Read Into It: Wise Child and Juniper

Wise Child and Juniper

by Monica Furlong


Wise Child by Monica Furlong takes place in a small Scottish village, with some magic thrown in for good measure.  Personally, I really enjoy it when fantasy is grounded in a historical(ish) fiction. Wise Child (yes – that’s her name) never knew her mother, and after her father mysteriously vanishes, she goes to live with Juniper, a semi-ostracized woman living on the outskirts of town, who the townsfolk fear is a sorceress. There, although initially resistant and scared, she learns about nature, herbology, healing, and developing her innate talents for more supernatural powers.  Wise Child herself is reluctant to do this and is generally spoiled and whiny at the beginning of the book. But she grows into a competent young woman who has to make some tough choices about loyalty and helps to conquer the challenges, both physical, and emotional, of living with a witch (essentially) as her guardian.  A major puzzle in this book was about Juniper’s own backstory, particularly in regards to how she knew Wise Child’s father, Finbar, and from where Maeve the enchantress’s animosity towards Juniper came.  Fortunately, many enlightening details were added in the prequel, Juniper.

 

Juniper is the prequel to Wise Child, also by Monica Furlong. The character of Juniper is introduced in Wise Child as the village herbalist/outcast/witch.  But through the eyes of Wise Child, the reader sees the truth about Juniper – that she is a kind, patient, wise women who teaches Wise Child how to be doran, a powerful woman adept in natural and beneficial white magic. While Wise Child covers the story of Juniper’s pupil, Wise Child (yes- that’s still her name), the prequel, Juniper, covers Juniper’s origin story and her own experiences training to be a doran, in a unique and heroic coming-of-age story.  Juniper was a substantially different girl than Wise Child. Wise Child seemed portrayed as a more selfish, and ungrateful character who actually had it pretty easy as Juniper’s student.  Juniper, on the other hand,  although a typical child in many ways, was a much more grounded, kind and dedicated child while her own teacher, Euny, was almost shockingly strict and harsh towards her than she later was towards Wise Child.  It was especially interesting to read Juniper after Wise Child.  Juniper was published a couple years after Wise Child and really allowed for some fun introspection and insight into Juniper’s character and backstory. I would definitely recommend these books, as they are so interesting and realistic.  Personally, I would read Wise Child first, then Juniper, then Wise Child AGAIN for the best experience with the most depth of meaning!

Both books explore similar meanings, concepts and themes: The mother-daughter relationship, the teacher-student relationship, respect for nature, the dangers of judging based on appearance, and overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  Ultimately, the stories are both inspiring and encouraging portrayals of young women growing into powerful women in similar, yet original ways.  Their stories follow a similar structure and pattern, but they follow that pattern in unique ways specific to their own individual personalities and characteristics.  I love these books because they effectively communicate that a girl can grow into a strong woman in a variety of different ways, and while the paths to get there may be in the same direction, there are many paths, and not everyone’s path is the same.

awwwwwwww <3

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monica_Furlong

Music Monday: The Call

Music Monday!

Music can be a great source of comfort and inspiration when you’re feeling down.

Today’s song is: “the Call” by Regina Spektor

Listen to the song here (OR just watch Prince Caspian):

Oh… you prefer LIVE.  Well, here ya go then:

Lyrics:

“It started out as a feeling
Which then grew into a hope
Which then turned into a quiet thought
Which then turned into a quiet word
And then that word grew louder and louder
‘Til it was a battle cry
I’ll come back when you call me
No need to say goodbye

Just because everything’s changing
Doesn’t mean it’s never been this way before
All you can do is try to know who your friends are
As you head off to the war
Pick a star on the dark horizon and follow the light
You’ll come back when it’s over
No need to say goodbye
You’ll come back when it’s over
No need to say goodbye

Now we’re back to the beginning
It’s just a feeling and no one knows yet
But just because they can’t feel it too
Doesn’t mean that you have to forget
Let your memories grow stronger and stronger
‘Til they’re before your eyes
You’ll come back when they call you
No need to say goodbye
You’ll come back when they call you
No need to say goodbye”

Why this song’s so cool: It’s soooooo pwetty!

