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Joan Holub , Suzanne Williams

Goddess Girls (Series, Book 13): Athena the Proud

YEAR: 2014

COUNTRY: United States of America

Cateogry icon

Title of the work

Goddess Girls (Series, Book 13): Athena the Proud

Country of the First Edition

Country/countries of popularity

Worldwide

Original Language

English

First Edition Date

2014

First Edition Details

Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams, Goddess Girls: Athena the Proud. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division. New York: Aladdin Press, 2014, 224 pp.

ISBN

9781442488205 (paperback)

Genre

Alternative histories (Fiction)
Bildungsromans (Coming-of-age fiction)
Fiction
Humor
Mythological fiction
Novels
School story*

Target Audience

Children (Older children, 8-12 yrs)

Cover

Missing cover

We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.


Author of the Entry:

Ayelet Peer, Bar Ilan University, ayelet.peer@gmail.com 

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Lisa Maurice, Bar Ilan University, lisa.maurice@biu.ac.il 

Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, s.deacy@roehampton.ac.uk 

Photo courtesy of Joan Holub.

Joan Holub , b. 1956
(Author)

Joan Holub is a prolific children's author from the USA. Graduated from college in Texas with a fine arts degree. Worked as an art director at Scholastic trade books in New York. She has written and/or illustrated over 150 children's books. She has developed a range of series for teenagers on mythological themes: Goddess Girls, set in Mount Olympus Academy, Grimmtastic Tales series, set in Grimm Academy, Thunder Girls, about Norse gods set in Asgard Academy, and Heroes in Training, in which the male Greek gods, as very young men, set out on a range of adventures. For pre-school children, Jan Holub has written on a range of topics including several works with religious and historical themes. These include: This Little President; This Little Trailblazer, Hooray for St. Patrick’s Day!, and Light the Candles: A Hanukkah Lift-the-Flap Book. Joan Holub trained in fine art and worked as an art director at a graphic design company before becoming a children's illustrator and then author.

 

Sources:

Official website (accessed: July 2, 2018).

Profile at the penguinrandomhouse.com (accessed: July 2, 2018).

Profile at the simonandschuster.com (accessed: July 2, 2018).


Bio prepared by Sonya Nevin, University of Roehampton, sonya.nevin@roehampton.ac.uk, and Allison Rosenblum, Bar Ilan University, allie.rose89@gmail.com, and Ayelet Peer, Bar Ilan University,  ayelet.peer@gmail.com

Questionnaire

1. What drew you to writing/working with Classical Antiquity and what challenges did you face in selecting, representing, or adapting particular myths or stories?

I learned to love Greek and Norse mythology in elementary school. I’m very comfortable adapting the framework of an existing myth or fairy tale by pushing it into a different setting, adding humor, and/or building in a nonfiction component. Staying true to the essential core of each myth along the way is important to me. A young Goddess Girls reader once told me she enjoyed the series because she “learned something”. In other words, while she liked being entertained, she appreciated that her familiarity and factual understanding of the original myths was broadened at the same time. 


2. Why do you think classical / ancient myths, history, and literature continue to resonate with young audiences?

Kids have questions about their world. So it’s interesting to them to learn how ancient Greeks and other cultures answered questions about how their world worked in exciting tales of heroes and beasts. How did the sun cross the sky? In a chariot drawn by the god Helios. What caused night? The goddess Nyx’s starry cape covered the sky. Thrilling stories of courage and danger, such as Heracles’ twelve labors, the Trojan Horse, and the Argonauts never go out of style. 


3. Do you have a background in classical education (Latin or Greek at school or classes at the University?) What sources are you using? Scholarly work? Wikipedia? Are there any books that made an impact on you in this respect?

I have an entire shelf of mythology resource books. Some of my favorite go-to sources are the Scholastic Mythlopedia series, Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, and www.theoi.com (accessed: May 28, 2018).


