Thank you to everyone who submitted their pitches for this contest.  Pitching is HARD, and it takes guts to put one out there for all to see.

We had 91 qualifying entries for the contest, so it was stiff competition.  The only entries that were disqualified were those whose pitches went over 140 characters.

I want to say how difficult it was to judge this contest.  I know judges always say that, but it’s TRUE.  There were three of us, and in our first cuts, we had lists with lots of variation – more than I expected.  We had to make many compromises, and each one of us had entries that we LOVED that got left on the cutting room floor.  It was a huge eye-opener for me.  I finally realize just exactly how subjective this business is.

Remember, if your pitch did not get selected for the final round, that does not mean there is something wrong with your story.  It might mean that your pitch needs more work.  So keep practicing!

Entry #1

PITCH: Marcus wants a brother. So he builds his own “brobot”, only to find that having a little brother – especially a robotic one – isn’t easy.

FIRST LINE: Marcus wanted a brother to play with, but his mom wouldn’t give him one, and he didn’t have enough money to buy one.

Entry #2

PITCH: Frenella magics up a baseball gown, a spaceship, and bunny slippers, and discovers there’s more than one way to make a dream come true.

FIRST LINE: “I’ll be the only fairy there without grey hair,” moaned Frenella.

Entry #3

PITCH: Louella LONGS to holler. A loud parade rallies to help find her voice, including a squeaky otter, a loyal hummingbird, and a bump on a log.

FIRST LINE: Louella McGuffey wanted to holler, but all she could do was hum.

Entry #4

PITCH: After a week Maya’s mud puddle is teeming with life. What are those fast swimmy things, and how did they get there? Nonfiction/ecology.

FIRST LINE: After yesterday’s rain I am ready for puddle stomping.

Entry #5

PITCH: Emily is tugging on heartstrings, and trusting her Grammy in the Moon to guide her as she faces the joys and pains of becoming a big sister.

FIRST LINE: At night, when the sun has gone to bed and the stars twinkle, Emily leans into the moonlight.

Entry #6

PITCH: Paige, a dedicated reader, strives to save the library from an ending-eating wallop.

FIRST LINE: Sitting in the front row at storyhour, Paige leaned forward, eager to hear the ending of the story.

Entry #7

PITCH: Brianna’s parents won’t buy her a new doll so she creates businesses to earn money to buy one herself but she buys something she needs more.

FIRST LINE: Brianna stared at the doll.

Entry #8

PITCH: Lucy, feel-good guru at The Treetop Spa, invites used, worn-down stuffed animals to come to her clubhouse to re-ignite their fluffiness.

FIRST LINE: Do you or a stuffed one need a little TLS (tender-loving stuff)?

Entry #9

PITCH: Penny doesn’t like to travel, explore or buy things. How can she find happiness if she doesn’t like doing what pennies are suppose to do?

FIRST LINE: Penny looked like all the other cents.

Entry #10

PITCH: Paula McHale must deliver valentines, but her wagon’s busted and her horse is lame. A devoted hound brings suitor Sean the answer he seeks.


Paula McHale delivers the mail
From Tillinocket to Blarneyvale,
From Dingle Bay to Barkley-on-Fen,
To Ballybunion and back again.

Entry #11

PITCH: A pair of peas want to go on a pirate adventure, but it’s bedtime, and Momma Pea has other plans.


Penelopea One and Penelopea Two

Had something very important to do:

Maps to read, seas to sail,

Treasure to find. They would not fail.

Entry #12

PITHC: When the sun sinks in the sky, the stars start waking one by one. And what do stars do all night? They bake moon cake!

When blushing billows wave goodbye
To Old-man Sun in westward sky,
The diamond studded bears awake (Ursa Major and Minor)
And mix a batch of full moon cake.

Entry #13

PITCH: A little girl overcomes all her fears in order to find her stolen cat. A big surprise is waiting for her at the end!

FIRST LINE: Last night a witch stole my best friend, Misty

Entry #14

PITCH: Space is a place of opposites. Burning stars and icy comets. Roaring rockets and silent stillness. An ancient universe and newborn planets.

FIRST LINE: Space is a place of opposites.

