

      Victory to: Eavesdropping Monkey

    7. Haley James ScottJune 17, 2015 at 1:51 PM

      Eavesdropping Monkey
      Oh man, what a fun idea! I’m a teacher and I can’t wait to read this to my classroom. I would suggest switching up some word choices so it sounds less repetitive and more fresh. For example, “When the monkeys overhear, they decide to have ONE, too. But they’re not the only ONES.” Switch it up to something like “They decide to throw a bash too.” Instead of “family reunion concept” (which sounds like you’re discussing this generally, not pitching a specific idea), say “Family reunions are too good to miss out on and the idea spreads…” The rest of it sounds fabulous to me. Hack some of the supporting words like “Mainly” and exclamation points—your query speaks for itself without those.

      First 250:
      Words like “matriarch" are pretty advanced for a 4-8 range (eight would understand but four may not) so you might want to make that more simple, like “mama” or “motherly”. Otherwise, the rhyming gives it a great, consistent pace, which makes reading it so fun. I love rhyming books!

      The Impressionistic Cow:
      This is educational and creative—this teacher approves. I think the description of Clyde being tired of painting like others in the herd could be broken down a little differently—the sentence, “Until he paints a series for his hay-stacking brother Biff that changes everything” seems abrupt because your sentences before and after are fully constructed. I would suggest either combining it with the previous sentence or rewriting the two so it flows better. This is just a (shoddy) example but maybe:
      “Clyde is tired of painting inside like everyone else—they don’t understand his impressionistic style. His hay-stacking brother Biff gives him a chance to show his work and the series Clyde paints makes everyone exclaim, “Holy cow!” The main thing is that children 4-8 (mostly) can read so the back of the book has to appeal to them, and in turn, the query has to read like the back of said book. The first sentence in this query can probably go…Let Clyde speak first and then add the “parental” information. It reads more like an informational packet than a story pitch right now but it’ll only take a few tweaks to turn it into the latter. Great concept!

      Victory goes to EAVESDROPPING MONKEY!

    8. Eavesdropping Monkey: This is incredibly charming! I think this sounds amazing, and I love both the query and the sample. My only comment is the use of the word ‘Kree’ in the first line. It works, but the Kree are a pretty famous alien race in the Marvel universe, so it might be worth considering changing it, if at all possible.

      The Impressionistic Cow: this is cute, charming, and I think your title is perfect for a picture book! Your first 50 is also incredibly strong. The only thing I’d suggest changing is your use of the phrase: ‘that changes everything’. The reason to avoid that is because it’s vague. How does everything change?

      This is really close, and I think both of these entries are going to do really well, but VICTORY TO EAVESDROPPING MONKEY

  3. I need to preface my comments with this: my knowledge of picture books is pretty limited. I know very little about trends or overdone concepts. So my comments should be taken with a grain (or three) of salt.

    Eavesdropping Monkey
    Query: This is a tight, clear query. I understand the concept of your manuscript without struggling to connect the dots. (This might seem basic, but it’s often very hard to do.) My only suggestions are very small and nitpicky: I’d cut the “mainly” from the last line and say it’s “written for the 4-8 range.” I’m not convinced your semicolon is correct (but I too am a semicolon offender), so maybe look this up. Make sure your compound sentences include a comma between parts (The whole family reunion concept…, and it spreads across the jungle…). See? Tiny things. This is a solid query. It’s streamlined and easy to read. It has voice. Great job.
    First 50: Very cute. Great rhythm to this. My only issue was that—just from reading these 50 words—I wasn’t sure if Ali Dalmar was an elephant or a monkey. However, I’m guessing that might be clarified in the next lines. (If not, subbing “elephant” for “matriarch” would be a simple fix.) Again, great job. I would buy this for my nieces in a heartbeat.

