8 on Eight: September Contest Feedback

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Thank you to all the brave souls who entered this month’s 8 on Eight contest! Sharing your writing takes courage, and we appreciate your enthusiasm for our contest.

If your name wasn’t drawn from the Triwizard cup this time around, keep an eye out for when our next contest window opens at 8 PM on September 30th. Below, we’ve posted the first 8 lines from this month’s winner, along with feedback from at least eight of our members. We also encourage our readers to share their (constructive) suggestions and encouragement in the comments section below.

One Two Green – Picture Book

The animals are all hiding at our favourite zoo.
Where can they be? Mr Monkey – I see blue!

The meerkats are cheeky; trying their best not to be seen.
But we’ve spotted a few. There’s one… two… green.

I pink I saw a pelican paddling on the lake
And look! A purple popped his head up like a snake.

Yellow there Mrs Zebra! You’re a little bright my dear.
Look out Mr Giraffe! We’re all the way brown here.

Jessica: This is the type of story that is fun to snuggle up and read with a toddler. But the rhythms don’t feel consistent and I can’t quite put my finger on the connection between the specific animals and the colors mentioned with them. And then the numbers in the title make me think there’s a third connection between animals, numbers, and colors that I’m missing (and need to understand to fully engage with the story). Hope this feedback helps–thanks for sharing!

Gita: Thanks for sharing this story with us! Toddlers love zoos and they love to look for animals (or people, or objects) described in a book, so you’ve got some thematic connections to your listeners right off the bat. Because there are quite a few zoo-visit picture books, you might want to consider how you would pitch your version. That is, what unique take on the zoo-visit story are you offering? Good luck with your revisions and happy writing!

Michelle: This looks like it has the potential to be a cute concept book with fun rhymes. If this is a concept book, I think you should give some thought to what concept you want to demonstrate. If you’ve chosen colors, numbers, and animals, I think stepping back and working on how these concepts interrelate will help you find a way to help your preschool readers make important connections that will help them understand our world. That being said, doing so with three concepts will be a bit tricky. Here’s an article that may be useful: Concept Books for Young Children. Best of luck and please keep in touch with us!

Kristi: I’m a sucker for a great PB and I can already imagine some of the illustrations in this. I think my BIGGEST comment is going to be on rhyme. If you’re going to do it, you have to be a master. Here’s an excellent blog post by Josh Funk (whose books you should definitely check out– he does rhyme like Dr. Seuss himself!): here and here. The place it stuck out to me the most is: And look! A purple popped his head up like a snake. I get it, you want to keep the meter, but then you sacrifice the style and it makes it sound very amateur. I DO however LOOOOOVE it how you’ve used “yellow”, “pink” and “brown” as other words. That is outstanding! Again, though, those words sound like the words you’re trying to say, so There’s one… two… green feels off to me. Bottom line, keep it consistent.

Karin:  What a colorful idea for a picture book! Your idea to pun on the colors will, I am sure, delight readers. I like how you use colors as verbs and nouns with the animals, but not sure it works when you replace the animal with a color as in “purple” for “turtle.” Your sentences are dynamic and snappy but your meter is not consistent. Rhyme isn’t just about rhyming the end word, it’s about the rhythm or beat of each line. For more on this check out Dori Chaconas’ wonderful post entitled Icing on the Cake: Writing in Rhyme and Rhythm. Good luck!

Halli: Thanks for sharing your writing with us. I like to see books about animals because boys and girls love them. As for the story itself, I do think you have a lot going on. Animals, colors, and numbers. They do not seem to be used consistently, which may confuse the reader as to the true story you are trying to tell. I would suggest choosing two of the three and basing your story on those. Hope our feedback helps!

Katharine: I love wordplay and picture books, so this one is really fun for me. I am crazy for the line “I pink I saw a pelican…”! I would encourage you to go even further with silly lines like that (and “Yellow there, Mrs. Zebra!” So good!), and to do it consistently throughout. Consider dropping the rhyme. I don’t think you need it, and focusing on the puns with the color is enough work (and fun!). Without the rhyme, you can more easily explain the game, which I am guessing is a spot the animal picture, with the relevant animal in the color you mention. Such a great concept. Of your puns, I didn’t think “green” worked well for “three” (so I would also suggest trying to find a different title) and I wasn’t sure what “purple” was supposed to be. The others I was able to figure out, and the illustrations will help. Best of luck with this one, and thanks for sharing!

Richelle: Thanks for sharing! I am a novice PB writer, but I do have a couple of thoughts for you. I agree with my fellow Pennies — your wordplay is super cute! (Like Katharine, I LOVED “Yellow there, Mrs. Zebra!”) In those spots, I can really visualize what might be happening on the page. I also agree that there may be too many concepts. In the first eight lines, I feel like we should have a strong sense of what your book is (i.e./a color concept book, a find-the-hidden-picture book, an animal book, a counting book), and right now, I’m not sure which of those concepts you’re going for. I did take a PB seminar at the SCBWI Oregon Conference, and one of the tips I gleaned from that was to make a dummy, complete with your own stick-figure drawings. When I did that for my WIP, I was able to see much more clearly how the story should unfold. You might try that and see how it shapes up. Good luck!

Sussu: Thank you for sharing this amazing story.

After I read this story, at first, I thought well, someone got carried away.       The first thing I noticed was what I thought was a spelling mistake, “I pink” for “I think”. The fact that the story plays with the alliterations made me reconsider. I took a step back, and after a second look, I laughed. I believe the kids will do the same and will want to come back to the PB to catch all the little details they missed. I love especially this part, “I pink I saw a pelican paddling on the lake.” AndYellow there Mrs Zebra!” for “hello there!”  And “purple” for “turtle.”

At first, I didn’t know what you were doing with a blue monkey, a cheeky meerkat, a pelican paddling, a purple popping its head, a bright zebra. What? But it’s just irresistible. It’s nonsensical. I can already see the kids looking at the pictures in shock, then paying more attention to the words, and finally decide that this PB is just silly but so interesting. Wait for giggles and good hearty laughs. Wait for them to create nonsensical words too. It’s so important to sensibilize little kids to words and the language.

That’s exactly what you want to do with a PB, make the kids react and laugh. And think, think, think! I believe this work is brilliant! Thanks for sharing and surprise me. I’m glad you entered the bot.








3 thoughts on “8 on Eight: September Contest Feedback

  1. Congratulations and thanks for sharing! Great feedback for you to consider for your story! Fantastic imagery and “I pink I saw a pelican paddling on the lake” made me smile. Good luck!

  2. How lovely to wake up to all this wonderful feedback. You’ve all been so generous with your thoughts, wisdom and ideas. I feel like I’ve got a bit more clarity now and look forward to visiting my colourful friends in the zoo as I muddle through the next draft with them. Thanks so much!

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