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Joan Holub , Craig Phillips , Suzanne Williams

Heroes in Training (Series, Book 11): Uranus and the Bubbles of Trouble

YEAR: 2015

COUNTRY: United States of America

Cateogry icon

Title of the work

Heroes in Training (Series, Book 11): Uranus and the Bubbles of Trouble

Country of the First Edition

Country/countries of popularity

Worldwide

Original Language

English

First Edition Date

2015

First Edition Details

Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams. Heroes in Training: Uranus and the Bubbles of Trouble. New York: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division: Aladdin Press, 2015, 116 pp.

ISBN

978-1-4814-3512-3

Genre

Action and adventure fiction
Alternative histories (Fiction)
Bildungsromans (Coming-of-age fiction)
Humor
Illustrated works
Mythological comics
Novels

Target Audience

Children (Older children, 8 - 14 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


Male portrait

Craig Phillips (Illustrator)

Phillips is an Australian award winning illustrator who works with various publishers, including Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, Scholastic, Bloomsbury, Egmont, Hardie Grant, and many more. As a child he was inspired by mythology and cartoons, and fantasy novels such as the Hobbit and Conan the Barbarian. He is still fascinated by the cartoons, comics, novels and stories that he enjoyed as a child and tries to capture that feeling in my work. His comics have been serialised in children’s literary magazines and will be collected and published in one large volume 2016 by Allen Unwin. He lives in New Zealand.


Official website (accessed: October 12, 2018).


Bio prepared by 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

This is the eleventh book in the Heroes in Training series (see for example Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom). The Olympians are stranded on an island in the Aegean Sea, where they witness a mighty battle between Cronus and Uranus. The father-son conflict between Uranus and Cronus reflects Cronus’ fight with his own children, the Olympians. Uranus reveals a prophecy that one day Cronus’ child will overpower him and rule everything. Along the way they meet another Olympian, the beautiful Aphrodite. A twist on the story of the Trojan War is introduced when Paris and Menelaus fight over the puppy, Helen, due to a mistake made by Aphrodite. Thus the Olympians who try to save Greece are now being chased by angry Greeks because of this puppy matter.

Analysis

While the Olympians perform many hazardous tasks the books constantly play on the duality in their characters. They are young children, around 10 yrs old, referred to as ”kids” yet at the same time, although they “looked like normal mortal boys and girls, they were actually immortals and their actions were mighty.” p. 2. This kind of reference on the one hand makes the readers identify with the heroes, who are the same age and experience feelings and emotions similar to them, yet at the same time it throws them into a fantasy world, giving the impression that the young reader could also be an immortal god, capable of great deeds. The gods are not childlike in their heroic actions, yet they are very childlike in their emotions and how they bicker and fight with each other. Yet their heroic deeds can only occur and succeed when they work together as a team. This also could be seen as a warning, however, for the reason that the Olympians could accomplish such deeds is because they are immortals. So it is a safe environment for the readers to experience a fantasy world and imagine what they would have done in similar situations, knowing full well that they will not be facing such hazards.

As noted, Corus and Uranus are fighting each other. In a way this could be interpreted as some kind of psychological defence of Cronus’ behaviour, although it naturally does not justify it. Cronus suffers from his abusive father; Uranus tells him “you are a disappointment and a failure.” p. 8. Cronus replies (in a pouty voice, the authors emphasize), “you’ve always liked my brothers and sisters better than me.” pp. 8-9. Ironically, the only way for Cronus to be valued as worthy by his father, is for him to treat his own children badly. There is little wonder, then, he does not know how to act lovingly as a father should. The reader might feel sorry for him, yet the characters obviously do not. Judging Cronus’ past mean acts against them, they do not pity him and ignore this complex situation between their father and grandfather.

The aforementioned prophecy revealed by Uranus, causes yet more tension in the Olympian group. Hera instantly complains “why do boys always get to rule everything?” p. 16. While Athena tries to calm her down by noting the important abilities over which the girls rule (cleverness, fires, etc.), yet one cannot ignore that Hera has a point, making a feminist claim against the mythical patriarchal world. While the authors try their best to empower the girls as equals, the ultimate ruler would still be a boy. Yet the important moral is that he cannot rule alone and he needs the cooperation and combined forces of his friends, both boys and girls.

