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Old 02-20-2013, 11:06 AM
 
10,512 posts, read 8,444,104 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogluvr2012 View Post
Craig, I have not looked at their website, but I really enjoyed reading your letter. You should send it. Thanks.
Thanks, DL - I used to review books, so used some of my experience in trying to provide fair criticism, that cited the positives as well as the negatives. It will be interesting to see if the print reviews of this book are similar to mine.
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Old 02-20-2013, 12:32 PM
 
1,014 posts, read 987,479 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
Have to disagree
That's why I said they were unintended messages. Not sure how you can disagree with how a child interpreted a story? I was like five... didn't know a whole lot about Hans back then. lol

Great points to the author of the Family Troll, however. I don't know if I would mention the part that says the art style is cheapened, but I am so biased when it comes to various styles of comic art (including manga). The point about making the troll an honorary guardian rather than an adopted brother was a fantastic suggestion! Are you thinking about sending that to him?

Last edited by thethreefoldme; 02-20-2013 at 12:46 PM..
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Old 02-20-2013, 04:59 PM
 
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No, probably not...I think this book will find a very, very limited audience and won't stick around long enough to have any significant impact, as is true of the vast majority of self-published books.

There are far better children's books out there about both trolls and adoption (just can't think of any other that combines the two).
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Old 02-20-2013, 06:00 PM
 
1,879 posts, read 1,864,042 times
Reputation: 1462
Quote:
Originally Posted by susankate View Post
I've also contacted them. I took Linmora's comment into account and commented more on the article by raising concerns I had about certain comments they had made. I did also comment that I realise that the article may be taking their ideas out of contact and that the book may be different and, if possible, could they let me know more about the synopsis with perhaps some quotes from their book. I also praised their artwork and told them I thought they were very talented.

I tried to be as respectful as possible and hope to hear back from them, so will let you all know if I do.
I sent an email and got back this reply:

Quote
Quote:
Yes the article makes it seems different than it really is.
In fact we find comfort in our rescued dogs that is the symbolic meaning of the book really. We are looking into adoption, because we want a family. Not because we think it will give us a biological baby in return.


There are some changes that will be made to the book to clear this up.


Thanks for your feedback.


Can I ask where you first discovered the article?

He still doesn't realise that:

1) Making the adoptee a Troll is still a negative connotation. Perhaps he could call it another name.

2) With the actual synopsis being this:
Quote:
Quote
Artist Tyler Kirkham, known for his work on such titles Green Lantern: New Guardians and Ultimate Fantastic Four, is stepping outside of the superhero arena with The Family Troll, a graphic novel written by his wife Jill Kirkham, and he's turning to Kickstarter for help . Loosely based on Tyler and Jill's own struggles to have a child, the fantasy follows a young couple in a similar situation that consults with a wizard in hopes of obtaining a magical solution to the problem.

The wizard agrees, but only if two agree to care for a newly rescued troll while he sets off to gather the ingredients for the potion. They raise the baby over the course of a year, growing close to the young troll, and ... well, you can probably guess the rest.

It still sends the message that the magical solution is that with the troll taking their mind off their problems, they do end up conceiving and have a "real baby".

What would have been a much more magical solution is that they ended up loving their troll so much that it didn't matter that they weren't able to have a "human child" - their troll was enough for them. Again, something like a unicorn would be a much nicer creature to have.



That's what I'm going to tell him anyway.

PS: I was looking at the troll bags and wondering whether people are planning to have their adopted child/foster child keep the troll bags. What a great message that would send - "Hey, I'm adopted and I'm the Family Troll!" lol.

Last edited by susankate; 02-20-2013 at 07:29 PM..
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Old 02-20-2013, 06:28 PM
 
1,879 posts, read 1,864,042 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
Back to "The Family Troll": I took another, closer look at the website. Here is my critical take on what I saw:

I liked the muted colors and the folkloric backgrounds in the illustrations, but the depictions of the characters - troll and human - left me cold. They are very stereotypically action-hero cartoonish, with a little Japanese manja influence, and seem to represent archetypes rather than real people. Or even real trolls (did I just write that?? Real trolls??).

The backgrounds and lettering do seem to pay distant tribute to the legendary, original home of the trolls of folklore: Norway and Sweden, despite the very derivative nature of the drawing of the characters.

So - perhaps a B- or a C+ for those illustrations. If they didn't include any characters, I'd up that to an A-.

If I were a critic writing to the illustrator, I'd write:

"You are talented and have a lot of potential - but please work on drawing people and expressions more realistically and with greater nuance, and strive for more originality and creativity in your work.

At present, your characters have a very cartoonish look to them, which cheapens the appearance of your work. However, your backgrounds are excellent and your use of soft, muted colors conveys a hushed, magical mood. Unfortunately, that mood is difficult to sustain when your drawings of your characters are done in such a harshly differing style.

You also have a great eye for color and line, and do excellent lettering. You have a great deal of talent and a lot of potential, but need to be more consistent in conveying mood and character through the style of your work."

