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Heroine’s Journey novels

  • January 2, 2014 7:52 am

The Hero’s Journey pattern was identified by Joseph Campbell in his book,The Hero with a Thousand Faces (first published in 1949). It is a common pattern in many myths and stories from around the world. The basic pattern consists of these elements: call to adventure, crossing into an unknown world, path of trials, magical help, meeting friends and enemies, a final ordeal, gaining gifts, and return to the normal world as a changed person.

Although I only became aware of the hero’s journey pattern a few years ago, I was surprised to realize that I had already written a children’s novel following the hero’s journey pattern some years ago! This pattern is so common that I think everyone is unconsciously familiar with it.

Below are modern novels that exemplify the hero’s journey pattern, and that feature girls or women as the “heroes” . I have included my own as the first one.

Please feel free to comment if you have another “heroine’s journey” novel to suggest!

The Moon Over Crete by Jyotsna Sreenivasan. Eleven-year-old Lily travels back in time 3,500 years to ancient Crete, where women and men were equal. Lily has to figure out how to warn the Queen about an impending fatal attack by patriarchal warriors.

A Riddle of Roses by Caryl Cude Mullin. Meryl, a young bard-in-training, decides to go on a quest to become a bard the “old” way — by experience — rather than the “modern” way — by book-learning. She seeks an ever-blooming rose bush in Avalon, and returns home wiser, more confident, and ready to continue her travels. For ages 9 and up.

The Secret of the Ruby Ring by Yvonne McGrory. Lucy, a spoiled Irish girl, is transported to the Ireland of the late 1800s, where she learns to appreciate her own comforts and family. Kids who enjoy historical fiction should enjoy the details of Irish upper-class life in this charming novel.

The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester. A small-town girl discovers that she has an amazing gift. However, she and her family are shunned because of her gift, and she is sent to a mysterious “school” which turns out to be more of a re-education concentration camp. This book is a favorite among my middle-school students.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Coraline discovers a mysterious door in the old house she has just moved into. The door leads her to a new mother and father who, at first, seem to be everything a kid could desire in a set of parents. Will she be able to escape once she discovers the chilling truth? This book is quite scary for younger readers.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. This classic novel features tons of wonderful female characters, as well as a smart girl protagonist.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. If you’ve only seen the movie, you definitely want to read the book!

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim (for older teens and adults). Four women, tired of their lives in London, embark on a trip to an Italian castle. There, perhaps due to the magic of beautiful views, flowers, and rest, their lives are changed. This is an adventure of the emotions and spirit, rather than a physical adventure. This novel was a best-seller when it was first published in 1922, and was made into a movie in 1991.

Sarah Gives Thanks, by Allegra and Gardner

  • November 10, 2012 5:44 am

Until I read this book, I had no idea how important Sarah Josepha Hale was to our country. She helped make Thanksgiving a national holiday (it was considered more of a New England holiday in the early 1800s).

Although as a young woman Hale was barred from college due to her gender, she studied at home alongside her brother, using his college texts. After the death of her husband, she was able to support her five children with her income as a writer.

As the influential editor of magazines for women, she encouraged education and exercise for women. She frequently wrote about the importance of Thanksgiving as a way to promote gratitude. She sent letters to politicians and businesspeople, and encouraged her readers to do the same. Finally, after five presidents had refused to consider her request to make Thanksgiving a national holiday, President Lincoln proclaimed in 1863 that Thanksgiving would be held nationwide on the last Thursday in November.

Hale’s story is told in simple, engaging language by Mike Allegra, with realistic, colorful pictures by David Gardner. The book also includes a biographical sketch for adults, as well as a list of resources for further reading. This book would be appropriate for elementary students above the age of seven or eight.

Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President, by Malaspina and James

  • October 20, 2012 4:41 am

Just in time for the election, here’s a picture book about Susan B. Anthony voting for President in 1872–well before the 19th Amendment passed in 1920, officially acknowledging that women have the right to vote.

Anthony argued that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1868, gave women the right to vote because it stated that all citizens have equal rights.            

She and 15 other women successfully registered to vote, and cast their ballots. However, soon after the election they were all arrested. Before her trial, Anthony toured the country, arguing her case before the American people.

Although she lost the case and was fined $100, she declared she would never pay a penny.

Anthony’s story is told in simple language by Ann Malaspina, with appealing watercolor illustrations by Steve James. An appendix includes background information for adults, a short bibliography, and a reproduction of a letter Anthony wrote to her friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton after she voted.

This book would probably be most appropriate for ages 8 and up, because younger children may not understand the legal concepts. It could also be used as a quick introduction to voting rights, women’s rights, and/or the 14th and 19th amendments, for older students.                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

My new novel, And Laughter Fell from the Sky

  • June 17, 2012 12:19 pm

 

My new novel, And Laughter Fell from the Sky, although not specifically for young adults, could be read and enjoyed by older teens. The novel is about two Indian-Americans in their twenties who are looking for happiness and fulfillment in the outside world, instead of realizing that they can create their own fulfillment. It’s also a love story with a theme of equality (although it’s not at all preachy about it).

Teachers might be interested in pairing this book with The House of Mirthby Edith Wharton, since my book was inspired by Wharton’s classic.

I’d love to hear from teens and teachers who’ve read the book. Feel free to leave a comment!

Check out my new web site, Second Generation Stories

  • May 25, 2012 5:58 pm

Anzia Yezierska immigrated from Poland as a child. She was a famous Jewish-American writer in the 1920s.

My new web site is Second Generation Stories: Literature by Children of Immigrants (www.SecondGenStories.com).

The site features book lists of dozens of authors who were born into immigrant families, or who immigrated to the U.S. as children. For example, Mario Puzo (author of The Godfather) was a child of Italian immigrants. William Saroyan, a playwright and fiction writer, was the child of Armenian immigrants.

The second generation often face unique challenges which cut across cultures. First-generation immigrant Americans tend to have strong ties to the home country, yet consciously chose to come to the United States. Their children, on the other hand, often have weak ties to the home country and had no choice about being raised in the United States.

The study of immigrant literature often throws first-generation immigrant writers into the same category as their children. In fact, the children of immigrants, second-generation Americans, may have very different perspectives from their parents.