Why this song’s helpful: It’s chock-a-block FULL of inspirey messages and allusions.

Those who leave you never really leave you.

“Just because everything’s changing doesn’t mean it’s never been this way before.” YOU CAN DO IT! You will get through this. This too shall pass.

The war is your challenges and obstacles.  And you’ll come back to yourself and who you truly are once you’ve weathered the storm.

Follow the light.

A reminder that what is important to you may not be important to everyone but that’s okay.

What is the use of stories that aren’t even true?

What IS the use of stories that aren’t even true?


The oft-asked question in Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories is, “What is the use of stories that aren’t even true?”

While Rushdie’s book is described as an example of a more comical and light subdivision of the fantasy genre, each form of fantasy contains within it a variety of aspects that resonate within additional fantastical categories. Rushdie’s question can be applied to and answered through any genre of fantasy.

There is truth in every fictional story, and the uses of fictional stories, while dependent to some extent upon author intent and reader response, are, in fact, infinite.

If fictional stories had no use, why would anyone write fiction or fantasy? 

Storytellers may not be aware of their subtexts, attitudes, or perspectives about the purpose or benefit of their words and stories, but that does not mean they are not present.  While ideas about use may vary and differ, each author must believe that their storytelling will be put to some use or another.  These uses are often subjective, multifaceted, and numerous.  Just as an author may communicate many different ideas, meanings, and uses, readers may also interpret or superimpose many different ideas, meanings, and uses.  C.S. Lewis communicated tenants of Christian theology through many of his works, but he also reiterated the use of fantasy as a way for readers to address real-life issues, through a fantasy world to explore “emotional dilemmas (they) feel faced by in their everyday lives” (Rustin, 1987, p. 40).  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is clearly representative of the important use of fantasy as a tool to address cultural, societal, emotional, and psychological needs, understanding, and development – a prevalent perspective about fantasy’s value and use.

The primary, overarching importance of the use of children’s fantasy literature is the idea that the genre addresses and fulfills vital “psychological, cultural and aesthetic needs which are disregarded by most other forms of contemporary literature” (Oziewicz, 2008, p. 66). 

Fantasy allows the fears and worries of society to be addressed and explored, as well as providing a great deal of “potential as an emotional survival strategy” (Bharat, 2015, p. 305).  In addition, “stories can be a cohesive force in constructing a community” (Mukherjee, 1998, p. 175), a force that allows communities to overcome obstacles and experience positive growth and development.  Lloyd Alexander’s “The Grammar of Story” emphasizes this importance by detailing the ways in which words and storytelling can work magic.  Rushdie’s narrative in Haroun and the Sea of Stories provides valuable political and cultural implications about the intrinsic value and power of words and stories. This is just one narrative that articulates the importance of stories and storytelling and the ways in which they can be applied to resisting terror and oppression by conquering fears through living life instead of through grand, cosmic acts of courage.

Through the creation of a fantasy narrative such as this, an author can invent their own logic and use and incorporated it into each aspect of the story, so it has a sturdy base: “We don’t dig the foundation after the house is built” (Alexander, 1981, p. 10), and the fantasy world must have “identifiable and workable laws underpinning it” (Yolen, 1996, p. 173).  While each work of fantasy is unique, they are all bonded by their structure and interconnected in their capacity to encourage imaginative exploration and address very real concepts, dilemmas, and threats, such as the “tyranny of fear” (Bharat, 2015, p. 304).  New fears are constantly arising, and all types of fantasy literature can help to confront and explore these fears through large societal battles of terrorism and oppression as well as smaller, but no less important, battles of personal conflict, growth, and development.

Conflict is the dynamic element of any story, and the fate of the world can be affected by cosmic, mythopoeic quest and conflict as well as by the conflict-response behavior of a single person, as revealed through interactions with themselves, others, and the world around them.

