First Friday Critique: Rainy Day Diner, by Melissa Shepherd


It’s Friday, Friday, Friday!! And Melissa Shepherd has graced our blog with a picture book manuscript up for critique. She says she does have some illustrator notes, but she’s mostly interested in gut reactions to the text.

Thanks for sharing, Melissa!


Rainy Day Diner

Clapping Thunder

Tapping Base

Rolling Under

Making Face


Scribbling Rainclouds

Lightning Flash

Ripping Paper

Silver Crash


People Staring

Loud Applause

Getting Daring

Shooting Straws


Chocolate Bubbles

Apple Sauce

Dad’s in Trouble

Mama’s Cross


Fishy Fingers

Tater Tots

Chicken Wingers

Mustard Splotz 


Tummy Tickles

Vinyl Fart

Ketchup Squiggles

Work of Art


Apple Crunches

Spaghetti Slurps

Napkin Bunches

Cola Burps


Cherry Ice Cream

Lemon Cake

Chocolate Pudding

One to Take


Happy Tummy

Wipe Your Chin

Something’s Funny

Toothless Grin


Waitress Clearing

Grab the Coats

Sunshine  Nearing

Streets are Moats

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5 Responses to First Friday Critique: Rainy Day Diner, by Melissa Shepherd

  1. hmmmmm says:

    Melissa- Thanks for sharing!! I was going to ask you for a sentence on the set-up but when I went back and read the title it felt like it was all right there in those 3 words — which is great. It is a really sweet ‘day-in-the-life’ sort of story, and I love the clarity and simplicity of the language. Lots of sensory stuff to hold onto there.
    In that third section I get the sense that maybe a lot of the diners hang out during the storm — which you’d see out the window — and that the child/toddler sort of becomes their entertainment as they eat and maybe, also, wait out the storm?
    I was a little bit thrown when, right after “Loud Applause, Getting Daring” I got to “Dad’s in trouble, Mama’s cross”. I felt like things were just starting to get fun and then their trouble/crossness sort of put the damper on the story’s energy there, with the next section becoming a sort of accounting of the details of the meal — which felt like a little bit of a letdown after that higher energy just before.
    So: my thought of what to work on next would be to work on arc/pace!

  2. Melissa – what wonderfully expressive words and cadence. I agree with what hmmmmm (Anna) said, I’d work on the story arc. You might want to consider taking out or modifying the opening lines, the focus seems to be on art work and they are already being in the diner. Maybe have them running inside to avoid the storm, they are wet and disappointed, bored then the fun begins, seems like dad starts things, child escalates the fun with food, mom gets mad at both until the climax of the story. Thanks for sharing your work 🙂

  3. Wendy says:

    Good advice from Hmmm and Chrissa about the story arc. Diners are great family fun places, and your rhymes are fun. As it’s written, I was wondering whether the rainstorm matters to the story. Without the art notes, I also couldn’t picture what the “loud applause” was for as it seemed a series of miscues (ripped paper, silverware dropped) preceded this. Good luck with this!

  4. You have some really fun language and imagery. I like these short, punchy lines and think children will get a kick out of “vinyl farts,” “spaghetti slurps” and “cola burps.”
    I agree with the comments above that this would work better if it told more of a story with a beginning, middle and end and more defined story arc. Plus, I want to feel a bit more grounded in the character by knowing their problem/resolution and emotions throughout. Perhaps the energy of the approaching storm could mirror the escalating fun inside. Maybe mama’s cross at the height of the storm and then things settle inside and outside together. Have fun with your diner in the storm!

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