Wednesday, November 6, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #3

Dear Mr. Cusick, 

Did you know that the planet Pluto's name was first suggested by an eleven-year-old girl? Every time I tell that story to a child they puff up with kid pride, and immediately want to know more about the solar system's longer planet, but plutoid. The decision to demote Pluto from planet to plutoid by the International Astronomical Union got me to thinking about how Pluto would feel about the news, and The Littlest Planet was born.

The Littlest Planet is a complete picture book manuscript at 740 words. It starts with Pluto listening in on the radio waves earthlings produce, and finding out about his new status as a plutoid. Confused about what a plutoid is, and upset about no longer being considered a planet, he turns first to his moons, and then to the other planets for an explanation. Ultimately, he asks the earthlings, and finds out that he still has friends and supporters inside the asteroid belt.

In addition to early astronomy education by picture book, The Littlest Planet tackles universal childhood questions about identity and belonging. It is also a timely concept, because in 2015, the New Horizons satellite will do a flyby of Pluto, the first such mission of its kind. I would like The Littlest Planet to be positioned to ride the wave of media interest generated by NASA's mission, and I know that having a skilled agent, such as yourself, is the key to making that happen.

I will be submitting this manuscript to other agents, but I think this book is particularly well-suited to your list because of your stated interest in books that take place in space. I am a particular fan of all things related to space, and I love the idea of having an agent who appreciates the unmined potential of the subject.

As for my background, I am a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and a former senior government official. I know that breaking into the picture book market is challenging, but I promise that you will not find an author more dedicated or appreciative of your time.

I look forward to working with you, and thank you in advance for your time.



Once upon a time, in the outer solar system, lived a little planet named Pluto. Pluto loved being part of the solar system, and he danced around the sun in his own unique orbit, with five little moons in tow.

It never bothered Pluto that he was so far away from the sun and the other planets, because he knew that he belonged. He was the proud ninth planet, the first line of defense for the solar system, or the final stop before the cosmos, depending upon your perspective.

Pluto couldn't see Earth, he was too far away, but he loved to listen to the radio waves that darted through space, allowing him to keep up to date with what the earthlings were up to.

One day, Pluto was listening to the radio waves and he heard a most upsetting report. The earthlings' had decided that he wasn't a planet. They called him a plutoid.

"Why are they saying that I'm not a planet?" He asked his little moons. "And what is a plutoid?"

"We don't know," they said. "Maybe you should ask the ice giants."

"I doubt Neptune would know, he's pretty dense, but I'll ask Uranus," he said, and he turned to find him in the night sky.

Uranus was no help, because all he wanted to do was joke. "Maybe Neptune made them do it--after all, you did cross him!" he said, laughing at his own joke. Pluto, however, wasn't laughing. 


Creel Family said...

This is such a fun idea! I know my boys would love to read this and would be very entertained by it. Your query set up the idea very well. Good job and good luck!

Anonymous said...

So funny, I was telling my 8 year old daughter the other day that someone should write a book about poor Pluto and how it feels about being demoted from being a planet. You beat me to it. Perhaps I'm not the only other person thinking about writing a book like this, you'd better get it publish quick. Awesome stuff here!!!

Suze said...

I love this:

'He was ... the first line of defense for the solar system, or the final stop before the cosmos, depending upon your perspective.'

Well, K.P., I was reading all of the queries on my dashboard and yours drew me off the dashboard and onto the blog page with Pluto listening in on radio waves from earth. I love this idea, I have always felt that Pluto's demotion was a crock! :D

I think the idea of riding the media wave in 2015 is perfect. Really want to encourage you with this project, it's got winner stamped on it, in my opinion. And, hey, all of us have thought about the implications of Pluto's demotion, but you've actually done something with it. Plug on and keep at it until it gets in the right hands!

Suze said...

Oop. Also wanted to add that I love the thought of giving personalities to each of the planets in the Solar System. Honestly, I'd think of picking this up for one of my nieces or nephews.

Author Amok said...

How much fun is this?! I can imagine Pluto listening to the radio, shocked at the news. Could the newscaster's voice be included as dialogue?

I thought you might be able to tighten up your query, particularly paragraph 1 and paragraph 4 (could be cut). Your note about the New Horizons satellite shows that you've done your research and are thinking about marketability.

Ravina Patt said...

This is such a great concept. I’d read this to my kids. I love any picture book that opens with “Once upon a time.” It transports me back to my childhood. You did an amazing job incorporating this into a concept of outer space.

John C. said...

This is a fun idea (I could imagine Dan Yaccarino illustrating). To me, though, the writing does feel a bit old-fashioned. The prose here feels better suited to a story book, rather than a picture book, where I'm looking for super-snappy tales with low word count. This is a subjective thing of course.


Cindy Williams Schrauben said...

Great mix of fun, humor and information. Good luck.

Unknown said...

I want to thank Mr. Cusick, obviously, but also all the other people who commented! Your comments and suggestions were so wonderful. I can't wait to make my revisions and get this ms subbing! You guys are the best, and thanks Krista (as always) for making these opportunities possible!

Veronica Bartles said...

This is a cute idea. Pluto was always my favorite planet, and I'm definitely still one of his supporters. :)

I agree with Author Amok. Your query could be streamlined substantially to make it pop. You don't need quite so much background in the "why I wrote this story" department. (You probably don't need any of that at all, actually.)

Also, I love her suggestion that you include the radio announcer's voice. Instead of just telling us what Pluto heard, you can show us the actual snippet of broadcast and Pluto's immediate reaction to it. Small changes like that might make the story snappier all around.

Also, just my personal opinion, but I don't like Pluto calling Neptune "dense." It's clever (I know you were going for a pun about the structural makeup of the planet), but it's also kind of mean, and it makes Pluto sound a bit like a playground bully. Some parents might find this offensive - especially in a story about someone struggling to feel like they belong.

Unknown said...

Thanks Veronica! I'll definitely drop dense - I don't want to detract at all from him being a sympathetic character!

Unknown said...

Thanks Veronica! I'll definitely drop dense - I don't want to detract at all from him being a sympathetic character!

Unknown said...

I love this concept. I could see my son requesting to read this over and over again before bed. I don't know that much about the solar system, aside from the typical information, and I believe I would learn alongside my children. Great job, and now for my pun...polish this gem! I know it was terribly corny.