While each fantasy story may be categorized according to a general consensus of its overall purpose, use, or tone, each fantasy story is an amalgam of diverse components that draw on a variety of ideas about the truth of untrue stories.  “What is the use of stories that aren’t even true?”  The use of Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories is to answer this very question, and in many ways, this is the use of every work of fantasy literature.  Storytellers create illusions, and the truth in that illusion is “how thoroughly it convinces us of its reality; how strongly it resonates in our emotions; how deeply it moves us to new feelings and new insights.” (Alexander, 1981, p. 4).

Truth is not always convincing, and a fantasy story can help a reader to recognize and understand the truth in the world around them.

‘Untrue’ fantasy stories are incredibly valuable in an infinite number of ways.  Each fantasy genre, and each fantasy story, has unique and distinctive qualities.  In mythopoeic fantasy, adventure has momentous scale and consequences. However, while lighter fantasy genres may seem to lack cosmic battles of good versus evil, the adventures and battles still have consequences that are momentous to the characters experiencing them.

While mythopoeic fantasy suggests big answers to big questions, small answers to small questions are just as substantially cosmic to those affected by them.

A child can have an adult adventure that articulates hope for all humanity by the simple act of articulating the hope of one human. 

One human is a part of humanity, and the truth is that one child can change the world.


References

Alexander, Lloyd. (1981). The grammar of story. In Betsy Hearne and Marilyn Kaye (Eds), Celebrating children’s books: Essays on children’s literature in honor of Zena Sutherland. (pp. 3-13). New York: Lothrop, Lee, and Shepard Books.

Bharat, Meenakshi. (2015). Creative fear in Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and Luka: The ‘safe house’ of children’s literature. In Marvels & tales. (pp. 304-323).

Lewis, C.S. (1950). The lion, the witch, and the wardrobe. New York: Harper Collins.

Mukherjee, Meenakshi. (1998). Politics and children’s literature: a Reading of Haroun and the Sea of Stories. In Ariel: a Review of international English literature. (pp. 163-177).

Oziewicz, Marek. (2008). One earth, one people: The Mythopoeic fantasy series of Ursula K. Le Guin, Lloyd Alexander, Madeline L’Engle, and Orson Scott Card. New York: Simon Pulse.

Rowling, J.K. (1999). Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Scholastic.

Rushdie, Salman. (1990). Haroun and the sea of stories. New York: Penguin.

Rustin, Margaret and Michael. (1987). Narnia: an Imaginary land as container for moral and emotional adventure. In Narratives of love and loss: Studies in modern children’s fiction. (pp. 40-58). New York: Verso.

Strimel, Courtney B. (2004). The politics of terror: Rereading Harry Potter,” In Children’s literature in education. (pp. 35-52).

Yolen, Jane. (1996). Turtles all the way down. In Sheila Egoff et al. (Eds) Only connect: Readings on children’s literature. (pp. 164-174). New York: Oxford University Press.

Music Monday: Start it All Over Again

Music Monday!

It’s not Monday*, and I don’t even care.

Music can be a great source of comfort and inspiration when you’re feeling down.

Today’s song is: “Start it All Over Again” by Heidi Talbot

Listen to the song here:

Lyrics:

“I’m the sea that surrounds you
The garden that grounds you
The sun and the wind and the rain
I am every season
You’re every reason
To start it all over again

Soon you’ll sail a wild river
We’ll set sail together
And oceans will call out your name
And by stars you will follow
Your hopes for tomorrow
And start it all over again

And if you stagger or stumble
If dreams start to crumble
I’ll pick up the pieces of pain
I will cradle you cry with you
Pray that you’ll try to just
Start it all over again

Who has eyes that can see
All the things you could be?
Who has ears for the sweetest refrain?
May your heart sing forever
Where the sea meets the river
And start it all over again”

Why this song’s so cool:   Don’t think I could say it better than this guy in the comments: “Makes me feel like I’m in The Shire, smoking a pipe with Gandalf. In a good way.” – Dane Cobain

Oh, HEY, apparently he has a website about writing and music…. 🙂 http://danecobain.com/
And also a fun book blog!!  http://www.socialbookshelves.com/about/

I guess I could only add that if I could marry someone’s voice, it might be Heidi Talbot’s.

