Gideon, Melanie 1963-
Gideon, Melanie 1963-
Born 1963, in RI; married; children: one son. Ethnicity: "Half Indian/half Armenian." Education: Attended Emerson College.
Girl's Life Top-Ten Pick, and New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age citation, both for The Map That Breathed; Best Books for Young Adults finalist, American Library Association, and Cybils finalist, Children's and YA Bloggers' Literary Awards, both for Pucker.
The Girl Who Swallowed the Moon, Astarte Shell Press (Portland, ME), 1994.
The Map That Breathed, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2003.
Pucker, Razorbill (New York, NY), 2006.
Melanie Gideon realized early on in life that she would grow up to become a writer. "I knew I wanted to be a writer from the time I was eight and read Harriet the Spy," the young-adult novelist wrote on her home page. Gideon's first published piece of writing was a poem published by a local newspaper when she was in elementary school; more recently she has written three books for young adults, interweaving elements of contemporary teen life and aspects of the fantastic into the plots of The Girl Who Swallowed the Moon, The Map That Breathed, and Pucker.
The Girl Who Swallowed the Moon, Gideon's fiction debut, draws on the myth of Demeter and Persephone, telling the story of a girl named Arian who takes on the quest of swallowing a sliver of the moon. Although centered on Arian's experiences, the novel is also the story of four generations of women and the way the stories of their lives interplay. According to Whitney Scott in a Booklist review of The Girl Who Swallowed the Moon, in Gideon's "delightful fantasy … a young woman can more easily avail herself of the ancient, woman centered ways and wisdom" long ago replaced by a patriarchal worldview.
The Map That Breathed is the story of Nora Sweetkale and Billy Nolan, young preteens who discover that they are destined to travel through parallel worlds after Nora receives a mysterious package. When Nora voyages to the world of Sanasarea, she accidentally releases a monster that devours the souls of children from the map in which he was trapped. Together, she and Billy must confront the monster and defeat it. "Gideon has created an original secondary world and peopled it with many, many sympathetic characters," wrote Booklist reviewer Carolyn Phelan. Sharon Grover, writing in School Library Journal, predicted that "readers will be captivated by this book and will long for a sequel."
Thomas Quicksilver, called "Pucker" due to scars on his face, is the hero of the novel that bears his nickname as a title. Thomas has always been an outsider, set apart from his peers by his scars as well as by the behavior of his mother, whom his classmates view as crazy. Sent to Isaura, the world where he was born, to recover an item that will save his mother's life, Thomas faces the temptation to stay in this other world, where he feels he belongs. "This coming-of-age fantasy subtly deals with issues of appearance and substance, loyalty, greed, and change," wrote Lesley Farmer in Kliatt. Michael Cart wrote in Booklist that the story contains "page-turning moments of suspense, plot twists and turns, and narrative surprises," while Francesca Goldsmith commented in School Library Journal that "Gideon's many characters are nuanced and credible."
Gideon is often asked why she writes books for young adults. In an online chat posted on the YA Authors Cafe, she described how reading shaped her understanding of fiction: "The books I read when I was a kid/young adult really shaped me, changed me, pushed me to the absolute edges of myself. What I'm constantly in search of … are stories that make you feel like somebody is peeling off your skin when you read them. Or perhaps crafting you a new one. I frequently had that experience reading literature when I was a kid." Discussing the reason why she writes for teens, Gideon explained on her home page: "The young adult novel speaks to the eternally young part of us all. We all need to hear the truth about good and evil and suffering. We never outgrow that."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 1995, Whitney Scott, review of The Girl Who Swallowed the Moon, p. 800; November 15, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Map That Breathed, p. 609; April 15, 2006, Michael Cart, review of Pucker, p. 40.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 2004, Janice Del Negro, review of The Map That Breathed, p. 230.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2003, review of The Map That Breathed, p. 1224.
Kliatt, May, 2006, Lesley Farmer, review of Pucker, p. 9.
Publishers Weekly, November 3, 2033, review of The Map That Breathed, p. 75.
School Library Journal, December, 2003, Sharon Grover, review of The Map That Breathed, p. 152; May, 2006, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Pucker, p. 124.
Melanie Gideon Home Page,http://www.melaniegideon.com (November 26, 2006).
Penguin Web site,http://us.penguingroup.com/ (November 26, 2006), "Melanie Gideon."
YA Author Cafe,http://mysite.verizon.net/selimsa803/9-13.html (September 13, 2005), Lara Zeises, transcript of online chat with Gideon.