That troll doesn't bear much physical or personal resemblance to his brother who hung out under the Three Billy Goats Gruff's bridge, or to any of the other trolls in Asbjornsen and Moe's classic Norwegian fairy tales, or even to the cute little troll dolls which gained popularity in the mid-sixties. The story - regardless of the questionable depiction of an adoptee as a troll of any origin or current meaning- seems to be very weak from the description of the plot. Of course, I have not yet read it in its entirety - but presumably it was rejected by various publishers of children's books, or its writers would not be seeking to raise funds for self-publishing. So - were I a publisher or editor addressing the handling of the topic in response to a query from the writer, this is what I'd respond:

"It's clear this is a topic close to your heart, and that you have put a lot of work into your story. I do, however, question much of your knowledge about adoption and the feelings of people who were adopted and their families.

Portraying an adoptee as a "troll" is distasteful and questionable, particularly in light of the current use of the term to describe those who anonymously engage in deliberately provocative and ugly behavior online.

Perhaps, rather than having your troll character being adopted prior to the birth of a child to the parents, you could not only give him a name (I could not find a name for him anywhere - he is just "the troll") but also assign him an important, but different role in the family - maybe a good neighbor or sort of honorary uncle or godfather/protector to the baby, rather than being the adopted sort-of brother but not quite a "real" brother that he seems to be at present.

Your present depiction of the troll inadvertently conveys the message that "he'll do, until we have a REAL child, and he's not really a child, much less OUR child, after all, but we love him, anyway, because he's such a good guy". I am sure that is not what you intended, but after discussing your book with many adoptive parents and adults who were adopted as children, most seem to come away with reactions similar to mine.

Clearly, changing the relationship of the troll from an adoptee to a protective and loving adult who is somehow connected to the family would would change the focus of your book, but it would also make it much more palatable and would help it find a much wider audience. Keeping the troll as an adoptee/makeshift child conveys a very hurtful subtextual message, which I am sure was not your intention at all.

I hope both of you will keep writing and illustrating, but also hope that you will familiarize yourselves with the complexities of adoption, in order to write a book which is truly helpful for families and individuals who are part of the adoption community. Thank you."

Thoughts??
Nicely said, Craig (especially bolded bit)

Btw comments are now available on his site (although they are all from his supporters):

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/...l-picture-book

(see up top)

Btw he does have a name - Narg.

Last edited by susankate; 02-20-2013 at 06:51 PM..
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Old 02-20-2013, 06:51 PM
 
297 posts, read 419,378 times
Reputation: 377
I had to see the Troll bags! He posted this update:
Project update. After receiving feedback we will be changing the name and a few other elements of the story. The word troll can be taken in a negative context. We don't want anyone taking this story literally. The symbolic nature of the story is our adopted pets bring us joy and help us forget our problems. In no way are we saying adopted people are trolls. We are trying to show that even if you have a child of your own, don't neglect the other blessings in your life.

So, he listened Susankate. Not really sure who would think Troll was not negative? The bags are just too much...
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:22 PM
 
1,879 posts, read 1,864,042 times
Reputation: 1462
Quote:
Originally Posted by dogluvr2012 View Post
I had to see the Troll bags! He posted this update:
Project update. After receiving feedback we will be changing the name and a few other elements of the story. The word troll can be taken in a negative context. We don't want anyone taking this story literally. The symbolic nature of the story is our adopted pets bring us joy and help us forget our problems. In no way are we saying adopted people are trolls. We are trying to show that even if you have a child of your own, don't neglect the other blessings in your life.

So, he listened Susankate. Not really sure who would think Troll was not negative? The bags are just too much...
As I said above, I also think if he changed his story so that in the end, they loved their "Troll" or "Narg" so much that he was enough for them and it didn't matter that they couldn't conceive, that would help too. He plans to do a second book and he could introduce a human child then.

At present, the "blessing" in their life is the fact that thecouple get pregnant - how much more meaningful if the "Troll/Narg" himself ended up being their blessing.
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Old 02-20-2013, 11:58 PM
 
1,879 posts, read 1,864,042 times
Reputation: 1462
Quote:
Originally Posted by susankate View Post
As I said above, I also think if he changed his story so that in the end, they loved their "Troll" or "Narg" so much that he was enough for them and it didn't matter that they couldn't conceive, that would help too. He plans to do a second book and he could introduce a human child then.

At present, the "blessing" in their life is the fact that thecouple get pregnant - how much more meaningful if the "Troll/Narg" himself ended up being their blessing.
I sent an email along the above lines and along the lines of my previous post.

He sent me back an email saying that something along the lines that he thought it was a brilliant idea and a great ending and that he loved it. So, it looks like he might possibly change the ending. Also, it looks like he will change Narg from being a troll to being something else (though presumably looking the same).
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:08 AM
 
Location: Chicago area
1,105 posts, read 2,914,966 times
Reputation: 2106
Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
Back to "The Family Troll": I took another, closer look at the website. Here is my critical take on what I saw:

I liked the muted colors and the folkloric backgrounds in the illustrations, but the depictions of the characters - troll and human - left me cold. They are very stereotypically action-hero cartoonish, with a little Japanese manja influence, and seem to represent archetypes rather than real people. Or even real trolls (did I just write that?? Real trolls??).