This sets the stage for the appearance of another girl, Aphrodite who rises from the sea, sleeping, in a large shell. Aphrodite’s looks are instantly noticed (Hera is jealous of course). The association of Aphrodite with a blond hair, on which there is a strong emphasis, is interesting. Though there is no classical description of Aphrodite’s hair, the authors follow the post-classical association of blondness with beauty. In addition, Aphrodite, who just emerged from the sea, acts like a baby who has just discovered the world. While it is true in the context of the narrative, the authors chose to associate beauty, naiveté and at times silliness as related traits in the same character. Aphrodite is naïve and happy and filled with wonder, a dumb blonde. She even presents herself (unintentionally probably) very vainly: “My name is…” She paused and then giggled, as if trying to remember it. Then she said, “Oh, yeah. Aphrodite. I am the most beautiful girl you have ever seen!”. p. 38. It is curious to see Aphrodite stereotypically associated with vanity and silliness, in contrast with the other Olympian girls.

While the story focuses on the gods as children, their struggles and triumphs in a world where adults are mainly a source for fear, the mother image is still a strong source of comfort. The Pythia plays a somewhat quirky mother-figure, yet the real mother, Rhea, offers the true kindness and tenderness. When Zeus finally manages to see her, she commends him for becoming strong and tell him that his friends need him. Yet he complains that the other Olympians do not listen to him. He adds “They’re always fighting. And when I do help them, they never appreciate it.” p. 89. Zeus sounds like a true parent, lamenting the rude behaviour of is children; to this Rhea replies, “being a leader is a thankless job.” Rhea teaches Zeus that he cannot rule in expectation of gratitude all the time; this is not what being leader is about. She encourages him, telling him that he is more important to them than they realise and that he must keep leading them. Only Zeus gets this opportunity to meet their mother, another sign of his uniqueness among the group. Since he is also the one who is struggling inwardly with his position, these comforting words are very needed by him. Even as a young ruler, he still needs to hear the calming words of his mother in order to proceed. He then gets the courage to tell his friends they must trust him since he is their leader. This new-found confidence makes them accept his request for now at least. Team work is the key to successful leadership. The Olympians are not perfect and they can also behave quite badly, yet what differentiate them form their enemies the cronies is their sense of family and belonging. This feeling keeps them from being torn apart. They are definitely stronger together, despite their special abilities. Each of them is unique by himself yet together they form an unbeatable team. 

Yellow cloud
Leaf pattern
Leaf pattern

Title of the work

Heroes in Training (Series, Book 11): Uranus and the Bubbles of Trouble

Country of the First Edition

Country/countries of popularity

Worldwide

Original Language

English

First Edition Date

2015

First Edition Details

Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams. Heroes in Training: Uranus and the Bubbles of Trouble. New York: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division: Aladdin Press, 2015, 116 pp.

ISBN

978-1-4814-3512-3

Genre

Action and adventure fiction
Alternative histories (Fiction)
Bildungsromans (Coming-of-age fiction)
Humor
Illustrated works
Mythological comics
Novels

Target Audience

Children (Older children, 8 - 14 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


Male portrait

Craig Phillips (Illustrator)

Phillips is an Australian award winning illustrator who works with various publishers, including Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, Scholastic, Bloomsbury, Egmont, Hardie Grant, and many more. As a child he was inspired by mythology and cartoons, and fantasy novels such as the Hobbit and Conan the Barbarian. He is still fascinated by the cartoons, comics, novels and stories that he enjoyed as a child and tries to capture that feeling in my work. His comics have been serialised in children’s literary magazines and will be collected and published in one large volume 2016 by Allen Unwin. He lives in New Zealand.


Official website (accessed: October 12, 2018).


Bio prepared by 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

This is the eleventh book in the Heroes in Training series (see for example Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom). The Olympians are stranded on an island in the Aegean Sea, where they witness a mighty battle between Cronus and Uranus. The father-son conflict between Uranus and Cronus reflects Cronus’ fight with his own children, the Olympians. Uranus reveals a prophecy that one day Cronus’ child will overpower him and rule everything. Along the way they meet another Olympian, the beautiful Aphrodite. A twist on the story of the Trojan War is introduced when Paris and Menelaus fight over the puppy, Helen, due to a mistake made by Aphrodite. Thus the Olympians who try to save Greece are now being chased by angry Greeks because of this puppy matter.