Entry #15

PITCH: In a world where libraries lend out storybook characters, Eliza settles for a fairy godmother when the library runs out of princesses.

FIRST LINE: Eliza and her mother waited in a line that wound around the library parking lot.

Entry #16

PITCH: Though an unlikely couple, a hippo and a lion dance their way around the world. They return home, exhausted… yet full of love.

Our friends said we’re a silly pair,
with my big, round butt and your poufy hair.
But, we found the rhythm and together we twirled,
as we began our dance around the world.

Entry #17

PITCH: Elly is wild to save her favorite endangered zoo animal – but big brother claims there’s no such thing as Unicorns! Then what are those?

FIRST LINE: I am the luckiest girl in the world.

Entry #18

PITCH: Arabella is desperate to keep Penweezle, an ex-witch’s cat, but convincing her family is not easy, especially when the cat tries to help.

FIRST LINE: It was just before teatime when the doorbell rang and Arabella found a cat on the doorstep.

Entry #19

PITCH: When Ichabinda Switch, apprentice witch, decides to “make” a cat she lacks the required ingredients and improvises with disastrous results.

FIRST LINE: Ichabinda Switch was waiting for the Witch’s Council to arrive.

Entry #20

PITCH: Peter Potato is an average spud growing in the garden till he is uprooted. With much at stake, the garden veggies try to solve a who-dug-it.

FIRST LINE: Peter Potato woke up to the cool, crisp air and shivered.

Entry #21

PITCH: A little girl’s spunky ingenuity transforms a cardboard box into much more, when going to Grandpa’s for “Think-Up Day” becomes an adventure.

FIRST LINE: “Finally…it’s Think-Up Day” Joey sang as she hopped down the stairs.

Entry #22

PITCH: Esther is a fashionista sheep trying to bring a little style to her flock, but finding the perfect accessories on a ranch isn’t easy at all.

FIRST LINE: Nothing made Esther happier than trying on different outfits.

Entry #23

PITCH: Are you ready for a French nickname? To get fluffy? To save a flower? A charming dandelion enlists the your help in NAPOLEON BLOWN APART.

FIRST LINE: Bonjour. I am Napoleon. Yes, yes, I know, I am very beautiful. My lovely yellow petals shine like the golden sun.

Entry #24

PITCH: An adventurous kitty traveling the world in her hot air balloon lands in Rome for pasta and helps a scaredy cat become a courageous kitty.

FIRST LINE: I’d like 16 orders of fusilli with extra cat nip, half anchovies, half sardines and 10 cartons of milk. Grazie, Thank you, Luigi! See you soon!

Entry #25 

PITCH: Quinn wants to sleep in his parents’ bed. His mom wants him to sleep by himself. Will anyone get a good night’s sleep tonight?

FIRST LINE: I’ll be a bigger boy tomorrow. I’ll sleep in my Big Boy Bed then.

Congratulations to all the finalists!  Tamson will guest blog and announce the winners on Thursday, March 8.

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Giveaway, Picture Books, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. Stiff competition is right! 91 entries — that is great! Good luck to all the finalists!

  2. Well done to all who entered and these lucky 25 for getting through to the next round!

  3. Lori Grusin Degman

    Awesome entries – congrats and good luck to all the finalists!!

  4. With all these great entries, Tamson has her work cut out for her! Many congratulations to the finalists!

  5. BooHoo to me lol but Yay! To the winners!!

    I’d love some tips with my pitch is anyone knows of any. The story is ready to send out and I want to have it the best I can make it.

    Denise of Ingleside

    • Denise, if you want feedback you could enter your pitch in Would You Read It Wednesday on my blog – that’s the whole point of that series. Unfortunately the next opening is in May – but it’s yours if you want it 🙂

  6. Thanks to the all the judges for their hard work and well done to everyone who entered! Julie is right, pitching is HARD!!!

  7. They all sound so good. Best of luck to everyone!!

  8. So many great pitches—and great story ideas! The character limit seems to have made each pitch shine. Choosing must have been very difficult. I’d love to see more of each story and am honored to be a finalist.