The backgrounds and lettering do seem to pay distant tribute to the legendary, original home of the trolls of folklore: Norway and Sweden, despite the very derivative nature of the drawing of the characters.

So - perhaps a B- or a C+ for those illustrations. If they didn't include any characters, I'd up that to an A-.

If I were a critic writing to the illustrator, I'd write:

"You are talented and have a lot of potential - but please work on drawing people and expressions more realistically and with greater nuance, and strive for more originality and creativity in your work.

At present, your characters have a very cartoonish look to them, which cheapens the appearance of your work. However, your backgrounds are excellent and your use of soft, muted colors conveys a hushed, magical mood. Unfortunately, that mood is difficult to sustain when your drawings of your characters are done in such a harshly differing style.

You also have a great eye for color and line, and do excellent lettering. You have a great deal of talent and a lot of potential, but need to be more consistent in conveying mood and character through the style of your work."

That troll doesn't bear much physical or personal resemblance to his brother who hung out under the Three Billy Goats Gruff's bridge, or to any of the other trolls in Asbjornsen and Moe's classic Norwegian fairy tales, or even to the cute little troll dolls which gained popularity in the mid-sixties. The story - regardless of the questionable depiction of an adoptee as a troll of any origin or current meaning- seems to be very weak from the description of the plot. Of course, I have not yet read it in its entirety - but presumably it was rejected by various publishers of children's books, or its writers would not be seeking to raise funds for self-publishing. So - were I a publisher or editor addressing the handling of the topic in response to a query from the writer, this is what I'd respond:

"It's clear this is a topic close to your heart, and that you have put a lot of work into your story. I do, however, question much of your knowledge about adoption and the feelings of people who were adopted and their families.

Portraying an adoptee as a "troll" is distasteful and questionable, particularly in light of the current use of the term to describe those who anonymously engage in deliberately provocative and ugly behavior online.

Perhaps, rather than having your troll character being adopted prior to the birth of a child to the parents, you could not only give him a name (I could not find a name for him anywhere - he is just "the troll") but also assign him an important, but different role in the family - maybe a good neighbor or sort of honorary uncle or godfather/protector to the baby, rather than being the adopted sort-of brother but not quite a "real" brother that he seems to be at present.

Your present depiction of the troll inadvertently conveys the message that "he'll do, until we have a REAL child, and he's not really a child, much less OUR child, after all, but we love him, anyway, because he's such a good guy". I am sure that is not what you intended, but after discussing your book with many adoptive parents and adults who were adopted as children, most seem to come away with reactions similar to mine.

Clearly, changing the relationship of the troll from an adoptee to a protective and loving adult who is somehow connected to the family would would change the focus of your book, but it would also make it much more palatable and would help it find a much wider audience. Keeping the troll as an adoptee/makeshift child conveys a very hurtful subtextual message, which I am sure was not your intention at all.

I hope both of you will keep writing and illustrating, but also hope that you will familiarize yourselves with the complexities of adoption, in order to write a book which is truly helpful for families and individuals who are part of the adoption community. Thank you."

Thoughts??
I think the letter is great. Much better than mine. I would leave out the comments about the illustration though since that's not really the issue here and is highly subjective. But please do send the comments on the story line.
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:28 AM
 
Location: Chicago area
1,105 posts, read 2,914,966 times
Reputation: 2106
Quote:
Originally Posted by dogluvr2012 View Post
I had to see the Troll bags! He posted this update:
Project update. After receiving feedback we will be changing the name and a few other elements of the story. The word troll can be taken in a negative context. We don't want anyone taking this story literally. The symbolic nature of the story is our adopted pets bring us joy and help us forget our problems. In no way are we saying adopted people are trolls. We are trying to show that even if you have a child of your own, don't neglect the other blessings in your life.

So, he listened Susankate. Not really sure who would think Troll was not negative? The bags are just too much...
I don't have that much of a problem with the "foster child" being a troll, per se. To me trolls don't have a negative connotation. I've always thought they were cute. The problem I'm having is with the troll's role and purpose in the family. I would have had the same problem if Narg wasn't a troll but was an actual child they had been asked to care for. Actually I would probably have more of a problem with that. The story tells us that Narg's purpose is to take his foster parents' minds off things which helps them conceive but they let him stay anyway even though they have the real thing. Insinuating, purposely or not, that that's the role of an adoptee or foster child could be quite damaging to a young child living in a non-biological family. The problem would be the same even if Narg was a unicorn or a monkey. I also take issue with the fact that the book is described as a book about adoption and is intended to target fostered and adopted kids. I hope the authors will understand this too and not get caught up on the fact that Narg is a troll.
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