Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 27, 2018

Page Street Kids – Charlotte Wenger – First Page Results

Charlotte Wenger is an editor at Page Street Kids. Prior to joining Page Street, she earned her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature from Simmons College in May 2016 and worked as an editorial intern with literary agent Rubin Pfeffer. (In undergrad, Charlotte majored in theatre and English as well as spent a semester abroad in South Africa and Lesotho.)

She loves picture book biographies, sports narratives, and global stories. Additionally, topics and themes surrounding the performing arts as well as social awareness and justice pique my interest. She is especially looking for debut (or newer talent) authors and author-illustrators with strong writing skills and distinct art styles.

In narrative picture books (fiction and nonfiction), she looks for well-developed characters with distinct voices; a strong, well-paced plot with an earned resolution; and a clever, unexpected, yet satisfying ending. She is always open to stories that break formula and just work – that have that special something that you can’t quite put your finger on – either in the art or the words. She likes both prose and poetry, but typically not a fan of rhyming unless it feels authentic to the tone of the story.

BELOW ARE THE TWO FIRST PAGES CHARLOTTE REVIEWED:

Black text: Submitted text

Red text: Charlotte’s comments

Blue text: Refers to Charlotte’s red comment

PB of Charlotte Bronte by Carol McAfee

My Name is Charlotte
I walk among the trees
I sing to the trees
No one will ever hear of me
No one will know my name. [I like the wonder and mystery of the opening lines about the trees, but these two “No one” lines seem very bleak.]
I live in a big , lonely house
on a windswept hill, on the moors
and I remember
the day I first flew. [What a fantastic, lyrical sentence! Consider setting “the day I first flew” on its own line for impact?] My sisters and I were chopping potatoes
when Branwell got his toy soldiers from Papa. [The connection between the family scene and her writing inception are unclear. What about that moment motivated her to write the story she did?]
That was the day I took pen and paper and scribbled a story  [To heighten this moment, consider breaking into two lines?]
the day I first flew
like a sparrow
free from its nest.
The words came and they came
like a river after a great rain [This mixes similes a bit, with the feeling of flying like a bird and the words flowing like a river. Is there a way to relate them a bit better? Perhaps instead of a river, like a bird’s song? (This would also tie in nicely to the opening that mentions singing to the trees…)]
I could not stop them if I tried.
And I did not try.
When I wrote, I didn’t have to be a girl. I could be a boy, [While this is somewhat a representation of Charlotte’s time period, I’m not sure this gendering is necessary. You might consider making it a bit more broad, like “I didn’t have to be myself.” Or “I didn’t have to be what everyone expected me to be.”] I could be the fury in the trees, the moss in the graveyard, black rooks wheeling against the bite of winter sky. I could be the heather sunning itself on the moors, I could be the heartbeat of a hummingbird, or a tiger, leaping. [The language and lyricism of these metaphors is wonderful. But I’d caution you to watch out for being too flowery. This shows the impact writing had on Charlotte, but does it move the story forward?]

Editorial note: This story is off to a great start and has potential. For someone who is familiar with Charlotte’s writing, the tone works well, but I would encourage you to keep in mind the child audience of this, who you should assume wouldn’t know who she is or what she’s written. Think about how you might establish her personality and character a bit more beyond the narrative voice. Overall, the writing has nice lyricism and movement, and makes me want to read more! That’s always a good sign for a first page.


 

Carol Foote                                              COME AS YOU ARE                                 Picture Book

“An invitation for you, Bella.” [ART: Hippo dad without clothes to daughter dressed in a fancy outfit. Younger sibling remains unclothed throughout.] [Nice hook, as it makes readers curious what the invitation is for.]

“A Party! It says Come As You Are. What does that mean?” [Bella]

“It means don’t dress up. Come however you like.”

“But I like to dress up.”

“So do that.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes. It won’t matter at all.”

The day of the party, Bella decided to wear her most beautiful gown. But when she arrived at the party… [This narrative line feels a bit odd since there’s only been dialogue up to this point. You might consider an opening narrative to help establish this as voice of the narrative.]

[ART: The door to the party is opened by a giraffe [Some of these art notes are more specific than I’d recommend. Try to leave more room for illustrator creativity. For example, the animal who greets Bella isn’t wearing any clothes.] who is not wearing clothes.]

“Uh-oh! I’ll be right back.” [Bella to Giraffe; she drags her sibling away.]

[Bella to sibling.] “Papa was wrong! Come as you are must mean as you are naturally—without clothes.”

[ART: Two approaching rhino party goers without clothes see Bella all dressed up.] “Oh dear. We should have dressed up. Let’s go slip on party clothes.”

[ART: A warthog or other animal arrives for the party dressed as a cowboy, astronaut or such. Sees the rhinos without clothes and turns back.] “Oh, no.”

[ART: Another group of animals, arriving in fancy dress, sees the cowboy and heads home, later showing up as aliens or spies or such.]

[ART: Bella and sibling arrive back at Giraffe’s door without clothes. Giraffe answers in a dressy outfit.]

[ART: Bella to Giraffe; she drags her sibling away] “Oops! I…Um. We’ll be right back.”

Editorial note: I can tell this has the makings of a humorous story. There’s a nice build of miscommunication and a hint (perhaps since this is only the first page) that the story is going to have some sort of theme about being yourself and not worrying about what others think or expect of you. I’m curious how it would be resolved. The story could benefit from some character development for Bella so that it’s more character-driven than message-driven but, overall, tackles the interesting conundrum surrounding anthropomorphized animals and their clothing—or lack thereof.

STOP BACK MONDAY TO READ KRISTEN NOBLES FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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