reviewer: Carol M. Mackey, Senior
author: Dror Shai Levi
TITLE: "The Ancient Rainforest"
date: March 10, 2000
Title: "The Ancient
Forest"Theme: People joining together can
overcome indifference and work toward the accomplishment of a
common good. Goal: To alert the public to the
imminent destruction of old-growth forests of the Pacific
Basically, I think Mr. Levi is very knowledgeable on
the topic of tropical rainforests and is passionate about
preserving them and respecting nature. While I think his
information is good for the general masses, I do have concerns
with the way it's presented as a children's book.
1) First and foremost, my question to the
author is: Who are you targeting this book to? Children's books
are usually targeted to different age groups (preschool, 6-10,
11 and up, etc). Defining a target audience is key, especially
in writing for children. This piece lacks a target market,
which makes critiquing it difficult.
a) For example, "raped" and "desecrated" (5th
illustration) are very adult words for say, a six-year-old to
comprehend. Maybe a very gifted 10-year-old would get it. Maybe
not.b) Also, would children really care if the world
is suffering from depression, anger, stress and boredom (3rd
illustration)? They just want to be kids and have fun! We have
to show children how these problems affect their world and how
they can help change it, if possible.2) Also,
while I think there is a lot of valuable information in Mr.
Levi's manuscript, there is no story. There are a lot of
interesting facts and characters strewn together, which seem
Here are a few questions that need to be
What is the character's name? What is her
age? Kids best
identify with characters and situations they can relate
Where is the story taking place? Asia, South
America, Africa? The illustrations suggest a foreign
locale, but we need a place of reference. The characters are
seemingly indigenous people, but we need to know for sure,
because the culture will be different for each
Why does this girl love trees? Do they remind her of
something or someone special? For example, does her grandmother
always read to her beneath a tree? Do her friends play games
with her in a forest-like setting? The story needs EMOTION. We
need to FEEL something for this character and for her
Why would she care about
saving/preserving trees and the forest?
Unless they have an
understanding and/or appreciation for nature, most kids
don't care. She has to have a reason for
Is this a magical/mystical type of story?
If so, we need to clarify
that right up front and the illustrations need to look
different. The current artwork is very serious, not playful or
cheery or fun. I'm not sure how much children will appreciate
Fun, facts and
fantasy can be integrated successfully into an entertaining
book, but I think it has to be done right at the beginning.
Kids know that salamanders, trees, rocks and water don't speak.
But if you have an engaging character and situation that they
can relate to, they will be hooked and will listen to any type
of object/animal. We cannot learn from nature, but we can
appreciate and respect it. This is the message that can be
emphasized if presented the right way.
If these needs are addressed, I think the book could
be very marketable. But a lot of groundwork needs to be done
before anyone strikes pen to paper.