The slush pile has been the bane of many a junior editor's existence. Typically, that is the person designated to go through the dozens of unsolicited manuscripts many publishers receive weekly. Though once in a great while a now-prominent author finds his or her way onto a publisher's list via this route (among them: E.L. Konigsburg, Cynthia Voigt, James Marshall, Chris Van Allsburg and David Macaulay), and many editors do swear by (not at) the slush pile, by and large reading it can be a Herculean task.

From didactic texts that aim to indoctrinate, not entertain, to stilted rhyming verse and animals with alliterative names, to impassioned letters from authors insisting that their “third-grade class really loved this,” children's book editors have pretty much seen it all. We asked them to provide us with their most memorable slush stories, some of which appear below.

Unforgettable Titles

My Master Jesus. A story about Jesus's fictional dog.

Chaim the Hanukkah Reindeer. The author submitted a sketch along with her story proposal; in the sketch, Chaim's antlers form the shape of a menorah.

Sammy the Snot Who Lives in Your Nose. According to the editor who received the manuscript, 'This came early in my career, and was nine pages long. I returned it, saying 'It SNOT for us,' and never again read slush while eating lunch.'

Try Not to Stare at the Giants, Honey. A work of nonfiction about gigantism.

The Little Train That Could but Chose Not To. A tale of empowerment for the New Age.

Who's That Peeking in My Window? A book on voyeurism and Peeping Toms.

Gloria, the Sperm Bank Kid. A novel in which Gloria suddenly notices that her new boyfriend looks a lot like her.

Mommy Swings. Though this title could lend itself to a variety of interpretations, the manuscript was a primer on manic depression.

My Peg Leg Grandpa. A story about a grandfather who does tricks with his peg leg, and leaves the leg to his granddaughter when he dies.

Hey Kids, Say No to Mr. Drugs. A picture book that featured a character named Endy the Endorphin.

I Can't Wait Until I'm Old Enough to Hunt With My Dad. No, this proposal wasn't submitted by the NRA.

A Classic Revisited

'A long, very long, epic poem written in the style of Beowulf. It mirrored Beowulf in every way-length, diction, syntax, meter, vocabulary, difficulty.... It was about a bug.'

Best Verse

'Then God decided the time was at


For Moses to be briefed and to get with

the band.

The stage was set on God's mountain

called Sinai.

Where a bush burned brightly but to

Moses signaled Hi!'

'After breakfast Mamma Claus

strengthens her body by running once

around the North Pole.

Santa Claus thinks that she should take

a leisurely stroll.

He calms his wife with a big red pill.

It makes Mamma Claus quiet and still.'

Best Plot Excerpt

'In the end, a little swarm of salt-starved butterflies teaches him

a lesson Saddam Hussein should have learned.'

Best Plot Summaries

'A travel series told from the point of view of a tire.'

'In this story, a potato somewhere down South experienced religious conversion and was somewhat alarmed that his new status didn't save him from the slicer and hot oil bath. What sinful thing had he done to deserve such punishment? After much soul-searching, he realizes that it's better to be a bag of potato chips than a whole potato, because there are more bits of him to sacrifice for his faith. The last page of the sketch dummy showed an illustration of the bag of chips being opened at a Sunday school picnic.'