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Manuscript Critique 1

Manuscript Evaluation 

reviewer: Carol M. Mackey, Senior Copywriter

author: Dror Shai Levi

TITLE: "The Ancient Rainforest"

date: March 10, 2000

 summary

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 Northwest.

overview

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.

CRITIQUE SUMMARY:

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 forced.

Here are a few questions that need to be addressed:

What is the character's name? What is her age? Kids best identify with characters and situations they can relate to.

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 continent/country.

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 life.

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 caring.

 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 it.

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.


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