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Joan Holub , Suzanne Williams

Goddess Girls (Series, Book 15): Aphrodite the Fair

YEAR: 2014

COUNTRY: United States of America

Cateogry icon

Title of the work

Goddess Girls (Series, Book 15): Aphrodite the Fair

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: Aphrodite the Fair. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division: Aladdin Press, New York 2014, 260 pp.

ISBN

978-1-4424-8826-7

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

Elizabeth Hale, University of New England, ehale@une.edu.au

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

In this installment, Ares’ sister, Eris, goddess of discord, suddenly appears at his birthday party. The self-confident Ares, the envy of many other godboys, is in fact scared of his older sister who bullied him since childhood. When Eris crashes his surprise birthday party, Ares is terrified: “panic filled him. He had to get rid of his sister before she ruined everything for him here at MOA.” (p. 19). In a retelling of the judgement of Paris, Eris causes strife between the students, especially between best friends Athena and Aphrodite. Each of them covets the trophy (presented by Eris) which is inscribed "to the fairest". With regard to the reception of myth, the judgment of Paris is downgraded here to a school competition between team leaders, Athena and Aphrodite. Even Hera is temporarily caught in the craze but she soon concedes. Zeus harnesses these feelings of rivalry to upgrade the students’ grade, perhaps reflecting a positive effect of discord. Bullying is also treated in a graphically interesting manner. As the discord grows in the academy, so does Eris, who becomes physically bigger and taller as she feasts on the animosity.

However, unlike the mythological judgement, the feud ends with acceptance and forgiveness rather than war.

Analysis

Families can pose a burden at times, especially when a member of the family is the goddess of discord. Ares, the almighty godboy of war, one of the most popular godboys in school is revealed as being bullied by his own sister. In this installment we see how the authors frame the development of Ares in light of his family relations on the one hand, and his friendship with Aphrodite on the other. Again in the series we discover the gap between appearance and inner world. This is not the first instance in which we encounter teenage godboys or goddessgirls who are afraid their reputations at school might be tarnished if their past (or family) become known. Interestingly, it also hints that the world these students built for themselves is partially false. The persona they present at school is in many cases a shining façade, but not their true selves. This is of course in keeping with real teenage mentality, particularly in the over-exposed, modern, digital age). However, what these sudden incidents actually create is the breaking of this façade and the revelation of the true self. Only then are true friendships formed and maintained. Real friends will accept you no matter what. This is the important moral the authors emphasize.

While Eris is the ”bully” and “villain’ of the story, the authors do not take the easy solution of good and bad; bullies also have emotions and insecurities, and Aphrodite, who seems like the complete opposite of Eris, is the only one who can truly understand her. Aphrodite understands the psychology behind Eris’ conduct: “she wondered what it would be like to be Eris, feeding on turmoil and strife most of the time. Seemed like it would make a person unhappy. Miserable, in fact. And people who feel miserable sometimes create misery for others. Kind of a vicious cycle.” pp. 184-5. This is the basic truth behind many cases of bulliness. People who are unhappy themselves and wish to make others like them; misery loves company. This is an insight in trying to understand Eris, rather than to ostracize her. Thus the author presents a didactic lesson that one should not give up on people too quickly. As Aphrodite also notes, ”unlike poor Eris, the goddessgirls’ strength came from friendship, not discord.” p. 246. This is the most important moral lesson of the story, that friendship can overcome discord and it is this that gives you strength, rather than falsifications or lies. Even Eris realises this in the end.

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Leaf pattern
Leaf pattern

Title of the work

Goddess Girls (Series, Book 15): Aphrodite the Fair

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: Aphrodite the Fair. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division: Aladdin Press, New York 2014, 260 pp.

ISBN

978-1-4424-8826-7

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

Elizabeth Hale, University of New England, ehale@une.edu.au

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

In this installment, Ares’ sister, Eris, goddess of discord, suddenly appears at his birthday party. The self-confident Ares, the envy of many other godboys, is in fact scared of his older sister who bullied him since childhood. When Eris crashes his surprise birthday party, Ares is terrified: “panic filled him. He had to get rid of his sister before she ruined everything for him here at MOA.” (p. 19). In a retelling of the judgement of Paris, Eris causes strife between the students, especially between best friends Athena and Aphrodite. Each of them covets the trophy (presented by Eris) which is inscribed "to the fairest". With regard to the reception of myth, the judgment of Paris is downgraded here to a school competition between team leaders, Athena and Aphrodite. Even Hera is temporarily caught in the craze but she soon concedes. Zeus harnesses these feelings of rivalry to upgrade the students’ grade, perhaps reflecting a positive effect of discord. Bullying is also treated in a graphically interesting manner. As the discord grows in the academy, so does Eris, who becomes physically bigger and taller as she feasts on the animosity.

However, unlike the mythological judgement, the feud ends with acceptance and forgiveness rather than war.

Analysis

Families can pose a burden at times, especially when a member of the family is the goddess of discord. Ares, the almighty godboy of war, one of the most popular godboys in school is revealed as being bullied by his own sister. In this installment we see how the authors frame the development of Ares in light of his family relations on the one hand, and his friendship with Aphrodite on the other. Again in the series we discover the gap between appearance and inner world. This is not the first instance in which we encounter teenage godboys or goddessgirls who are afraid their reputations at school might be tarnished if their past (or family) become known. Interestingly, it also hints that the world these students built for themselves is partially false. The persona they present at school is in many cases a shining façade, but not their true selves. This is of course in keeping with real teenage mentality, particularly in the over-exposed, modern, digital age). However, what these sudden incidents actually create is the breaking of this façade and the revelation of the true self. Only then are true friendships formed and maintained. Real friends will accept you no matter what. This is the important moral the authors emphasize.

While Eris is the ”bully” and “villain’ of the story, the authors do not take the easy solution of good and bad; bullies also have emotions and insecurities, and Aphrodite, who seems like the complete opposite of Eris, is the only one who can truly understand her. Aphrodite understands the psychology behind Eris’ conduct: “she wondered what it would be like to be Eris, feeding on turmoil and strife most of the time. Seemed like it would make a person unhappy. Miserable, in fact. And people who feel miserable sometimes create misery for others. Kind of a vicious cycle.” pp. 184-5. This is the basic truth behind many cases of bulliness. People who are unhappy themselves and wish to make others like them; misery loves company. This is an insight in trying to understand Eris, rather than to ostracize her. Thus the author presents a didactic lesson that one should not give up on people too quickly. As Aphrodite also notes, ”unlike poor Eris, the goddessgirls’ strength came from friendship, not discord.” p. 246. This is the most important moral lesson of the story, that friendship can overcome discord and it is this that gives you strength, rather than falsifications or lies. Even Eris realises this in the end.

Yellow cloud