Picky 11 year old gives Imaginaeries 3.5 out of 5!

Drawing by Chloe Hwang

I’m Chloe Hwang. Gail is my Mom’s friend and she told me about the book and sent me the email.

I am eleven years old and soon going to 6th grade. I am really passionate about reading books, especially adventure and fantasy genres.

When you started the book you used  an onomatopoeia, which was good because I think if you have a good “hook” in the beginning of the book the reader will be more interested in the story.

Next, you introduced the reader to Bradley Beetle and Marigold who lived in Glen. I loved how in each chapter there was a story from a different person’s point of view. I’m not sure if an Imaginaerie  is a bug, small creature, animal, or a human being, but I imagined that most of them are humans.

Even though your book did not have a lot of adventure it was still interesting. I thought that was one of your strong points because most authors need a part in the book when the main character swoops in and saves the princess or when a character swims in a river of crocodiles. But you didn’t have to do that you just used your characters and build some problems, that’s what makes your book unique.

In my opinion I think it was a little difficult remembering all the characters. In the middle of reading I sometimes have to stop and think of which character is which. Gogo Gaia, Madame Shews, Mister Grumpy Pants, Monsieur, Winona Worm, Pete The Publisher, and Granny Catty all stood out because they were all so different which was really interesting.

I think Marigold, Bella Dew, Ivy Lion, and Mor-a-Bella were sort of all the same. I felt like they were hardest to remember. I kept on thinking ,”which one lived on the farm and was a bumpkin again?” Or ,”Is it Marigold who wanted their flying license or was it Ivy Lion?

So I went back in the book and found out who was who but I wish I could remember the characters instead of going back into the book all the time.

With all that said I give your book The Imaginaeries a 3 and a half star rating out of 5 stars. Don’t feel bad though because I’m a picky reader and having a 3 and a half star book is pretty good!

I really recommend kids to read this book because it has some life lessons in it.

The only tips I have for you is to maybe put some excitement in it, or maybe make the characters a little more different from each other. Oh, and you should explain what an Imaginaerie is because I’m still not sure what one looks like. I think the most important thing you should do to change your book is explain. I know I know explaining is a little hard to do in a book because you got to let the reader know what is what in a way that doesn’t bore the reader. If you did some good explaining the reader will be able to understand and process the book more easily. You should explain the Beetle Boys or what an Imaginaeries look like.

Bella Dew by Chloe

Over all, I think you are extremely talented because I know it’s not easy to write a book. Thank you for letting me critique your book I really enjoyed writing about all your strong points in your book.

I’m so lucky that I’m able to read before it comes out in paper. If we ever meet and I have a copy of The Imaginaeries will you please sign it for me?


Chloe Hwang

Review from a self-professed fairy tale expert – Liza Martz

Hello dear,

I am SO sorry it’s taken me this long to respond. I kept waiting for a time when my life was uninterrupted and today was it. And I’m so glad I waited so I could read the whole thing in one fell swoop. The proof of what a good story is, my doggies were requesting many outside and inside trips and I was getting irritated that they were interrupting my reading.

The Glen is such a wonderfully magical place. And the various characters have such distinct personalities that make each of them individual. The writing is simply the best. As  you know I am a big fan of magical places in stories and you have nailed it, my dear, and brought the Faerie Glen alive.

Your style reminds me of two of my all time favorites, E. Nesbit and Eva Ibbotson. I can read their stuff over and over and it always sweeps me away. And The Faerie Glen is in that same league.

Now, I do have to admit to being puzzled at the end when the Beatles Boys show up. I had gotten the impression they were kind of tough guy thugs and that their return would not be cause for celebration. But I couldn’t tell if they were welcome or if everyone had a feeling of, “Oh no, here they come and wreck everything.”

BTW, I am in love with the worms. They are hilarious little pranksters and totally crack me up!!!! Mr. Grumpy Pants reminds me of my maternal grandfather except he would never have come around to seeing things any other way but his own. I’m glad Mr. G. got to test out the new fangled stuff and see the benefits.