4. How concerned were you with "accuracy" or "fidelity" to the original? (another way of saying that might be—that I think writers are often more "faithful" to originals in adapting its spirit rather than being tied down at the level of detail—is this something you thought about?)

Each book in the Goddess Girls series (ages 8-12, Simon and Schuster) and Heroes in Training series (ages 7-10, Simon and Schuster) is a retelling of one or two Greek myths, with a twist. We stay as true as possible to the core bones of an original myth in order to give young readers a good understanding, but we include kid situations and humor to entertain. As an example, in Goddess Girls #1: Athena the Brain, Athena is summoned to attend Mount Olympus Academy, where Zeus is the principal. MOA teachers include Mr. Cyclops, who teaches Hero-ology, a class where students are graded on their abilities to maneuver small hero figures such as Odysseus, around a gameboard to enact the Trojan War, etc. Meanwhile, Athena, who is the goddess of invention among other things, inadvertently turns mean-girl Medusa’s hair to snakes and gives her the power to turn mortals to stone by means of a shampoo-like invention called Snakeypoo at the MOA invention fair.


5. Are you planning any further forays into classical material? 

Suzanne Williams and I have written a new middle grade series called Thunder Girls (accessed: May 28, 2018), which is a twist on Norse mythology featuring strong girl characters. The first book Freya and the Magic Jewel releases May 2018 for ages 8-12, published by Simon and Schuster. 


Prepared by Allison Rosenblum, Bar Ilan University, allie.rose89@gmail.com, and Ayelet Peer, Bar Ilan University,  ayelet.peer@gmail.com


Curtesy of the Author form her personal website.

Suzanne Williams , b. 1953
(Author)

Suzanne Williams is an American prolific children's author and former elementary school librarian. She has written over 60 books for children.

She grew up in Oregon and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s in library science from the University of Oregon. She currently lives in Reno, Washington.


Source: 

Official website (accessed: May 29, 2018).

 

Bio prepared by Ayelet Peer, Bar Ilan University, ayelet.peer@gmail.com

Questionnaire

1. What drew you to writing/working with Classical Antiquity and what challenges did you face in selecting, representing, or adapting particular myths or stories?

Writing about Greek mythology was my co-author, Joan Holub’s idea. She's loved mythology since childhood. Her enthusiasm for the subject got me excited about it too. Goddess Girls (ages 8 – 12) was our very first collaboration. Soon there will be 26 books in that series. One of the challenges we’ve faced in writing our (soon to be four) myth-based series for young readers is how to handle the sexual and violent content of many of the myths. 

To downplay the violence, we often make it cartoonish and lighten it with humor. Since most of our gods and goddesses are pre-teens (as are our readers!), we deal with inappropriate sexual content by making changes that still allow us to keep to the spirit of the myth. For example: in introducing the Adonis myth, in which Aphrodite and Persephone fight over a beautiful youth they both desire, we decided to make Adonis a kitten, rather than a young man. 

Another challenge has involved familial relationships among the various gods and goddesses. In Goddess Girls, Zeus is an adult, the principal of Mount Olympus Academy, the school attended by our “goddessgirls” and “godboys”. In mythology he would likely have fathered a good portion of the student body! So we made a decision that only Athena would call him “Dad”. (Until Hebe popped forth from a lettuce in Book 21, that is.) We do acknowledge many other family relationships. For example: Apollo and Artemis as brother and sister. Medusa and her sisters Euryale and Stheno. Persephone and her mother, Demeter.

 

2. Why do you think classical / ancient myths, history, and literature continue to resonate with young audiences?

Myths have got all the elements that draw us to stories: action, conflict, drama, humor, etc. What’s not to like?


3. Do you have a background in classical education (Latin or Greek at school or classes at the University?) What sources are you using? Scholarly work? Wikipedia? Are there any books that made an impact on you in this respect?

Neither Joan nor I have a classical education. I did take an online Greek and Roman mythology class a few years ago, however. (Taught by Peter Struck, University of Pennsylvania.) Terrific class!

