Godkin, Celia (Marilyn) 1948-
GODKIN, Celia (Marilyn) 1948-
PERSONAL: Born April 15, 1948, in London, England; daughter of Geoffrey Maxwell (a pharmacist) and Olive Mary (a teacher; maiden name, Oakey) Godkin; married Brude Dodds, 1981 (divorced, 1984); partner of Olney John Hawkins. Ethnicity: "English." Education: University of London, B.Sc. (with honors; zoology), 1969; Ontario College of Art, A.O.C.A., 1983; University of Toronto, M.Sc. (zoology), 1983. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, painting, cycling, reading, classical music.
ADDRESSES: Home—680 Queen's Quay W, Unit 411, Toronto, Ontario M5V 2Y9, Canada. Office—Division of Biomedical Communications, University of Toronto, Medical Sciences Bldg., 1 King's College Circle, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A8, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Worked as biologist and teacher, 1969-76; University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, instructor in natural science illustration, 1981-82, assistant professor of biomedical communications (formerly "art as applied to medicine"), 1987—, department program supervisor, 1988-89, instructor for school of continuing studies, 1988—; Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, presented weekend workshops in biological illustration, 1983-85. Arts and crafts instructor, Riverdale Community Action Centre, 1973-78; instructor, Network for Learning, 1985, and Royal Ontario Museum, 1985-90. Reptile Breeding Foundation, herpetologist, 1974-76; Glenora Fisheries Station, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, fisheries biologist, summers, 1976-81; Ministry of the Environment, biological consultant, 1985-86. Illustrator, Assiniboine Park Zoo, 1983. Exhibitions: Godkin's work has appeared at Gallery 76, Slusser Gallery, Royal Ontario Museum, Taiwan Museum, Bancroft Art Gallery, Gallery 503, York University, Bologna Fiere, Toose Art Gallery, Arcadia Art Gallery, and Civic Garden Centre.
MEMBER: Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers, Writer's Union of Canada.
AWARDS, HONORS: Information Book Award, Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada, 1990, for Wolf Island; Honour Book, Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada, 1995, for Ladybug Garden.
SELF-ILLUSTRATED; FOR CHILDREN
Wolf Island, Fitzhenry & Whiteside (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 1989, Scientific American Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1993.
Sea Otter Inlet, Fitzhenry & Whiteside (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 1997.
Flying Lessons, Fitzhenry & Whiteside (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 1999.
When the Giant Stirred: Legend of a Volcanic Island, Fitzhenry & Whiteside (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2002.
Clive Roots, Endangered Species: Canada's Disappearing Wildlife, Fitzhenry & Whiteside (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 1987.
Shirley E. Woods, Black Nell: The Adventures of a Coyote, Douglas & McIntyre (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1998.
Shirley E. Woods, Kit: The Adventures of a Raccoon, Douglas & McIntyre (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1999.
Shirley E. Woods, Jack: The Story of a Beaver, Fitzhenry & Whiteside (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2002.
Shirley E. Woods, Amber: The Story of a Fox, Fitzhenry & Whiteside (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2004.
Illustrator of high school textbooks. Contributor of articles and illustrations to scientific journals, including Bulletin of Marine Science, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, Environmental Biology of Fishes, and Guild of Natural Science Illustrators Newsletter.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Illustrating Tooga: The Story of a Polar Bear, written by Shirley E. Woods.
SIDELIGHTS: Celia Godkin spent her childhood in Brazil, her adolescence in England, and her adulthood in Canada. An illustration job preparing signs for the Winnipeg Zoo led to her first book, a collaboration with zoo director Clive Roots on Endangered Species: Canada's Disappearing Wildlife. Godkin eventually went on to write and illustrate her own stories, which feature fact-filled plots and strong ecological themes. While some of these stories are considered more successful than others, Godkin's illustrations are almost universally admired for their evocative coloring and true-to-life details.
Godkin's first solo effort, Wolf Island, tells the story of the impact on an island ecosystem when its wolves are accidentally taken away to the mainland. The promise of a return to balance appears when a natural ice bridge allow the wolves to return to the island. Although Godkin's illustrations were praised by most reviewers, "the ecological message is heavy-handed," wrote Stephanie Loer in Horn Book Guide. Writing in Science Books and Films, Eugene A. Oshima remarked that Godkin "does provide an excellent opportunity for the introduction" of a number of complex biological ideas that parents and teachers can easily build upon.
Ladybug Garden, published in the United States as What about Ladybugs?, is an ecological morality tale about a farmer who sprays his garden with pesticide to rid himself of the bugs he does not want, and as a consequence also rids himself of the insects his garden needs to thrive. When a neighbor helps him solve the puzzle of why his garden is failing, the farmer returns some ladybugs to his garden, bringing it back to balance with nature. "The text is simple and brief and is laced with just the right amount of biological information to teach children without losing their interest," wrote Patricia Hickman in Quill & Quire. "Narrative and illustrations effectively demonstrate how each creature and plant plays a vital role," remarked Diane Nunn in a School Library Journal review of What about Ladybugs? While Books in Canada reviewer Rhea Tregebov objected to the strongly moral flavor of Godkin's story, complaining, "I don't know whether this is particularly good ecology; it certainly isn't good literature," Emergency Librarian reviewer Shirley Lewis cited Ladybug Garden on a list of "Best Canadiana," calling it "a marvelous picture book."
