Reviews for The River Horse
A. Gray chapter 1 . 6/17/2011
This was absolutely lovely story. I could see myself reading this to my daughter, and the images that a book would have in my mind.

I liked the way you introduced the story with the discription of where the river was. It painted a nice piture in my mind.

I loved the great ending with how the friends all crowded around to hear of his adventures and to welcome him home. I love how Nigel discovered he really was a hippo.

There were a few grammer mistakes, but they were so small that they didn't take any enjoyment away from the story.

Overall a very good story!
Dragon made me do it chapter 1 . 6/10/2011
Fantastic!

If I was a child still I would have loved this. As in adult, I also love it :-)

What I would love as a child is just that it is a rocking good story and you feel for the hippo! You have great imagery and dialogue. your writing also has a rhythm to it that is good for children. For example,in the first paragraph, the last three sentences all have the same pattern: 'deep and clear and calm and the water sparkled as it flows', 'cold and rocky and fast and the water rushes and gushes', 'shallow and muddy and warm and the water gurgles gently.' This is great!

As an adult, I see this as an allegory of identity in human society.

We humans can see a reflection of our appearance in mirrors and base some of our identity on this. But when it comes to personality, our identity really comes from our interaction with other people. How they see us, and how we think they see us. But even when it comes to looking at yourself in the mirror, you can see the same image in a number of different ways depending on how you think other people see your image. how many thin gorgeous women do you know who constantly complain about being fat and ugly? I know a few!

We define our identity by contrasting it to others. I am like a zebra, but I don't have stripes, I am like a horse but not graceful ...I am not the same as you, so I am 'the other'. There is lots of anthropological theory on this.

And then there is the issue of acceptance into a community and where do I belong. People with a mixed ethnic background or second-generation immigrants face this issue of feeling rejected from both communities. then there is the sort of teen identity crisis thing.

Then in the end he is finally accepted into his own community, once he identifies with them.

It also teaches us about how a misunderstanding can take place and have such great ramifications, so that we must be careful about making assumptions and be good at communication.

I also think that Nigel, despite being a hippo, is a very strong character. We can relate to him because of his strong desires and anxieties and great joy at the end of his journey.

And while I wouldn't expect a child to comprehend all of the above, I also wouldn't be surprised if a child who had been through finding out they were adopted, immigrating to another country, discovering that they were gay, anything like that, could relate to Nigel and feel heartened by it. it might also teach other children to be more tolerant and accepting.

Really fantastic work! You should seriously try to get this published :-)

Style/grammar/syntax/spelling etc:

'In the middle of deepest Africa ...' I would be inclined to specify the name of a country here,or a river or town. this would educate the children about geography, as well as remove any kind of imperialist tone (not that I think you have this, I just generally get frustrated when people talk about 'Africa' as if it is a single country or something when it is enormous).

'The word hippopotamus means river horse ...' is this in Latin? You may want to spell this out, though I am not sure.

'... different from them' - this should be 'different to them' to be grammatically correct.

'"Try further down the river", giggled the third.' - the comma should go before the closed quotation mark

'"Am I really a hippo," he asked ...'- should be '"Am I really a hippo?" he asked ...'

'When he arrived home the other hippos crowded around Nigel asking him where he had been and what he had seen.' - I would add a comma after the word home to break it up a bit.
ShortcakeMattie chapter 1 . 6/6/2011
"Maybe I was adopted", he thought, "I wonder where my real family live?"

Edit: "Maybe I was adopted," he thought, "I wonder where my real family lives?"

-

"Sort of," replied one, "We're zebras".

Edit: "Sort of," replied one, "We're zebras."

-

When he had been pulled out of the hedge Nigel thanked the people who had helped him.

Edit: When he had been pulled out of the hedge, Nigel thanked the people who had helped him.

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"Am I really a hippo," he asked, "I thought I was a River Horse".

Edit: "Am I really a hippo?" he asked. "I thought I was a River Horse."

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"That's what hippopotamus means" someone told him, and they brought him a mirror so that he could see what he looked like.

Edit: "That's what hippopotamus means," someone told him, and they brought him a mirror so that he could see what he looked like.

-

When he arrived home the other hippos crowded around Nigel asking him where he had been and what he had seen.

Edit: When he arrived home, the other hippos crowded around Nigel asking him where he had been and what he had seen.

-

This story was adorable. Nigel was unique. You don't hear many stories about a hippo with an identity crisis. I could see this as a kid's book. The language was simple and clear. Overall, I thought you did a great job. Cute story! :)

-Mattie
ruelariat chapter 1 . 6/5/2011
This seems like a very easy going story that is perfect for a child. The language in the story is not too complicated that a child can’t figure out what’s going on, and it flows easily and doesn’t take too much time with descriptions, which isn’t necessary because you mentioned this story is meant to be like a picture book. With what description is given, it is easy for a child to imagine vivid colors and bright scenes along with the playful animals of Africa.

I like the concept of the story. To me it seems like it’s almost about two things. At first I thought it was catering to the fantasy of every child that they came from a different family, which this story does. Nigel portrays this fantasy very well by imagining all different kinds of fantastical feats he might be able to do as a horse. The other concept of the story is almost like mistaken identities. Nigel mistakenly thinks he is a river horse, not knowing that a river horse is the same thing as a hippopotamus, and sets out on an adventure to fulfill his destiny as a horse. This concept kind of dances to the tune of the child thinking they have to be whatever someone else says they are. In the end of the story, Nigel realizes that he is not a horse and that we was happy where he was, and this tells the child to just be happy with their life right now and enjoy it and not worry about being what someone else wants them to be.

I like that the story teaches the child that hippopotamus means river horse, but it doesn’t tell where the word originates from but that may be okay considering this is a children’s story. I’m not for sure, though, this isn’t my area of expertise.

One thing that I don’t quite understand is the change of scenery from Africa to the fair. Is the fair in Africa or did he travel all the way from Africa to a fair. Maybe just a little more clarification on that if the pictures don’t explain it, and that’s the only thing I can see. This is a well written story and you seem to be aware of who your audience is, which is always something to keep in mind when writing stories for people who are not your own age.

Overall, I liked this story very well even though it’s a bit young for me. It teaches something as well as satisfies the need to for bright, colorful images; it makes you use your imagination as well. It also exposes you to a variety of animals and places. This was written very well. Keep up the good work.
guppylove chapter 1 . 5/27/2011
That's sweet.

River horse. That's exactly what they are called in Chinese.
improvisationallychallenged chapter 1 . 5/22/2011
From the RG:

Seeing as this is meant to be a childrens picture book, would 'pictures' be a more accessible alternative to 'photographs'?

This was a really sweet, engaging concept, and you pulled it off with a good sense of atmosphere and energy. Nothing felt jarring, and even though I'm waaaaay above the target audience age, I didn't really feel like I was being talked down to. The message in the story was uplifting and sweet, and my only suggestion would be to take out the early explanation of Hippopotamus meaning River Horse, as it detracted a little from Nigel's own discovery at the end.

If I had kids, this would certainly be a story I'd be happy to read them. I also think the name Nigel is absolutely fabulous for a hippo.
Whirlymerle chapter 1 . 5/22/2011
In the beginning, you begin was present tense, then you switch to past tense. That was confusing, I thought. If you’re going for a mood switch, maybe you should put a break in between.

I like the premise of the story! A hippo with an identity crisis—that’s totally unique.

I didn’t like that Nigel heard he was a river horse, decided to be a horse, heard he was hippo, went back to the river. That characterization felt a little flat. I wish you’d spent a little more time describing Nigel’s feelings.

Nevertheless, a cute story. :)

Merle