As part of the Children’s and Young Adult (CYA) writing conference I entered the First Page critique session. This involved sending off the first page of one of my works-in-progress for potential public review by a panel of editors. I entered last year but my piece was not read out. It’s all random and anonymous. So this year as my piece, The Day the Sillies Got Away, was read out, I was thrilled…and appalled and quietly crawled under my seat. Okay, not really, I tried to act all nonchalant as the blush climbed my cheeks… The Day the Sillies Got Away is a picture book concept that I came up with comparatively recently. After dropping Baby Bear at school, I saw some Preppies frolicking in and marvelled at how small they are! Baby Bear is in Grade 5 now and is entering the Moody Zone so the cute days where kids go to school with a soft toy in toe are kind of well behind us. The littlies were a bit giggly and I thought about how teachers these days talk about ‘getting your sillies out’. And then, I thought Hmm, I wonder what happens if the sillies get away? I actually still really like this idea. However, the editors were not impressed. Let me explain a bit more. There were five industry professionals on the panel (pictured below) – writer and Ford Street publisher, Paul Collins, agent Jacinta di Mase, Five Mile Press publisher Karen Tayleur, Wombat Books publisher Rochelle Manners and agent Alex Adsett. As each piece was read out, they put up their hand at the point they would – in the ordinary course of their day if this came across their desk – stop reading. Now, I admit, I put in a joke that was a bit dodgy. It went like this… Now one Tuesday morning, Miss Moody forgot about the sillies. (The night before, she’d had a hot date with Mr Goodman from 6G but you don’t need to know that!) Four out of the five put up their hand and the reading finished. Thanks to Alex who said she would’ve kept going. So, what did I learn from this? * Next time, I’ll submit my best piece rather than a new work-in-progress. * Don’t put adult-style jokes in kid’s books (I’m sure other people have gotten away with this but I guess as a new kid on the block it’s not advisable). * Editors seem to be over crass humour (unless of course, you’re Andy Griffiths :)) * I felt perversely brave and proud having my work read out, even though the comments weren’t that great. Would I do it again? Definitely!