What A Review! Yippee!!


22nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards
“Judge, 22nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.”

Entry Title: Rocksann Finds God
Author: Roda Hilenski Grubb
Judge Number: 39
Entry Category: Inspirational

Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding.” This scale is strictly to provide a point of reference, it is not a cumulative score and does not reflect ranking.
Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5
Production Quality and Cover Design: 4
Plot and Story Appeal: 5
Character Appeal and Development: 5
Voice and Writing Style: 5

Judge’s Commentary*: The cover illustration is drawn well, conveying a sense of comfort as she’s lifted up to what may be higher understanding. We get the “on wings of eagles” sense along with the expanse of the clouds. It does look a bit bright to have stars out, so perhaps redesign to have just clouds, or dial down the blue tint to give a later sense of day to make those stars more realistic.

Having the Kickstarter information in the front gives the book a sense of modernity, that it has a community of supporters and an audience that gives the reader a sense of connection to it. Good job placing this here and not in back.

Beautiful opening page with the forest illustration. Artist has enriched the drawings with a lot of detail, and the colors pop, which is pleasing to young readers. Design is smartly-done with the many softly-shaded pages, but there are a few places where there seem to be a bit many shaded pages. The illustrations are so good, perhaps think about adding a few line drawings on those shaded pages to keep a consistent layout and appearance to enhance the story.

The narrator is a child, but there are a few times when it seems she has an adult voice. Be sure voice is consistent throughout. It’s just a time or two, but they stand out in contrast to the very well-done youthful voice of Rocksann. [NOTE FROM AUTHOR: That was intentional.]

We see Rocksann as a curious and observant child, traveling her world and creating a fresh perspective on what she sees. When she calls out for God and doesn’t find an answer in the visual and auditory ways she expects, her mother provides the perfect insights about God being everywhere at once, which answers one of the biggest faith questions children (and adults) have. Excellently done, and a great gift of this book.

The anthropomorphic characters in the book further the lessons and the character’s evolution, and are well-drawn, with distinct personalities. When Rocksann gets into the big questions of why bad things happen, author does a wonderful job after some exploration of letting her character converse directly with God, in a level that children can understand and appreciate, and the answers are satisfying. Well done.

The story seems simple, but it has that great depth that makes for an inspirational children’s book. Very nuanced, with excellent settings and movement throughout. Nice illustrations throughout, particularly the feather, which is the standout here.