At the suggestion of a mutual friend, I offered to critique someone's work. Prose, intended for children. There were some good chunks in there, but the main characters just drifted along. Stuff happened to them and they never really reacted much one way or the other. No motivation to do anything, no emotion in response to anything. The peripheral characters were alternately thunderous and musing, lurching back and forth from one sentence to the next. It was all choppy and disjointed. There was stuff that I liked, but there was a lot that could be improved.
The author responded that I missed the entire point of the piece, that it was supposed to be choppy, the characters were supposed to be mellow and unconcerned. She acknowledged that it was choppy, but said that she liked it that way. She said that she was sorry I got so lost and that if I was looking for motivation, consistent plot structure, development of characters over time or any other "deep" stuff, then I should look elsewhere. These were, she said, for children after all.
I review stuff all the time in my professional life. I'm actively *trying* to understand and appreciate your piece. If I miss the point or can't understand something, that's your fault as an author. You won't have a chance to respond, defend or explain to the readership of the magazine. They will just consider it a mess and move on.
I'm concerned that people seem to think that kids as readers don't deserve the same respect from an author as adults do. You don't need to explain the motivation for a kid trying to get a cookie from the cookie jar. That's a point of common understanding. However, you DO need to give a little backstory on why a giant is unhappy at having to rescue a dragon from a tree. This is not something which is readily obvious.
I assume that I will have the same level of problems when I go to publish something. If not with the plot, then with the setting, or the dialogue, or something. Get ready for critiques, right? Fortunately, I get critiqued all the time, and have been harshed and rejected many times. I like to think that my skin is reasonably thickened by now.
Ah, well. I'll wait a day then respond.