First Impact: FATHER'S DAY by Hilary Swann

— October 24, 2012 (4 comments)
It's time for another First Impact Critique, where I take a look at your queries, first pages, back cover copy, etc. You want to make an impact right from the start, and we're here to help you do that.

If you'd like to submit your first impact material, send it to Details here.

Remember, anyone who leaves a critique in the comments is eligible to win a 15-page critique from INCARNATE author, Jodi Meadows. Your critique doesn't have to be long, just useful.

We have a short one this week: a picture book query from Hilary Swann. My inline comments are to the side, with overall thoughts at the end. Everything here is just my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

I think even with such small word
counts, you're still supposed to
round to the nearest hundred.
Mia wants to celebrate Father's Day, but with two moms and no dad she doesn't quite know how. When her mom suggests making the day special, Mia has brunch, goes ice skating, and meets other families: some with dads and some without. Father's Day is story about embracing your family no matter what shape or size. It is 567 600 words.
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Adam's Thoughts
I have to start by saying I haven't seen a lot of picture book queries. I believe you usually submit the entire manuscript along with the query, and so the query is more like a cover letter. Mary Kole over at seems to agree with me.

But that doesn't mean the query isn't important. This looks really short, but I have to admit, I like this concept and would read this.

The only thing I think you could add is a little more meat about the middle. Does she have brunch and go ice skating by herself? Does she do anything with the other families? Don't go crazy, because I think this already does its job: entice the agent or editor to read on.

What do the rest of you guys think? Would you read this?

Enjoyed this post? Stay caught up on future posts by subscribing here.


  1. Yeah i agree with Adam. I would definitely pick this up and take a look at it. I don't have much experience with PB queries, but what you have is succinct and clear. I think if you wanted to, you could build it up a bit more, but like Adam said, not too much, because you don't want it stuffed with filler and fluff.

    Good luck!!

  2. I like the premise and I'd check out the book. Adding some specifics to spice up the fun and/or show the unique bits of the story might make the query stand out a little more though. i.e Does she enlist the help of her frog, her imaginary dino, or anything? For me it would also help if Mia were a little more proactive. i.e ....Mia "has" brunch etc. makes her sound like she's going along for the ride, but if she "enlists the help of (insert sidekick)" or "journeys out with so and so", I get a sense of her personality and feel like she's driving the action.

    Good luck!

  3. I don't know enough about PBs to feel qualified to speak on this, but my friend Ishta Mercurio has a blog where she (at least used to) critique a lot of PB queries.

  4. My immediate thought with the first sentence was - why does she have two mom's? Are they are in a gay relationship? Is one a mother and one a step mother and her father is dead?

    If the story is about a child with gay parents then I'd probably try and make that a little clearer in the query.

    I'd also try and build in something unique about your story, to set it apart from every other book out there about children embracing their family life.