Why this song’s helpful: Still don’t think I could say it better than this other guy in the comments: “With a little faith, this lovely song allows for hope beyond what at times feels as if there is only hopelessness.” – Legrand Bakker

No website for this deep thinker. 🙁


More about Heidi Talbot:

http://www.heiditalbot.com/

More about the Mahogany Sessions:

About

*It feels like a Monday to me…

Music Monday: Something to Sing About

Music Monday!

Music can be a great source of comfort and inspiration when you’re feeling down.

Today’s song is: “Something to Sing About” from Once More With Feeling, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode.

Listen to the song here:

Lyrics:

“Life’s a show and we all play a part
And when the music starts,
We open up our hearts

It’s all right if some things come out wrong.
We’ll sing a happy song
And you can sing along.

Where’s there’s life,
There’s hope.
Everyday’s
A gift.
Wishes can
Come true.
Whistle while
You work.
So hard
All day.

To be like other girls
To fit in in this glittering world.
Don’t give me songs.
Don’t give me songs.

Give me something to sing about.
I need something to sing about.

Life’s a song
You don’t get to rehearse.
And every single verse
Can make it that much worse.

Still my friends
Don’t know why I ignore
The million things or more
I should be dancing for.

All the joy
Life sends.
Family
And friends.
All the twists
And bends
Knowing that
It ends.
Well that
Depends…

On if they let you go,
On if they know enough to know

That when you bow
You leave the crowd.

There was no pain,
No fear, no doubt
Till they pulled me out
Of heaven.

So that’s my refrain.
I live in hell
’Cause I’ve been expelled
From heaven.
I think I was in heaven.

So give me something to sing about.
Please give me something.

Life’s not a song.
Life isn’t bliss.
Life is just this.
It’s living.
You’ll get along.
The pain that you feel
Only can heal
By living.
You have to go on living.
So that one of us is living.”

Why this song’s so cool:  Sure – let’s do another Buffy song.  Because they’re great!

Everyone feels like they’re just faking their way through life, hoping nobody notices we’re all just big frauds with no clue what we’re doing. When this feeling gets to be too overwhelming, we can get a bit frantic and spin out of control as we try to grasp anything to hold on to. Buffy LITERALLY spins out of control and almost combusts. But she is saved from an unexpected source, Spike. Which is great because sometimes you can’t predict who or what is going to help you.

Plus I wouldn’t have wanted to see that SUPER CUTE shirt she was wearing to be destroyed.

Why this song’s helpful: Once again, Buffy expresses her struggle to fit in and be ‘normal.’ She is lost and directionless and frustrated about feeling that way when she didn’t used to feel that way.  She doesn’t know how to communicate with her friends, she doesn’t feel like they understand. In addition, she feels extremely guilty for not feeling more happy and grateful that she’s alive. She is trying so hard to focus on the positive and to find something to be happy and sing about, but it is just not working.  That’s not her fault. Sometimes you do everything right, and you still don’t succeed.  Isn’t that a Star Trek quote…? Anyway, so Buffy is trying to fake her way through her life and just pretend that she is experiencing happiness, when the reality is that she constantly feels like she is in hell, that is what depression feels like.


About the musical episode:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0533466/

The Buffy wiki page:

http://buffy.wikia.com/wiki/Once_More,_with_Feeling

Music Monday: The Middle

Music Monday!

Music can be a great source of comfort and inspiration when you’re feeling down.

Today’s song is: “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World

Listen to the song here:

Lyrics:

“Hey, don’t write yourself off yet
It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on.
Just try your best, try everything you can.
And don’t you worry what they tell themselves when you’re away.

It just takes some time,
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine,
Everything, everything will be alright, alright.

Hey, you know they’re all the same.
You know you’re doing better on your own (on your own), so don’t buy in.
Live right now, yeah, just be yourself.
It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough (good enough) for someone else.

