Thursday, September 08, 2016

Review: My Name is Medusa

My Name Is Medusa, story by Glenys Livingstone, illustrations by Arna Baartz (The Girl God through CreateSpace, 2016), paperback, 8.5 x 11, 52 pages. Also available as an ebook. 

No, this book isn’t about me. Medusa is just my blogger name – but you already knew that, right? My Name Is Medusa is one of a number of children’s books recently brought out by The Girl God, a relatively new organization aiming to educate and inspire children (and sometimes also adults) about the divine imaged as female.

The art of Arna Baartz makes up the largest portion of the pages of this large formatted book with one large artwork on each page. Author Glenys Livingstone’s words (usually 1-6 sentences) are placed above the art. She writes the book in the first person of a mythical girl – perhaps a young Goddess – named Medusa. I would describe Baartz’s illustrations as Expressionist, sometimes verging into Abstract Expressionism. Their colors are intense; her style encourages the imagination.

One of my favorite pictures is about 7 pages into the book (pages are unnumbered) beneath these words by Livingstone who, earlier in the book has Medusa explain that she has “snakes for hair” and likes having them on her head because “They are very clever”(this comment is above a gorgeous Goddess picture). Above the bathtub picture, comparing the growth of humans to that of snakes, Livingstone writes poetically in Medusa’s voice:

Humans shed their skin too, but
not all at once. It comes off
slowly, so you might not notice;
but when you are in the bath,
scratch your skin a little
and see.

The art beneath these words shows a girl in a bathtub filled with blue water (with a touch of pink). Possibly originating on her head are green (with touches of orange, pink, and yellow) snakelike curlicues or spirals that flow all around her (and could be wallpaper or bubbles or…) The bathtub feet are in the form of snakes’ heads and partial bodies. The text then goes into biological and other aspects of human change. Another beautiful Goddess illustration is under Medusa’s statement that some people are afraid of her, because “I’m not scared of the dark.” 

In addition to learning about snakes, including their relationship to wisdom, and why Medusa is not mean and why the dark is good (for example, the positive role dark plays in ecology and astronomy), if you and/or your children’s knowledge of English is almost entirely American you may also learn at least one word that is used in British English but is relatively unknown in American English. It occurs in this phrase near the end of the book: “I like the way things quieten down at night;... If you’re like me, you may first think that “quieten” is a typo. But it’s no typo, it is a verb in British usage meaning quiet and usually used with the word “down.” 
Beautifully written and illustrated, My Name Is Medusa is a creative, inspiring book that is likely to please many children as well as adults, especially those who retain the wonder of child-like imagination. Its author, Glenys Livingstone is founder of MoonCourt, an outdoor Goddess temple in Blue Mountains NSW, Australia. She is also author of the book PaGaian Cosmology: Re-Inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion (2005), and has more recently produced a set of meditation CDs. The illustrator, Arna Baartz, who also lives in NSW Australia, is an artist, writer, educator, and mother of 8 children. She has written or illustrated a number of books and has received awards and honors for her work.

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Judith Laura

More blogs about /goddess/feminist theology/spiritual feminism/pagan/feminist spirituality/.