    Impressionistic Cow
    Query: First of all, I adore this concept. I love saying the name Clyde Moonet aloud—in fact, I’ve said it three times just typing this. I’m not crazy about your opening lines. I think the query would be stronger if you jumped straight into the story instead of giving us a generic line about a gorgeous world. Perhaps something like “Clyde Moonet has always been the most talented artist in his herd. But no one understands his impressionistic style. Until…” I’d also like to know a little more about how he “changes everything.” How does this series change things? Does he become famous and go on some sort of cow painting tour? Does he get sent to the slaughter house? It could be anything, so I think we need more specific information to really feel invested here. The inclusion of the nonfiction elements is really intriguing—and I think you worded that very well. Great job.
    First 50: How hard did I laugh at “Monsieur Milkpants”? Very hard. I also love all the milk references, very cute. Are you intentionally rhyming with the “Clyde replied” because it felt a little out of place to me. I’m not sure I understand the use of italics with his dialogue, but I’m assuming this is related to the nonfiction elements. Again, this is a great concept and unlike other picture books I’ve seen before. Nicely done.

    Victory to: I have no idea who to vote for here. These are both fabulous. I would happily pick either of them up in a book store. Overall, I think Eavesdropping Monkey’s query is a little more polished so that’s going to be the tipping point for me. Victory to Eavesdropping Monkey.

  4. My kiddo and I love a good PB!

    Monkey: I feel like the query has some great elements, but there's just too much to it and it's kind of long as is. Breaking it up into a few paragraphs might help.

    We still love a good rhyming PB in my house, and I think the 50 here are good.

    Cow: Like the query, think the 50 is good. I was sold at Monsieur Milkypants.

  5. I have three children. I've read A LOT of picture books. But...would I know how to write a query for one? Probably not! That said, here are my opinions:

    Monkey: Love jungle stories! There's a lot going on in the query though, and I have to wonder if it's a bit too much? I love the first 50, as well. I don't think rhymes will ever go "out of style" - ask any four-year-old.

    Cow: I like the streamlined query. I think turning Monet into a painting cow is very clever! I have to wonder if you were also an art history student, author. ;) The first 50 start the story off well - I get this wonderful mental image of M. Milkypants (ha!) without the benefit of a description or an illustration.

    Good luck to both entrants!

  6. Fellow QK'er, K. A. Reynolds. :)

    Monkey: I love the concept and the rhyming is lovely (as a poet, who's also written several rhyming picture books, that meter and non-cliched rhyme is extremely important and quite difficult to pull of well). So good job. :)

    Moonet: Loved this last time and love it now. Great concept and picture books that bring art appreciation into little one's lives is so important. Good luck, both of you. This one was tough! Judges, how do you guys pick? They're both great!

  7. Eavesdropping monkey: Love how you've reworked the query. Much clearer and so much fun. Makes me want to have a kid to read this to. Fi.rst 50: For me, absolutely perfect. Again, wish I had a kid to read it to.

    Impressionistic Cow: This is wildly original. Incredible concept. With the query, I don't think you need the first two lines. I'd rather see you jump right into the story. And I'd love to know just how painting for his brother changes everything.

    First 50: I am no expert on little kids books, but wonder if some of the languaging is a bit too advanced for the four year olds? Is the line, "nature is the source of my inspiration" a direct quote from Monet? Perhaps another character can ask what that means so you can explain it, if it is a direct quote. I'd love to see more of this. I can imagine both kids and their parents adoring this book.

  8. Eavesdropping Monkey

    Solid query, but I think I would split this into two paragraphs between “jungle” and “Tempers”.

    Something feels off in the last two lines of the first paragraph. Perhaps drop “He was” and “And” from the beginning of those lines?

    I’m a big fan of rhyming kids’ books, so I think this is precious and would enjoy reading it aloud.

    Impressionistic Cow

    Much improved opening, though I think you could start with "Clyde is tired..." I would move the bit about the intended audience to the last paragraph.

    Ah ha! I see that Biff is now a hay-stacking cow…clever hint about the direction of Clyde’s paintings. Instead of “changes everything”, perhaps you could be more specific about what changes for Clyde (or Biff? or the herd?).

    Still in love with this book. ☺