For her next book, Sea Otter Inlet, Godkin tells the story of how hunters destroy the otter population of a remote inlet and change its ecology. Once the otters are gone, the sea urchin population explodes, no longer being fed upon by the otters. Consequently, the kelp bed the urchins feed upon soon becomes destroyed by the overpopulated urchins. This leaves the creatures that hide in the kelp bed vulnerable to their predators, and a domino effect of destruction is wrought. When a pair of sea otters returns to the inlet, however, to feed upon the abundant sea urchins, the inlet begins to return to its natural state. "This nonfiction book leaves readers surprisingly moved, if not teary-eyed, at the end," remarked Paul Kropp in Quill & Quire. Godkin's illustrations were also the subject of lavish praise. "The charmingly drawn otters pull readers in, but the other residents of the kelp bed have their own appeal as well," claimed Arwen Marshall in School Library Journal. In this book, as in some of her others, Godkin's storytelling seems equal to her artistic abilities, according to reviewers. Canadian Book Review Annual reviewer Steve Pitt concluded: "Godkin's elegant prose and lovely pictures tell her story as a lyrical yet scientific equation."
Godkin ventured into the realm of early readers with her story Flying Lessons, which tells the tale of a family of robins as the youngsters hatch out of their eggs and then learn how to fly. The author creates suspense in her illustrations as the youngest bird, reluctant to leave the nest, is compelled to fly when a predatory cat climbs up the tree to his nest. "The story is simple, suspenseful, and even educational," wrote Terri L. Lyons in Canadian Book Review Annual, though she found the language a bit complex for the target audience.
Animals are not the main focus of When the Giant Stirred: Legend of a Volcanic Island, which represents a departure for Godkin. Here she tells the story of the gentle people who inhabit an island overshadowed by a rumbling volcano that finally forces them to leave their homes when it erupts, destroying all the life on the island. At the book's closing, the author offers a view of the island as, over the years, life begins to return to the lava-scarred terrain. "The text is clear, as well as poetic, and describes the original beauty of the island in perfect evocative detail," wrote Isobel Lang in Resource Links. Others noted the author's lushlycolored illustrations, which some considered reminiscent of Paul Gauguin's famous paintings of Tahiti. The resulting book is "a lyrical yet dramatic portrait of nature's cycle," according to a contributor to Publishers Weekly.
Godkin has also illustrated several informational stories about animals, written by Shirley Woods, including Jack: The Story of a Beaver, Kit: The Adventures of a Raccoon, and Black Nell: The Adventures of a Coyote.
Godkin once recalled, "Writing has always been for me a means of communicating an idea, and I think of myself as an educator or as an illustrator rather than a writer. Most important ideas are fundamentally simple, though in many cases their ramifications are not. For this reason, I like to present the idea in its simplest form and suggest some of the ramifications, without laboring over them, so that the reader is encouraged to think through the implications themselves. One advantage of being a Jill-of-all-trades is that there is complete agreement between the scientist, writer, designer, and artist, since they are all housed in the same person. As a result, my text can be purposely spare because I know any embellishment required will be picked up by the illustrations."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Science Explorations 10, Wiley (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1987.
The Storymakers: Illustrating Children's Books, Canadian Children's Book Centre/Pembroke Publishers (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 1999.
Appraisal, autumn, 1995, review of What about Lady-bugs?, p. 20.
Booklist, November 1, 2002, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of When the Giant Stirred: Legend of a Volcanic Island, p. 507; January 1, 2003, John Peters, review of Jack: The Story of a Beaver, p. 894.
Books in Canada, May, 1995, Rhea Tregebov, review of Ladybug Garden, p. 50.
Canadian Book Review Annual, 1997, Steve Pitt, review of Sea Otter Inlet, pp. 569-570; 1999, Terri L. Lyons, review of Flying Lessons, p. 495.
Emergency Librarian, March, 1991, Shirley Lewis, review of Wolf Island, p. 22; March, 1996, Shirley Lewis, review of Ladybug Garden, p. 24.
Horn Book Guide, spring, 1994, Stephanie Loer, review of Wolf Island, p. 34.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 1995, review of What about Ladybugs?, p. 467; September 15, 2002, review of When the Giant Stirred, p. 1390.
Nature Canada, summer, 1988, Bob Waldon, review of Endangered Species: Canada's Disappearing Wildlife, p. 49.
Publishers Weekly, October 21, 2002, review of When the Giant Stirred, p. 76.
Quill & Quire, October, 1993, Scott Anderson, review of Wolf Island, p. 19; May, 1995, Pamela Hickman, review of Ladybug Garden, p. 50; February, 1998, Paul Kropp, "Kids' Nonfiction Has Come a Long Way," review of Sea Otter Inlet, p. 44.
Resource Links, December, 2002, Isobel Lang, review of When the Giant Stirred, p. 5; February, 2003, Stephanie Olson, review of Jack: The Story of a Beaver, p. 21.
School Library Journal, June, 1995, Diane Nunn, review of What about Ladybugs?, p. 100; January, 1999, Arwen Marshall, review of Sea Otter Inlet, p. 115; December, 2002, Harriet Fargnoli, review of When the Giant Stirred, p. 96.
Science Books and Films, March, 1994, Eugene A. Oshima, review of Wolf Island, p. 48.
Teacher Librarian, November, 1998, Jessica Higgs, review of Sea Otter Inlet, p. 52.
Toronto Star, December 9, 1989.