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Healing Hearts with the Hero’s Journey: Heartsinger

By Judi Moreillon, Texas Woman’s University, Texas Ambassador for USBBY

Book jacket for Heartsinger by Karlijn StofflesKarlijn Stoffels tells the story of two characters, Mee and Mitou, both born into difficult circumstances in relationship to their special storytelling gifts. As each one travels on a hero’s journey, readers grow more and more certain that their meeting is inevitable. Yet, Mee and Mitou are so different that one wonders if a fairy-tale ending is possible for the “singer of sorrows” and the girl with a sunny outlook on life. Continue reading

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A Hero’s Journey Guided by Hindu Deities: Tiger Moon

By Judi Moreillon, Texas Woman’s University, Texas Ambassador for USBBY

In the theory of “suspension of disbelief” as suggested by British poet and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge, it is the storyteller or author who must spin such a compelling tale that the listener/reader will accept a fantasy as a plausible reality. In Tiger Moon, author Antonia Michaelis takes readers on a magical journey of love, deception, courage, fear, and sacrifice in India. Framed like the story of Scheherazade who told her tales for 1,001 nights in order to escape death, Safia tells her tale to Lalit, a servant who is supposed to be guarding her while she awaits her marriage night. On that night, her wealthy husband will learn she is not a virgin and will have the right to kill her.
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The Hero’s Journey in Global Literature: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

By Judi Moreillon, Texas Woman’s University, Texas Ambassador for USBBY

Storytelling is fundamental to the human search for meaning. (Bateson 34).
Book cover for Where the Mountain Meets the MoonFolklore, fables, myths, and legends, stories that originated in the oral tradition are the indigenous literature in every society. Since people were first able to use language for communication, oral storytelling is the way we have passed on our culture and history, beliefs and values. Traditional literature themes reoccur across cultures. These stories explain the relationships between human beings and the animal, plant, and astrological or seasonal worlds. Although the stories may include different symbols and representations, these “folk” ideas center on elemental figures—mother, father, God, trickster, hero, old man, crone, witch, or devil, and on elementary concepts—creation, destruction, birth, death, initiation or coming of age, separation from parents or community, marriage, or the union of opposites. Continue reading

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Nick Glass Interview – Part 4

By Judi Moreillon, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX

Newbery(L)This is the fourth of a planned four-part interview with Nick Glass, member of the 2009 Newbery Committee, conducted electronically by Judi Moreillon.

JM: Nick Glass and I are wrapping up this month’s Newbery Medal Award conversation with a look at the books that have earned this prize since it was first awarded in 1922. That year, The Story of Mankind written by Hendrik Wellem van Loon earned the medal. To support our historical look, we referenced a book now published annually by the Association of Library Services to Children (ALSC), The Newbery and Caldecott Awards: A Guide to the Medal and Honor Books.

In clarifying the criteria for the awards and defining terms, ALSC notes that the “award is for literary quality and quality of presentation to children. The award is not for didactic intent or for popularity” (p. 4). As we noted in early posts this month, the question of popularity should not enter into the committee’s deliberations. Still, every school and public library branch in the country purchases at least one copy of each Newbery award-winning book.

Do we expect Newbery Award-winning books to be enticing to readers? If not, can we rely on teachers and librarians to push titles that possess literary quality but are less popular with young people? What has been your experience?

NG: I absolutely believe the books that have been recognized as distinguished by the Newbery committee will be enticing –- with the caveat that not every book is for every reader. I loved the 2008 Newbery Medal-winning Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! It is both a wonderful book, and perhaps the one of the best curriculum-fit books I’ve read in a long time. It tells marvelous stories of the Middle Ages, and can be performed as fun, comprehension-grasping reader’s theater. Do I expect everyone to pick this book up and find it enticing? No. But for the people who love mini-dramas, goodness, they will love this treasure.
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Nick Glass Interview – Part 3

By Judi Moreillon, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX

Portrait of author Neil Gaiman.This is the third of a planned four-part interview with Nick Glass, member of the 2009 Newbery Committee, conducted electronically by Judi Moreillon. Readers may refer to Judi’s summary of Gaiman’s acceptance speech.