Analysis

While the Olympians perform many hazardous tasks the books constantly play on the duality in their characters. They are young children, around 10 yrs old, referred to as ”kids” yet at the same time, although they “looked like normal mortal boys and girls, they were actually immortals and their actions were mighty.” p. 2. This kind of reference on the one hand makes the readers identify with the heroes, who are the same age and experience feelings and emotions similar to them, yet at the same time it throws them into a fantasy world, giving the impression that the young reader could also be an immortal god, capable of great deeds. The gods are not childlike in their heroic actions, yet they are very childlike in their emotions and how they bicker and fight with each other. Yet their heroic deeds can only occur and succeed when they work together as a team. This also could be seen as a warning, however, for the reason that the Olympians could accomplish such deeds is because they are immortals. So it is a safe environment for the readers to experience a fantasy world and imagine what they would have done in similar situations, knowing full well that they will not be facing such hazards.

As noted, Corus and Uranus are fighting each other. In a way this could be interpreted as some kind of psychological defence of Cronus’ behaviour, although it naturally does not justify it. Cronus suffers from his abusive father; Uranus tells him “you are a disappointment and a failure.” p. 8. Cronus replies (in a pouty voice, the authors emphasize), “you’ve always liked my brothers and sisters better than me.” pp. 8-9. Ironically, the only way for Cronus to be valued as worthy by his father, is for him to treat his own children badly. There is little wonder, then, he does not know how to act lovingly as a father should. The reader might feel sorry for him, yet the characters obviously do not. Judging Cronus’ past mean acts against them, they do not pity him and ignore this complex situation between their father and grandfather.

The aforementioned prophecy revealed by Uranus, causes yet more tension in the Olympian group. Hera instantly complains “why do boys always get to rule everything?” p. 16. While Athena tries to calm her down by noting the important abilities over which the girls rule (cleverness, fires, etc.), yet one cannot ignore that Hera has a point, making a feminist claim against the mythical patriarchal world. While the authors try their best to empower the girls as equals, the ultimate ruler would still be a boy. Yet the important moral is that he cannot rule alone and he needs the cooperation and combined forces of his friends, both boys and girls.

This sets the stage for the appearance of another girl, Aphrodite who rises from the sea, sleeping, in a large shell. Aphrodite’s looks are instantly noticed (Hera is jealous of course). The association of Aphrodite with a blond hair, on which there is a strong emphasis, is interesting. Though there is no classical description of Aphrodite’s hair, the authors follow the post-classical association of blondness with beauty. In addition, Aphrodite, who just emerged from the sea, acts like a baby who has just discovered the world. While it is true in the context of the narrative, the authors chose to associate beauty, naiveté and at times silliness as related traits in the same character. Aphrodite is naïve and happy and filled with wonder, a dumb blonde. She even presents herself (unintentionally probably) very vainly: “My name is…” She paused and then giggled, as if trying to remember it. Then she said, “Oh, yeah. Aphrodite. I am the most beautiful girl you have ever seen!”. p. 38. It is curious to see Aphrodite stereotypically associated with vanity and silliness, in contrast with the other Olympian girls.

While the story focuses on the gods as children, their struggles and triumphs in a world where adults are mainly a source for fear, the mother image is still a strong source of comfort. The Pythia plays a somewhat quirky mother-figure, yet the real mother, Rhea, offers the true kindness and tenderness. When Zeus finally manages to see her, she commends him for becoming strong and tell him that his friends need him. Yet he complains that the other Olympians do not listen to him. He adds “They’re always fighting. And when I do help them, they never appreciate it.” p. 89. Zeus sounds like a true parent, lamenting the rude behaviour of is children; to this Rhea replies, “being a leader is a thankless job.” Rhea teaches Zeus that he cannot rule in expectation of gratitude all the time; this is not what being leader is about. She encourages him, telling him that he is more important to them than they realise and that he must keep leading them. Only Zeus gets this opportunity to meet their mother, another sign of his uniqueness among the group. Since he is also the one who is struggling inwardly with his position, these comforting words are very needed by him. Even as a young ruler, he still needs to hear the calming words of his mother in order to proceed. He then gets the courage to tell his friends they must trust him since he is their leader. This new-found confidence makes them accept his request for now at least. Team work is the key to successful leadership. The Olympians are not perfect and they can also behave quite badly, yet what differentiate them form their enemies the cronies is their sense of family and belonging. This feeling keeps them from being torn apart. They are definitely stronger together, despite their special abilities. Each of them is unique by himself yet together they form an unbeatable team. 

Yellow cloud