It’s nice to do well with awards, and have your friends, family, and complete strangers tell you they like your book, but when you are writing for children, you only half listen to these accolades. What you really want to know is: Did kids like it? After all, they are your intended audience.
Since my book, Ranger Nader & The Sunstruck Phantom is really geared for upper middle grade kids (8-12), that’s the group I’m the most interested in impressing. I was super nervous to get feedback from my targeted age group, with far more butterflies in the tummy than when I was waiting for contest results. In the last couple of weeks my nerves have been soothed (see me wiping sweat off my forehead?) by the results from two very important sets of readers.
The first if the fabulous @EmmieEnchanted. This is how she describes herself on her Twitter page: I’m an 11-year old book reviewer. I want to help kids find books to read that they will love! Emmie helps kids find books to love by reading, reviewing and podcasting and tweeting about them. Her twitter page was set up in August of 2018, so she started this at about nine.
Nine! I’m in awe.
She posts her reviews at https://www.fantasticbooksandwheretofindthem.org. This is a gorgeous, well laid-out website and if she contributed to its design, we need to clone her immediately.
Drum roll please. This was (in part) Emmie’s reaction to Ranger Nader:
First, she gave it 5 wands, which is her equivalent of 5 stars. She rates the books she reads between 1 and 5 stars, so that was her top award! Wheee! Then—and I love this part—she said,
This book somewhat reminded me of the Percy Jackson series. This is because Ranger and the villain can both control parts of the weather. The villain can control the sun and Ranger can control storms. So if you’re a fan of Percy Jackson, I think you might like this book.
Since I’m a huge, I mean really, really huge fan of Rick Riordan and the Percy Jackson series, I love this comparison. To read Emmie’s entire review of Ranger Nader, go here: https://www.fantasticbooksandwheretofindthem.org/blog/2020/5/22/ranger-nader-amp-the-sunstruck-phantom
My second set of middle school reviewers is actually tied to an awards contest I entered, The Wishing Shelf Book Awards, https://www.thewsa.co.uk/. The Wishing Shelf Book Awards is organized by a British author named Edward Trayer who writes under the pen names Billy Bob Buttons and Hickory Crowl. He has authored ëighteen children, YA, and adult books, including the 2014 UK People´s Book Prize Winner and UK bestseller, I Think I Murdered Miss.
What I love about this award is that it’s judged by children! In the initial round, kids from primary and secondary schools in the UK read the books and with the help of their teachers, assess them to determine which will be finalists, deciding which they enjoyed the most and why. Ranger Nader & The Sunstruck Phantom was chosen by this group to become a Finalist! Woot! The Book was then evaluated by a group of 15 super readers according to specific criteria.
Here’s some of the specific feedback the book received:
5*! Like Emmie, they gave the book 5 stars out of a rating system between 1-5; They scored it a 9 out of 10 for the Cover, with 13 judging the cover good or excellent; 13 felt it was easy to follow; 14 would recommend this story to another reader to try; 9 felt the author’s strongest skill was ‘plotting a story’; 6 felt the author’s strongest skill was ‘developing the characters’; 15 felt the pacing was good or excellent; and 14 thought the author understood the readership and what they wanted.
I was floored and honored by this feedback. But, wait, it get’s better! Here’s what specific readers had to say:
- I loved this adventure story. It was exciting and fun to read. I will try to find other books by this author. Boy, aged 11
- The best character was Ranger. I loved his axe. He was brave and clever. I understood all of this book and I liked that so much happened. There were also a lot of twists I didn’t see coming. Good book. Girl, aged 12
- I think the author did a good job at describing the setting. Also, the characters were interesting and fun to follow on the adventure. Amazing picture on the cover too!’ Boy, aged 12
Finally, here is what one of the teachers had to say: An excellent book for a class reader for 11 yr olds. The characters are relatable, the writing style is accessible, and the adventure is well-plotted. The children in my class enjoyed it very much. Male teacher, aged 60
THANK YOU! @Emmieenchanted and all the readers @wishingshelf for your time in reading and reviewing my book. This is the kind of feedback that inspires writers to write more, and it’s definitely inspired me! I’m nearly done with the first draft of Ranger Nader, part two. Check back with me in the next month for a title reveal!
Yours in writing and reading, T.K. Read, writing as Kam Karem.
Want to check out what other people have to say about Ranger Nader & The Sunstruck Phantom? Go here: https://amzn.to/2yMX15A