by Michelle Hennessy
illustrations by Luke Harland
From Press Release: Max always dreamed of surfing. Every day he’d go down to the beach and watch all of the other surfers riding the waves and having tons of fun. The sun was going down and Max realised (sic) that he had floated so far out to sea he would never make it back before it was dark. Max started to cry, he was very scared being out there all alone. Max could hear strange noises out there in the ocean and wished so very hard for his mummy. Then all of a sudden Max heard splashes around his board, and he wondered what it was (sic)
What’s going to happen to me?
Then Max heard a strange little voice.
“Hey,” the voice said, “how did you get out here?”
First Sentence: Max always dreamed of surfing.
Max, a young boy, age not specified, watched the surfers each day at the beach. When his mother gives him a surfboard, Max excitedly took it and ran into the ocean. After trying to stand up and falling, Max decided to watch the other surfers from his surfboard in the ocean. Max floated and watched. When it became time to paddle in, Max realized he had floated out so far that he could never make it back to shore before it got dark. Max began to cry, wishing his mother would rescue him. He was scared to be in the ocean when it was getting so dark, but did not start paddling back to shore. Max heard noises and thought it was a shark, which only increased his fear. Then, he heard a voice.
“Hey,” the voice said, “how did you get out here?”
The voice was that of a dolphin. This considerably lowered Max’s fears. The dolphin asked Max to be his friend and Max agreed. Max gave him the moniker “Little Dude.” Little Dude pulled Max back to shore, where his parents and little sister were waiting.
There is a bit more to the story, but as written, it does not make sense. It is easy to figure out, but the reader should be able to understand the writing, not need to figure out what the author meant to say. Here is the problem, written verbatim, including punctuation.
Little Dude jumped and splashed for joy, he was so happy to finally have a friend to talk to, a real boy and said don’t you wish on a star and be a dolphin like me and then we can be best of friends forever?”
The dolphin had been a little boy floating for days in the sea after a boating accident. He was scared, hungry, and thirsty. At the sight of a falling star, he wished to become a dolphin if he were to stay in the sea. The sentence (above), says Little Dude does not want Max to do the same, but for the story to flow to the end, Little Dude should be asking Max to do what he did. Readers are smart. They’ll noticed this indiscretion.
There is no excuse for sloppy writing. There are problems with punctuation, dialogue, and grammar. There are frequently no quotation marks around dialogue and commas are missing in many places, as are a few periods. Other than the often-missing quotation marks, most of the dialogue is poorly structured. In at least one sentence beside a missing comma and not capitalizing the first word of dialogue, both Max and Little Dude speak.
“Well no, I don’t” said the dolphin and Max replied, “then I will call you Little Dude.”
A new speaker requires a new paragraph. Dialogue structuring is very bad. Where was the editor? Max’s age is not given. In children’s books, the age often matters and needs stated soon into the story. Why does mom hand Max a new surfboard without any advice or instruction? Readers have no idea whether or not Max knows how to surf, surfed before, or taken lessons. That is a lot of “don’t know.”
The illustrations are fantastic! The characters are cute and the environment is bright and looks fantastic. The parents have four fingers, but Max and his sister have three fingers. A bit odd. Otherwise the illustrations are fantastic. The iPad version was the best. It had better saturation and more definition than other formats. This may simply be due to the retina display. The other versions—computer and Kindle Fire—were good.
Speaking of the iPad, Little Dude is available in a Kindle version (.mobi), an epub format, and in paperback. The text was difficult to read on the Kindle Fire, even with the size set at “ultra large.” The same was true when reading on the computer. Overall, the iPad was the easiest to read and showed off the illustrations at their finest. The paperback version was not available.
I did like Little Dude’s story. Dolphins are the best. I liked Max having both an outward problem and an inward conflict to deal with. That is wonderful story telling. The author understands story structure. She knows how to raise the stakes. Little Dude’s only problem is not being ready for publication. Authors need to be able to tell a good story. Little Dude is a good story. Authors need to be good writers, paying attention to every part of the story and then getting a good editor. Little Dude needs edited, or re-edited, and then rewritten. If done correctly, this story will be wonderful.
Having said all this, I think boys and girls will like Ms. Hennessy’s debut children’s book. The word count makes The Adventures of Max, Book 1: Little Dude a good book for grades 2 to 4.
by Michelle Hennessy . website illustrations by Luke Harland . website loop vimeo Michelle Hennessy, publisher Released on December 2, 2012 ISBN: 978-0-9873549-2-1 . TRAILER 32 pages (35 paperback) Grades: Pre-K
Copyright © 2012 by Michelle Hennessey, used with permission. Text: copyright © 2012 by Michelle Hennessey Illustrations: copyright © 2012 by Luke Harland
Available in paperback and digital for most eReaders.