  9. Congrats to you all. These are great pitches and great story ideas. Best of luck!

  10. This is such a wonderful opportunity for all of us to hone our craft. Good luck to all the finalists!

  11. Good luck to all the finalists. Better luck next time for me and all the others who didn’t qualify this round!

  12. These are great pitches! Such imagination! Congrats to those who made this cut. Julie, you’re so right about judging being subjective, and it’s important for all of us to keep that in mind when we’re submitting our work. I’ve been on the judging side, and recommend to others to experience being a judge in some way. The lesson learned is so valuable. Another thing I’d recommend is that we all look at every single line of our work the way we looked at creating our pitches. Having to choose 140 characters so carefully made our pitches as good as we thought they could be. Examining our manuscripts in the same way could help us see where improvements can be made (eliminating cliches, being more imaginative, tightening up, improving rhythm, etc.). Thanks for this great learning experience, Julie and Tamson. Loved it!

    • Carol, these are all great suggestions for tightening up our manuscripts. We have to make sure each word counts and is in the story for a reason. Pitching in 140 characters is great practice for that.

  13. Congratz to the winners!!!

  14. Congratulations to all who pitched…they all look like winners to me.

  15. Congrats to all who made the cut…but also to those who didn’t…it takes courage to put your work out there…this was my first pitch and it was lots of fun! I’ll be rereading and studying these top 25…great samples of what catches a judge’s (or agent’s or editor’s) eye. 🙂
    Thanks to Julie and Tamson (and the others who were involved in the judging) for putting this together!

  16. I love the first lines of these books. I’m jealous my kids are grown and I don’t have grandkids. Otherwise, I’d be looking forward to reading these stories to them once they got published. Awesome work everyone. 🙂

  17. They are wonderful. I don’t know how Tamson is going to choose. Congrats everyone!

  18. These are fantastic! Congrats to the finalists and everyone who submitted…!!

  19. Thank you, Julie, and thank you to your two helper elves! It’s interesting to hear that the three of you had such differences in your initial list. Art is a very subjective subject!

  20. congratulations to the finalists!

  21. Oh…you picked some of my favorites. Congrats to all the finalists. Writing the pitch is a really tough task anyway…but with only 140 characters….really, really tough. You guys did a great job.

  22. Wow 91 entries! Of course, I had my own list of favorites after reading the entries. Many are here, but some are not. Obviously finding an editor (or agent) who shares your vision is hugely important. I wish there were a crystal ball for these kinds of things. Thanks Julie and Co. Congrats to the finalists and all who entered!

  23. Congrats to all the finalists! So many GREAT pitches!!!

  24. Congrats to the twenty five pitches that made it!

  25. Well done to everyone who particitpated and congratulations to all the finalists! 🙂

  26. Congrats to the finalists. I appreciate you sharing your work as I’m studying your pitching technique here. A wonderful Saturday lesson for me. Thanks!

  27. What a great experience! Thanks for the opportunity, and best of luck to all the finalists!

  28. Thank you for the chance to try presenting a pitch…my first ever and I enjoyed it! Congrats to the finalists and good luck everyone!

  29. I can’t wait to see who wins! Excellent choices. Good work, judge Julie!

  30. Wow, so many amazing pitches! Congrats to all that entered!

  31. WOW! What a bunch of AWESOME pitches!! Good Luck!

  32. So I just got back from an SCBWI conference and learned A LOT about picture books. IT seems like I’m always learning something new (then rewriting! 😉

    It’s always interesting to see what appeals to others in a contest–I learn something fromt that, too! (Good luck to all!)

  33. Congratulations to the selected entries. While a little disappointed that mine was not one of those, it was my first time ever to pitch so I’m not really surprised. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top.

  34. Sooooo excited to be a finalist. I actually did a dance!

    Seems like cats are pretty popular with this group.

  35. Woo Hoo! I made it through the first cut. Congrats to all the entries! When is the next round planned to be announced?

    -Alison Hertz

  36. Narrowing down a picture book idea into 140 characters is not easy, and neither is writing first lines. But contests like this help me see if my story is catchy from the beginning. Same thing when writing novels – thanks for this contest! I’m happy to be among the 25 finalists – so many awesome pitches – good luck to everyone!

  37. Very excited to be a finalist, thank you!

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