Book Jacket illustration for Pinhole and the Expedition to the Jungle

Everyone’s a Critic

I sent proofs of the book to several friends and colleagues. Here are some of their comments, both pro and con:

Steven Heller:
“First, the praise: Its beautifully done, with a lot of terrific material on each spread. I truly enjoyed reading it (thank you for taking my mind off the day).”

“Second, the question: Is this really for kids? If so, what age? It is really dense and complex and I wonder whether kids 7-12 can follow the adventure.”

“Third, the critique: I am confused by Pinhole. I don’t get the reference or why Pinhole is in the book. My feeling is since he can’t really be seen, I’m not sure whether I am to root for him or simply follow him.”

“Finally: There are many great attributes to this book. I hope this flies. But the fundamental character or lack thereof is something of a roadblock for me.”

Steve was the Art Director of the New York Times Book Review for almost 30 years, (and for 3 years before that, of the OpEd page at the Times.) Currently, he is co-chair of the MFA Designer as Author Department, and he writes the Visuals column for the New York Times Book Review. He’s written (or co-written or co-edited) over 100 books on design and popular culture.

Rick Smolan:
“It’s fun, witty, playful, and my kids and I learned a lot reading it together. It reminded me of the sense of wonder I had as a child the first time I read Edwin Abbott Abbott’s Flatland. I think Nigel Holmes may have found his other true calling!”

Rick is a former Time, Life and National Geographic photographer best known as the creator of the “Day in the Life” book series. His global photography projects combine creative storytelling with state-of-the-art technology, and have been featured on the covers of Time, Newsweek and Fortune.

Michael Gold:
“This was delightful to read. It’s wonderful, wacky, and weird. Your personal sensibility, humor, and voice come through so strongly, which made me feel as though a real person (you) were telling me a story.”

“The book speaks on two levels—to kids and to adults (maybe the adults reading the book to the kids?), especially in its jokes. And for just a minute, that gave me pause. I wondered whether the kids might be puzzled by some of the puns and more sophisticated silly stuff. But [my wife] Susan pointed out that such giants as Bugs, Daffy, Bullwinkle, and Rocky have successfully pulled off that sort of thing for decades. And of course that’s true—many memorable stories for kids aim for both audiences quite effectively. As does yours, so never mind my brief pause.”

Michael founded Hippocrates magazine (now called Health), which won four National Magazine Awards while he served as managing editor and executive editor. Michael is a “doctor” for magazines, books and websites. His consulting firm, West Gold Editorial, develops launch and repositioning plans, and critiques existing publications and sites. He’s also a terrific tenor sax player.

Holly Brady:
“…about your book… it’s wonderful! Quirky, innovative and funny—just like you. I love it. Great story arc. Loved the footnotes, fabulous illustrations throughout. And I learned a lot of quirky stuff. It is for all ages, not just kids. And it would make a wonderful film.”

Holly was the director of the Stanford Professional Publishing Course from 1994 to 2009. Before that she spent many years in senior editorial role at various magazines in the San Francisco area, and won numerous editing and writing awards. Holly helped me enormously with my grammar and spelling mistakes in Pinhole. She now runs a consulting firm specializing in editorial and new media.

Thomas Borchert, (with Rhonda Williams and their boys Jasper and Kai):
“We really enjoyed reading about Pinhole’s adventures. We mainly got the jokes, and we certainly laughed some. The boys generally enjoyed the footnote jokes, though many of the more punny comments simply went over their heads, especially when it entailed spellings. They also really enjoyed the index at the end with the numbers of times that various people showed up in the story. Kai in particular would have spent a long time counting those up, had we not put it down (because it was time for the light to go out).”

“The whole section on which plants in the jungle are safe and which aren’t was new to me.”

Tom is an Assistant Professor in the Department of religion at the University of Vermont. He specializes in the religions of Asia, with a focus on religion and politics. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (2006) in the History of Religions. Among several languages, he can speak Modern Chinese, which was great when we went to dinner in New York’s Chinatown.

Juliane Kelsey Alfen
“Pinhole is an adventure where you don’t have to leave home.
Pinhole is a blank canvas just waiting for the imagination to fill it.
The artistic sense wraps the book up into the heart.
The book inspires future writers.
The book makes the stomach hungry for words.
A journey for all from beginning to end.”

Juliane was the first person to read the book in proof form. She was 10 at the time, but would like you to know that she’s 11 now (in 2010.) She gave me wonderful comments about Pinhole, and was very enthusiastic about the project. Juliane also clarified something that I had been wondering about: was this book really for children? What she said about it convinced me that it was. She got the jokes, the wordplay, the silly bits…everything. She’s smart! (And she writes wonderful stories and poems of her own.)

  • Pinhole and the Expedition to the Jungle
    ISBN 9781934978306
    2010 © Nigel Holmes