It just takes some time,
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine,
Everything, everything will be alright, alright.
It just takes some time,
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine,
Everything, everything will be alright, alright.

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet.
It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on.
Just do your best (just do your best), do everything you can (do everything you can).
And don’t you worry what the bitter hearts are gonna say.

It just takes some time,
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine,
Everything, everything will be alright, alright.
It just takes some time,
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine,
Everything, everything will be alright.”

Why this song’s so cool:  I like how it gently reminds you that often what you are feeling is about your own perception. You can’t control what other people do or think about you, but you can control what you do and think about yourself, and that is what is more important anyway.  It’s about having a positive attitude, but not only that, just hanging on until you get to the point where you CAN have a positive attitude, because that day WILL come.   Also, it’s totally okay to be different! Plus it’s got a good beat that is fun to head-bang and angry-sing to.

Why this song’s helpful: It has a simple, supportive and encouraging message that is easy to relate to. It reminds me of that strategy when you’re freaking out about something  and you do the five year rule gauge to ask yourself: “Will it matter in 5 years?”  If the answer is NO, and it usually is, then it’s probably not as important as you thought.


More about the five year gauge:

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/5-year-rule

More about Jimmy Eat World :

http://www.jimmyeatworld.com

Song Facts:

http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=2720

Fol-De-Rol and Fiddle Dee Dee

The Final Writing Assignment

(For this class anyway…)

FIRST PARAGRAPH:

“Fol-de-rol and fiddle dee dee and fiddley faddley foddle
all the wishes in the world are poppy cock and twoddle.
Fol-de-rol and fiddle dee dee and fiddley faddley foodle
all the dreamers in the world are dizzy in the noodle.”

This is what the sensible people of the world say, according to Cinderella’s fairy godmother in the Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s musical in a song they sing together about Cinderella’s wish to go to the ball.  But together, they discover by the end of the song, that “impossible” can be changed to “it’s possible” with creativity, imagination, hard work, and someone who loves you to help.  Like Cinderella and her fairy godmother, I am learning and exploring how to grant my own wish of forging a career doing what I love: writing, being creative, and helping others.  I don’t yet know what that career will be exactly, but every day I am making choices to steer myself down the path to get there.  And I plan to use every tool and asset I have to help shape my wish out of the supplies I have.  And with a little help, and a little magic, I know I will get to the ball!

SUMMARY:

Turning the impossible to the possible is a process – one that requires many things.  It requires creativity and imagination.  Every day, I am thinking and brainstorming, searching for different ways to achieve my goals.  I am on the lookout for new opportunities to embrace that will keep me moving forward, eyes focused on the path ahead. It requires commitment, dedication and hard work. Sometimes the path is thorny, or blocked by a tree.  I continue to apply my imagination to identify creative and efficient solutions to remove such obstacles.  It requires bravery, and it requires stepping out of your comfort zone.  There is a certain degree of anxiety about the uncertainty of where the path leads, but you can’t turn back. It also requires help and support. Not all of us have a fairy godmother to turn our everyday objects into the perfect materials to achieve our dreams.  But we do have people who love us. Asking for help is scary and hard, but it is something I plan on practicing. Most of all, it requires hope, and I plan on keeping that hope alive, nurturing it, and seeing it bloom and grow into something even more beautiful.

“But the world is full of zanies and fools who don’t believe in sensible rules
and won’t believe what sensible people say..
and because these daft and dewey eyed dopes keep building up impossible
hopes impossible things are happening every day!”

Therapy is Great!/Therapy is the Worst!

  • UGH talking to people – YUCK.

Especially about very personal things … crazy hard for a lot of people (including me.)  But, I’ve seen my counselor for many years.  Even when I didn’t feel like it was helping, it helped a little by making me feel like at least I was doing SOMETHING.  It’s very helpful to get the perspective of someone outside the immediate situation.  And explaining details about your life and experiences and feelings helps you solidify and understand yourself more. And it gets you out of the house at least once a week.

+1 to social interaction.