I can go on for days about how lovely this is, it is just wonderful. I’m sorry to gush but it is needed here. Thank you so much for allowing me to read it. And I sure hope it gets published by a major publisher, Peter the Publisher????, haha! and I can buy my own hard copy here in the USofA!

Very nicely done!!!  xoxoxoxoxo

Liza Martz

Liza lives in the USA – and it was great to see that she enjoyed the book – South Africanisms and all!  Thanks for such fabulous feedback my friend.

What the Grade R’s think of the first chapter.

Thanks very much to Taryn Pereria for test-driving our book with her class.

This is what she said…

Thank you so much for letting me have a sneak peak of your wonderful story. What a magical idea! 

My class is Grade R so their ages range from 5 to 7. Usually at this age, children enjoy short picture books with very little writing, so I was feeling a bit apprehensive about what their feedback would be, but I was pleasantly surprised. 

I told them that this was a special story written by one of my friends and that I wanted to them to tell me what they thought afterwards…they all felt very important! I also told them that there were no pictures yet but that they should use their imaginations to imagine the story. 

Story time lasts for about 25 minutes at this age, so I managed to get through the first chapter and then we chatted about it afterwards. They listened beautifully and were visibly enthralled by the characters. Their favourite parts were when Marigold grabs one of Bradley’s legs and yanks him back inside when he tries to escape, and also when they skip through the puddles and go home to enjoy a berry breakfast.

The story is so well written and lends itself to the reader being able to use a great variety of expression, which the children absolutely love. I honestly loved reading it to them because it was so easy to get totally involved and become each character. Well done Emma and Ginny, you’ve created something so special for our children! 

Taryn was also kind enough to give the following constructive criticism

  1. Use each chapter of the book to make a stand alone story picture book with big illustrations on each page (the series of stories could be called “Imaginaries”).
  2. Perhaps some of the more tricky vocabulary could be simplified for this age group (e.g. snit, glum, considering, pondered, alternate, fond, loathed, conned, myriad etc)
  3. A few of the more tricky expressions could also be simplified for this age group (e.g. “had a bash at cheering Bella Dew up” could simply be changed to “had tried their best to cheer Bella Dew up” and “you can’t order up life to please your own self” could be simplified to “you can’t always have everything exactly the way you like it” etc.).
  4. As an added bonus, to have a CD with the story being read by someone and with a few sounds effects and background music is always a HUGE attraction to parents and teachers who don’t always have the skill or energy to read stories with as much oomph. I know that our teachers at my school love a good audio book and so do the children.

It is lovely to have a few tricky words here and there, because the children will slowly be introduced to new vocabulary, but it can become a little distracting to have to stop the flow of the story too often to explain a word or phrase to them…the trick is to find a happy balance.

Before teaching Grade R, I spent 5 years as a Grade 3 teacher where the average age is 9. I feel that a chapter book with a few illustrations here and there would be perfect for this age group. I.e. keep the story as is with all the chapters in one book, and include a small black and white illustration on every few pages. The 9 year olds would also be more able to appreciate the humorous references like “inter web” and “sneakers” being quiet shoes etc.

As a side note, there is a gap in the market for good puppet shows for this age group (4-9). Pre Primary and Primary schools are always keen for a good quality puppet show. Our school tries to have at least 4 a year (usually on the last day of each term as a treat for the children…and teachers). But we so often struggle to find a good one and even if we do, they are most often fully booked. So… just an idea to use your wonderful story telling skills and creative doll making to fill a gap in the current market?  (This is a fabulous idea and we will certainly consider it.)

Originally my plan was to make each story a separate book with loads of pictures – but then it morphed into a proper book with chapters and we are actually aimed at slightly older than Grade R kids. Having said that, it’s great to see that they enjoyed the story and we might end up doing both.  We also definitely plan to do an audio book.

Again, thanks to Taryn for taking the time to read our book to her class.