JM: Nick Glass and I were among the enthusiastic authors, illustrators, librarians, publishers, and fans of children’s books at the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet in Chicago. Held on July 12th during the Annual American Library Association Conference, this event gives the award winners the opportunity to share their responses to earning the awards, a peek into their creative processes, and, we hope, a glimpse into their hearts. I have attended this event for many years, and I always leave the banquet hall with admiration for the talent and generous spirit of the award winners. This year was no exception. Nick, what were some of the memorable moments in Neil Gaiman’s Newbery acceptance speech?
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Summary of Gaiman’s Newbery Speech

By Judi Moreillon, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX

This summary of Neil Gaiman’s 2009 Newbery Award acceptance speech is a supplement to the planned four-part interview with Nick Glass, member of the 2009 Newbery Committee, conducted electronically by Judi Moreillon.

Please read The Horn Book editor Elise Howard’s introduction of Neil Gaiman.

Neil Gaiman divided his Newbery Acceptance Speech into six parts, as he said “for no particular reason.” He shared the role of this award in impressing his own children; who doesn’t want to be a hero to his/her kids? He talked about his youth as a “feral child” who raised himself among the library stacks, where early on he satisfied his curiosity about “ghosts, witches, magic, and space.” He shared the surreal experience of being sleep deprived at the moment he first heard the excited chorus of the 14 members of the Newbery Committee, delivered via speakerphone to his Los Angeles hotel room. He talked about being on the side of books you love.
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Nick Glass Interview – Part 2

By Judi Moreillon, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX

The book jacket to The Graveyard Book, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean.

This is the second of a planned four-part interview with Nick Glass, member of the 2009 Newbery Committee, conducted electronically by Judi Moreillon.

JM: Welcome back, Nick and WOW Currents readers.

Let’s talk about The Graveyard Book. In the International Reading Association publication Reading Today (April/May 2009), Gaiman notes that “all books are collaborative.” Similar to reading scholar Louise Rosenblatt, he describes the reading transaction as a collaborative creation between the author, the reader and his/her background experience, and the actual words and images of the text.

What was your response to the book when you first read it? Did your response change when you discussed it with your fellow committee members?

NG: The “collaborative creation” concept that you describe in your question, between the author, the reader and his/her background experience, and the actual words and images of the text,” is a beautiful thought, and definitely resonates with me. And yes, I believe this multidimensional experience works very well with The Graveyard Book, or many great books, because of the reactions readers have during the journey we take.
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An Interview with Nick Glass – Introduction

By Judi Moreillon, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX

This is the Newbery Medal. The bronze medal is awarded annually to the author with the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

This is the first of a planned four-part interview with Nick Glass, member of the 2009 Newbery Committee, conducted electronically by Judi Moreillon.

JM: Thank you, Nick Glass, for your willingness to share your 2009 Newbery Committee experience with WOW Currents readers. There has been a great deal of buzz in the children’s literature community since the 2009 Newbery Committee selected Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book as this year’s medal winner. Many of us are looking forward to Gaiman’s upcoming speech at this year’s Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet at ALA in Chicago on July 12th. Before we talk about the book, let’s give WOW Currents readers some background on the Newbery Committee selection process and the process used for selecting the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” How were you selected for the committee? Have you served on a book award committee previously?

NG: I was elected to the 2009 John Newbery Award selection committee by the membership of the American Library Association (ALA) division that administers this award, ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children). This was quite an honor, and a real shock to me. You see, I’m not a librarian. I’m a book lover. I’m a professional in the world of children’s books. But I’m not a librarian – and I always thought that librarians and academics in the field were those who got to serve on these committees.
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