For our Greek mythology-based series, Edith Hamilton’s Mythology is the reference we rely on the most. My co-author and I do consult Wikipedia and other online resources, especially for lists of monsters and maps and general information about ancient Greece. References for Thunder Girls, our soon-to-be-published Norse mythology-based series include: The Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland, D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths, Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs by John Lindow, The Poetic Edda (translated and edited by Jackson Crawford), and The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson (Penguin Classics).


4. Are you planning any further forays into classical material?

In addition to Goddess Girls, my co-author and I have also collaborated on a second Greek mythology- based series called Heroes in Training (ages 6 – 9). It’s a humorous quest/adventure series with Zeus, Poseidon, Hades and other Olympians as ten-year-olds on the run from King Cronus and the Titans. Freya and the Magic Jewel, the first book in Thunder Girls, our Norse mythology-based series, publishes May 1, 2018. I travel to Norway frequently to visit my daughter, granddaughter, and Norwegian son-in-law, so I am very excited to be doing a Norse-myth series. Aladdin (Simon & Schuster) publishes all three of Joan’s and my mythology-based series. We will be doing a fourth myth-based series with them soon – for ages 5 – 8. Tentative title is Little Goddess Girls, and it will be another Greek myth-based series.


Prepared by Ayelet Peer, Bar Ilan University, ayelet.peer@gmail.com


Summary

The students are traveling to King Minos’ new amusement park which includes a Labyrinth and a mechanical Minotaur. They also meet the King’s daughter Ariadne and the court’s inventor Daedalus. They are joined by Heracles’ cousin, Theseus. Athena, the heroine of this story, learns a valuable lesson about pride while Theseus learns how to be a hero.

In the story we have two parallel stories; one about Athena and one about Theseus. Athena is the smartest girl at the academy; she excels in inventing things while being humble most of the time, Athena is proud of her talent, perhaps too proud. She tries to improve Daedalus’ labyrinth and almost causes great distress. The parallel story is of Theseus who is envious of Heracles’ heroism and fame. Athena resents him at first, because she cannot be alone with Heracles, but at the end she realizes they are more similar than she initially thought: He (Theseus) wanted to prove himself a hero, a desire that was probably every bit as important to him as inventing things was to her. (148).

Analysis

In this book, the message is that pride always comes before a fall, especially in the Greek world; Athena learns that the hardest thing of all is to admit her mistake. She notes that she and Theseus had both learned a lot on this trip…not just about humility but about facing down their fears too. (203). Yet the reward is equally impressive - she gains a true friend in Daedalus and does not lose his admiration for her even after admitting her mistake, while Theseus wins Heracles’ approval as well as the love of Ariadne. In the world of the goddess girls, no fault is irrevocable if one really wishes to change. Making mistakes and realizing and correcting them is much more important than being perfect. 

In keeping with the light tone of the story, the labyrinth and the Minotaur are not really ominous and dangerous, and there is a nice touch of mythological self-consciousness in that King Minos invites 14 students to come to the first opening of the park. The story is updated in order to make the female heroines more powerful; although Ariadne falls for Theseus when he is leaving, it is she who chases him back to school as a stowaway on the school’s chariot, rather than passively being cast away as in the original myth. Thus even Ariadne gets her happy ending.


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Title of the work

Goddess Girls (Series, Book 13): Athena the Proud

Country of the First Edition

Country/countries of popularity

Worldwide

Original Language

English

First Edition Date

2014

First Edition Details

Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams, Goddess Girls: Athena the Proud. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division. New York: Aladdin Press, 2014, 224 pp.

ISBN

9781442488205 (paperback)

Genre

Alternative histories (Fiction)
Bildungsromans (Coming-of-age fiction)
Fiction
Humor
Mythological fiction
Novels
School story*

Target Audience

Children (Older children, 8-12 yrs)

Cover

Missing cover

We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.


