feedback

Little Critics: Kid's early reviews on our book

Kids feedback for the book

So the results are in...

The little critics have spoken.  We have always been told to prepare ourselves, kid's don't tread lightly on your emotional sensitivities when it comes to their cold honest opinion.  Well, I'm not sure that's totally true, some do but those aren't the opinions that get your attention.

We take your comments seriously.

We had managed to get back a large portion of the forms (see previous blog post) we handed out and it was time to sift through the results.  This, together with some of the questions that children had asked on our school visit, gave us a much better overview of what appealed and what didn't when it came to our book.

Some of the comments were more about our performance than the book itself (one boy remarked on the 'fat old frog king', it took a moment to realise he was talking about my character performance i.e. about me, cue slightly over-long laughing fit from Eleanor); although we were more interested in getting feedback for the book rather than our acting skills or physical attributes at this point in time.

The overwhelming feedback was hugely positive (even now I can tell you are waiting for the few that weren't, you are aren't you?  I can tell.  Shame on you!).  

Nothing was quite as we expected

Dandy Doogood, no less.

Dandy Doogood, no less.

The favourite character from the story was Dandy Doogood.  Lots of children liked him because of his fabulous hair, so there you go.  We wondered if this wasn't also because he was the youngest character but that wasn't mentioned.  We thought perhaps a character closer to their age wins their favour more than the older characters (particularly that 'fat old frog king -just drop it, Trevor).  Doogood happened to be a character we weren't sure about previously, but he has now won our confidence.

 

 

Here are a few of the comments we got back:

What did you like about the story of Galdo's Gift?...

'I liked how it was animated and how you made the characters move.  I also like how the characters were made to look weird and funny.'  -Ben, aged 9

'I liked the names.' -Bethany, aged 10

childrens book review 01

'I like how it had a lot of humour in it.' -Jasmine, aged 10

'It's very adventurous and exciting' -Tameem, aged 10

'I was very excited about all of the weird characters' -Ana, aged 9

'it was hilaryus' (sic) -Abigail, aged 9/10 -(!?)

 

 
snail with slime
childrens book review 03

Anything you didn't like?...

'Mustafo because of the bird on his head' -Maia, aged 9  (it is not going to be a bird anymore)

red character portrait Mustafo
 

'No!', 'Nope', "no!!!!", 'nothing' -the large majority -thank you!

'I liked it all so 5 stars for you' -James, aged 10  (honoured, thanks, James)

'I didn't like anything.  I loved everything' Lily, aged 9 (-phew!)

'It was hard to keep up with the story' -Leon, aged 8 (we think this might have been partly our performance of the story but nevertheless we have since revisited large sections of the poem to better pace out the story and it's clarity and the poem is all the better for it).

'the dragon poo' -James, aged 9 (I take your point, James, but your are seriously outnumbered on this one; what can I say, I had my reservations but the crowd wins I'm afraid)

slimey snail
 

'When Strompoff brought back snails' (he doesn't bring back snails anymore but it wasn't this comment that made us change it, honest)

'It was all perfect' -Sam, aged 10 (this can't be true, but thank you, Sam)

childrens book review 02

'The colour sceams (sic)' Daniel, aged 9 (a fair comment from our art critic here, although we did get a lot of kids saying they liked the colours)

 

Learning at school

So just a selection there.  We were happy that the overwhelming comments were great but we have not shied away from tackling the criticisms as well.  There has been a lot of rewrites since our school visit based on the feedback we got from the forms and the questions.

One little boy asked about why the heroes brought back what they did.  That was a fair point; it is not enough just to put something into a story because you think it is funny or gross.  A lot of children needed a good reason behind it as well, the detail was important.  We realised that there were gaps in the story that we hadn't realised were there because we had behind-the-scenes knowledge that filled those gaps for us; we needed to pass that on.  Rewrites involved adding excuses/reasoning from the heroes as to why they brought back what they did and it has added validity to the story.

Galdovia fantasy land

We have also taken onboard comments from friends who have read the story to their children.  This can very much be a process of reading between the lines as naturally friends don't want to hurt your feelings.

In the end you can't be upset if the response is not what you hoped on release of the book if you haven't responded to criticism on the way.  It can also give you an extra boost to the creative process to hear lots of great stuff about our work too!

 

Formed Opinions: The Fine Art of Kid's Feedback Forms

Bob the Burger - Austin aged 10.  Has a sidekick called Nigel the Nugget, apparently.

Our main purpose of presenting our book to children is to get their opinions.  That might sound pretty obvious but in the heat of preparations for our school presentation it was easily something that could become an afterthought.

A selection of masks and props for our school performance

As always, we'd given ourselves an enormous amount of work to do, printing, cutting and sticking bits together to make our presentation more visually exciting than just looking at Eleanor and myself.  Now you might say, if you read your book in a certain way you will bring it alive, capture the children's imagination and you won't need all those props; we needed the props.

Consequently, we didn't have a huge amount of time to think about how we were going to get honest feedback from the children.  We did have a question and answer session on the day, but you always feel you are missing the views from the less gregarious children and we wanted views from across the spectrum of personalities.

Unformulaic

So we decided on creating a feedback form that we could handout.  Yeah boring, right?  Well no!  That's where you're wrong (if you thought that, I mean; if you didn't then I apologise, that was a rash and presumptive of me) we were going to make sure it was anything but boring.  It would have lots of colour and things to do as well as collecting their views along the way.

So one side asked a few simple straightforward questions about the book and the other side had something fun to do: Create Your Own Hero!  Woo Hoo!

Actually that 'Create Your Own Hero' side proved to be a very good call, but before I explain why, here are the two sides of that single page form...

kid's feedback form FRONT

Kid's feedback form BACK

Forming a Relationship

Feedback fun

When we got a batch of the forms back later that week, we started to realise that, far from just being a fun activity, the 'Create a Hero' side of the form actually told us something about the child who had made the comments on feedback side of the form.  It was a way of getting a clearer picture about the sort of child that had decided to comment on one aspect or another.  Something we will definitely consider when gleaning future feedback -find out a little bit about the person making the comment if you can!

Mr Toast 

Making adjustments based on feedback can be difficult if you don't understand more about the person that gave that feedback.  It could mean that you could be in danger of making a sweeping change to your story where a nuanced alteration would have been the solution.

Oh yeah, plus we got to see lots of funny hero creations, plus we now have lots of funny hero pictures to post on our site (which we will do and let you know, of course).

And we will discuss the feedback in future posts.

 

 

Character-Forming

Mrs Toast, of course

The teachers were also happy with the story creation aspect of 'Create You Own Hero' (it was part of their school book week).  We had given the children a chance to give their hero a score rating for strength, courage and wisdom.  This 'Top Trumps' style scoring gimmick actually made the children think a little more about the attributes of their protagonist before they started their story.  Yes, they could score their hero a ten out of ten for everything but does that make for a very interesting character?  Isn't what makes a character interesting their weaknesses too?  Even if they are a hero.

One other interesting point to note that surprised me: I'm glad we handed the forms out at the end.  Once those forms were in front of the children, that was it.  Heads down, filling them out, all attention to us was lost.  Not a bad way to finish though, we just need to make sure we never hand them out at the beginning!