• Melanie Notaras

Feedback from "The Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2017"


About this time last year I entered my novel The Art Show That Came To Life At Bundock Primary School in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards, based in the UK. If you don't know it already, Bundock Primary School and the teachers within it are completely fictional - it's the version of The Art Show That Came To Life At [Your School Name Here] that's available for individual sale on Amazon and in Australia (and writing competitions).

Now while "Bundock Primary School" is a fun read, it's nowhere near as wonderful an experience as "Your School Name Here" where the story is customised with details of the reader's actual school and teachers!

So this week, nearly a year after entering, I received the detailed feedback from The Wishing Shelf Awards - and boy do I want to celebrate! I've known for several months that I hadn't won, and I left it at that - but I didn't know that The Art Show That Came To Life At Bundock Primary School had achieved a rating of 4 out of 5 stars (and had been only 1 point away from being a finalist)!

More importantly, I'd received this fabulous feedback from the anonymous school children and teacher who had reviewed the book. They said:

Of the 16 readers:

14 would read another book by this author

15 felt it was easy to follow

14 would recommend this story to another reader to try

15 felt the pacing was good or excellent

14 thought the author understood the readership and what they wanted.

Reader's Comments

'I thought this was fun. I liked having to pick what happens next. It made me feel I was in the story.' Boy, aged 12

'The drawings were really good. I thought they added a lot to the story.' Girl, aged 11

'What a lovely art-themed story. You don't see many of these 'pick your adventure' books any more. I remember they were very popular in the 1980s. I think computer gaming killed them. So it's nice to see them coming back. The children in my class enjoyed the adventure and the fact they could all have a different adventure. The writing style was simple with plenty of pace. Very good.' Female teacher, aged 37

'This was a wonderful book. I liked picking what I wanted to do next.' Boy, aged 11

WOW! If they're this happy with a 'regular' book about a fictional school, how much more they would have enjoyed reading the same story set in their own school with their own teachers?

I'll be honest, I received two bad scores - a 4 and a 12. I'm fine with that because those two categories don't really apply to customised gamebooks. "4 out of 16 readers felt that the author's strongest skill was 'developing the characters' " - and it's true, I didn't. The characters don't develop much as they're short-lived and action-driven, and the teacher characters don't develop at all! In fact, the teacher characters MUST be devoid of character development. Being a customisable novel, the teacher characters are real people completely unknown to me - and it would be totally inappropriate to create or imply a change in a real person's character, so I don't! The other category, "12 out of 16 readers felt that the author's strongest skill was 'plotting a story' ", isn't too bad, recognising that plotting a gamebook has to be somewhat erratic, or it wouldn't have so many choices and twists!

So I think I would have gained a higher score and made it to the finals if the story wasn't judged against categories not applicable to a gamebook or purpose-built customisable novel!

The Wishing Shelf Book Awards summed up their feedback with this:

'An engaging, super-fun read for 7 - 12 year olds. A Red Ribbon winner and highly recommended.'

And for me, that's a winning result!

My School Adventure customises The Art Show That Came To Life At [Your School Name Here] for schools and will be releasing a second novel The Science Fair That Went Berserk At [Your School Name Here] later in 2018. For more information on how we can assist your school please visit www.myschooladventure.com.

Interested in more? You can connect with My School Adventure on Facebook and Pinterest, or with author Melanie Notaras on LinkedIn or Twitter. Or join our new Facebook community Get Your Child To Read More.

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