Pets: Joy VS Burden

You know what apparently helps people with depression and anxiety?

Having a cat. Or dog, or hamster, or whatever.  Something you can cuddle preferably, that is reliant on you, loves you unconditionally, and you think is totes adorbs.

Therapy animals are real, people.  This is the reason I adopted my cat, Brisco (Yes, he is named for Brisco County, Jr.) This is a tough one though, because there is definitely a balance that needs to be struck.  Ultimately, Brisco does help more than he hinders, but there have definitely been times when I wished I didn’t have him.  As with any creature, he can be annoying, persistent, in the way, etc.

derp

He meows at doors at night, knocks things over, gets in the way, tries to trip you, randomly jumps on your face, tries to eat your toes, attacks anything that moves, scratches you up, and will not let you read in peace!  OMG RIGHT NOW he thinks a great place to sit is directly in front of this computer screen!  So in the darkest time, sometimes a pet can be a definite added stressor and source of frustration/annoyance/helplessness.  That said, I am so grateful to have him in my life.  As I gain back more and more positivity, little by little, I see and feel the benefits.  He’s a non-judgmental listener.  He’s a distraction from my problems.  He is obsessed with me and always wants to be with me.  That’s pretty flattering and good for self-esteem.

 


6 Ways Pets Relieve Depression:
https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/05/19/6-ways-pets-relieve-depression/
Pets for Depression and Health:
http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/pets-depression#1
Depression, Anxiety and Pets
https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/depression-anxiety-and-pets/
Awwww who can resist dat face… <3

Music Monday: No One Is Alone

Music Monday!

Music can be a great source of comfort and inspiration when you’re feeling down.

Today’s song is: “No One Is Alone” by Stephen Sondheim, from Into The Woods.

Listen to the song here:

 

Lyrics:

“CINDERELLA
Mother cannot guide you.
Now you’re on your own.
Only me beside you.
Still, you’re not alone.
No one is alone, truly.
No one is alone.

Sometimes people leave you
halfway through the wood.
Others may deceive you.
You decide what’s good.
You decide alone.
But no one is alone.

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD
I wish…

CINDERELLA(To Little Red)
I know…
Mother isn’t here now. BAKER(to Jack)
Wrong things, right things…
Who knows what she’d say?
Who can say what’s true?
Nothing’s quite so clear now-
Do things, fight things…
Feel you’ve lost your way?
You decide, but
You are not alone, You are not alone.
Believe me.
No one is alone.
No one is alone,
Believe me.
Truly…

BOTH
You move just a finger,
Say the slightest word,
Something’s bound to linger,
Be heard.
No one acts alone.
Careful, no one is alone.
CINDERELLA
People make mistakes. People make mistakes.
Fathers,
Mothers,

BOTH
People make mistakes,
Holding their own,
Thinking they’re alone.

CINDERELLA
Honor their mistakes…
Fight for their mistakes-
Everybody makes-

BOTH
One another’s
Terrible mistakes.
Witches can be right,
Giants can be good.
You decide what’s right,
You decide what’s good.

CINDERELLA
Just remember:

BAKER
Just remember:

BOTH
Someone is on your side.

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD & JACK
Our side.

CINDERELLA & BAKER
Our side-
Someone else is not.
While we’re seeing our side-

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD & JACK
Our side….

CINDERELLA & BAKER
Our side-

ALL
Maybe we forgot:
They are not alone.
No one is alone.

CINDERELLA
Hard to see the light now.

BAKER
Just don’t let it go.

BOTH
Things will come out right now.
We can make it so.
Someone is on you side,
No one is alone.”

Why this song’s so cool: uhhhh… because it IS.

Why this song’s helpful:  Not everyone will understand what you are going through, but you’re not alone.  No one is alone.

More about Into The Woods:

The Musical:  http://stageagent.com/shows/musical/1284/into-the-woods

The 2014 Movie:  http://movies.disney.com/into-the-woods/

Stephen Sondheim:  http://www.masterworksbroadway.com/artist/stephen-sondheim/