Author of the Entry:

Ayelet Peer, Bar Ilan University, ayelet.peer@gmail.com 

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Lisa Maurice, Bar Ilan University, lisa.maurice@biu.ac.il 

Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, s.deacy@roehampton.ac.uk 

Photo courtesy of Joan Holub.

Joan Holub (Author)

Joan Holub is a prolific children's author from the USA. Graduated from college in Texas with a fine arts degree. Worked as an art director at Scholastic trade books in New York. She has written and/or illustrated over 150 children's books. She has developed a range of series for teenagers on mythological themes: Goddess Girls, set in Mount Olympus Academy, Grimmtastic Tales series, set in Grimm Academy, Thunder Girls, about Norse gods set in Asgard Academy, and Heroes in Training, in which the male Greek gods, as very young men, set out on a range of adventures. For pre-school children, Jan Holub has written on a range of topics including several works with religious and historical themes. These include: This Little President; This Little Trailblazer, Hooray for St. Patrick’s Day!, and Light the Candles: A Hanukkah Lift-the-Flap Book. Joan Holub trained in fine art and worked as an art director at a graphic design company before becoming a children's illustrator and then author.

 

Sources:

Official website (accessed: July 2, 2018).

Profile at the penguinrandomhouse.com (accessed: July 2, 2018).

Profile at the simonandschuster.com (accessed: July 2, 2018).


Bio prepared by Sonya Nevin, University of Roehampton, sonya.nevin@roehampton.ac.uk, and Allison Rosenblum, Bar Ilan University, allie.rose89@gmail.com, and Ayelet Peer, Bar Ilan University,  ayelet.peer@gmail.com


Curtesy of the Author form her personal website.

Suzanne Williams (Author)

Suzanne Williams is an American prolific children's author and former elementary school librarian. She has written over 60 books for children.

She grew up in Oregon and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s in library science from the University of Oregon. She currently lives in Reno, Washington.


Source: 

Official website (accessed: May 29, 2018).

 

Bio prepared by Ayelet Peer, Bar Ilan University, ayelet.peer@gmail.com


Summary

The students are traveling to King Minos’ new amusement park which includes a Labyrinth and a mechanical Minotaur. They also meet the King’s daughter Ariadne and the court’s inventor Daedalus. They are joined by Heracles’ cousin, Theseus. Athena, the heroine of this story, learns a valuable lesson about pride while Theseus learns how to be a hero.

In the story we have two parallel stories; one about Athena and one about Theseus. Athena is the smartest girl at the academy; she excels in inventing things while being humble most of the time, Athena is proud of her talent, perhaps too proud. She tries to improve Daedalus’ labyrinth and almost causes great distress. The parallel story is of Theseus who is envious of Heracles’ heroism and fame. Athena resents him at first, because she cannot be alone with Heracles, but at the end she realizes they are more similar than she initially thought: He (Theseus) wanted to prove himself a hero, a desire that was probably every bit as important to him as inventing things was to her. (148).

Analysis

In this book, the message is that pride always comes before a fall, especially in the Greek world; Athena learns that the hardest thing of all is to admit her mistake. She notes that she and Theseus had both learned a lot on this trip…not just about humility but about facing down their fears too. (203). Yet the reward is equally impressive - she gains a true friend in Daedalus and does not lose his admiration for her even after admitting her mistake, while Theseus wins Heracles’ approval as well as the love of Ariadne. In the world of the goddess girls, no fault is irrevocable if one really wishes to change. Making mistakes and realizing and correcting them is much more important than being perfect. 

In keeping with the light tone of the story, the labyrinth and the Minotaur are not really ominous and dangerous, and there is a nice touch of mythological self-consciousness in that King Minos invites 14 students to come to the first opening of the park. The story is updated in order to make the female heroines more powerful; although Ariadne falls for Theseus when he is leaving, it is she who chases him back to school as a stowaway on the school’s chariot, rather than passively being cast away as in the original myth. Thus even Ariadne gets her happy ending.


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