I'm back with a new critique for a middle grade holiday story. Remember that a new critique will be posted by one of us each day this week.
Also see all the other critiques from last week here:
Laura's critique from 11/22.
Liana's critique from 11/23.
Emily's critique from 11/24.
Sarah's critique from 11/25.
Our Twitter chat will be December 2nd at 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm EST on #FFChat.
Dear Agent, Let me say up front that I've read a number of picture book queries for contests but haven't critiqued many. I'll do my best.
A boy who (Maybe a little more about why. Does he have a mixed family for instance? A boy whose mixed family...) celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas invites Santa to his Hanukkah celebration. Unable to
join him visit during the busy season, Santa sends his hungriest helper in his place. When the much-needed Menorah oil runs low(Maybe be more specific on this for those who know less about Hanukkah. Is it for the Menorah?) , the elf finds a way to fill his belly and the little boy’s heart. (I love how you used the word fill! Clever! But I'd maybe add the lamp to the sentence. ...fill his belly, the lamp, and the little boy's heart. For those unfamiliar with picture book queries, a single paragraph and very brief story description like this is totally normal and expected.)
HANUKKAH ELF, a 580 word fiction, holiday picture book targeting 3-7 year olds was the winner of author, Susanna Leonard Hill’s 5th Annual Holiday Contest and as such, was critiqued by Claire Dorsett, Editorial Assistant at Roaring Brook Press(Impressive!). Fans of lighted-hearted stories like
In the spirit of DADDY CHRISTMAS AND HANUKKAH MAMA (Knopf 2012) and THE LATKE WHO COULDN’T STOP SCREAMING (McSweeney’s 2007) (I'd put the comp titles in italics and save the all caps for your own title.), HANUKKAH ELF is a fun, lighthearted story about will enjoy the friendship, tradition and common bonds.
I am an early childhood and former elementary school teacher, a mom of two boys, SCBWI member and a PiBoMo participant who has a variety of picture books in my resume. (Maybe move this up here and start with yourself so you can finish with your credits.)
In an effort to build an audience with those who purchase picture books, I started My blog Red said what? in 2013. is A Huffington Post Blog contributor and winner of BlogHer Voice of the Year. My writing has been awarded by The 83rd and 84th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition and has also appeared on TODAY, The New York Times (Letter to the Editor), Brain Child, Mamalode, Scary Mommy, InterFaithFamily, Kveller, and The Mighty as well as other online publications. (Writing credits are very important for picture book authors and it looks like you have a few here! Detailing them in the query is often longer than the story paragraph for PB writers. I would try and cut a few of the excess words, however.)
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. I look forward to the possibility of discussing my work directly. (I've seen it said that ending on similar sentiments seems a little needy, like someone who is overanxious, so a heads-up on that. You may want to cut the final sentence.)
I feel like this PB query is already solid. I'm sure the diversity and writing credits will catch an agent's eye. The only thing I could add is to maybe work in a word or two about the character's personality. You do a great job highlighting the elf is hungry. What stands out about the boy and defines his personality? I hope this helps.