Why Children’s Books Matter

This is me and a friend with K. A. Applegate, author of the Animorphs series. Animorphs, Harry Potter, the Julie of the Wolves books, and Harriet the Spy are what made me want to be a writer. So, when K. A. Applegate was scheduled to appear at my local bookstore, my friend and I knew we had to go. What struck me most about actually meeting one of my favorite authors from childhood in the flesh was how she was so encouraging of the kids who liked writing or wanted to be writers and so excited to see her older readers, saying Animorphs fans grew up to be the coolest people. When K. A. Applegate was asking a little girl if she was a writer and encouraging her to be one, I couldn’t help but think how much that would have meant to me as a kid.

K. A. Applegate and J. K. Rowling were my heroes. They filled my shelf and shaped my budding view of the world. Honestly, I still get confused when people say women can’t write sci-fi or military science fiction because K. A. Applegate was the first sci-fi writer I knew. Sure, my first memories are of either the children’s room at my church or my parents watching Star Trek (which explains more about me than you know) and I loved Star Wars, but the first sci-fi books that I really engaged with and enjoyed were the Animorphs books. Continue reading

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The Fanny Tales – The Barista’s Tale

Please see my previous post, “The Fanny Tales – The Barista” for an explanation of what the hell this is and for the introductory prologue of my modern Chaucerian character, The Barista. As stated before, the assignment was to write a tale that the character might actually tell, thus creating a collection of different stories in diverse styles with vastly different morals. As the class’s bawdy tale of sexual escapades was covered by “The Marriage Counselor’s Tale” (see previous post), I decided to play it straight, as I think this at times cynical barista may still believe in happy endings.  Continue reading

The Fanny Tales – The Barista

Tonight I started reading The Canterbury Tales again. For those who don’t know, The Canterbury Tales tells the story of a group of people who meet at an inn before setting out on a pilgrimage to Canterbury and agree to tell each other stories along the way to pass the time. The text follows a general pattern of a character’s prologue followed by the story they tell.

Back when we studied The Canterbury Tales in high school, my humanities teacher, a fantastic woman named Mrs. Fanny (no doubt where she got her healthy appreciation for bawdy puns), had us each come up with a modern character (characters in the Tales are known by their profession, e.g. The Knight or The Pardoner or The Wife of Bath) and write their prologue and a tale they would tell, reflective of their values and personality. This resulted in such gems as The Child Star and The Marriage Counsellor. Continue reading

When A Hero Comes Home

A soldier returns home from battle but has brought the war with him. He stares off into the distance, unable to take joy in his family or friends, still hyperalert to threats he no longer faces. Unable to heal his invisible wound, he takes his own life.

This isn’t a tragic news story about a veteran coming back from Afghanistan with a case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It’s a summary of the Greek play “Ajax,” which is more than 2,000 years old (“Ancient warrior myths help veterans fight PTSD“).

Since I touched on PTSD in the classics in the last post and it is Memorial Day, it seemed only right to share this article I stumbled upon about how ancient myths, plays, and literary works are helping veterans heal, cope, and transition after coming home from war. I actually studied this at length in school, particularly in several epic literature classes, a class on genocide and reconciliation, a class on Ancient Ireland, and a class on combat trauma and how it relates to Ancient Greek theatre, most of them taught by Professor Robert Meagher of Hampshire College, who specializes in this (among other things). Continue reading