Myers, Tim (Brian) 1953-
MYERS, Tim (Brian) 1953-
PERSONAL: Born August 14, 1953, in Portland, OR; son of James M. (a doctor) and Tedde (a homemaker) Myers; married M. Priscilla Myers (a university professor), 1973; children: Seth, Nick, Cassie. Ethnicity: "White—with a big streak of Irish." Education: Colorado College, B.A., 1975; University of Wisconsin—Madison, M.A., 1976; University of Colorado—Colorado Springs, teaching credential, 1981. Politics: Democrat. Religion: "Seeker." Hobbies and other interests: Music, sports, hiking, visual art, spirituality, traveling, comedy.
CAREER: Writer, songwriter, and professional storyteller.
MEMBER: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
AWARDS, HONORS: Winner of national poetry contest judged by John Updike; prizewinner, Writers of the Future contest for science fiction; Notable Book for Children citation, Smithsonian magazine, 2000, Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Honor Award for Excellence in Children's Literature, Bank Street College of Education, and Honor Title, Storytelling World, both 2001, all for Basho and the Fox.
Let's Call Him Lau-Wili-Wili-Humu-Humu-Nukunuku-Nukunuku-Apuaa-Oioi, Bess Press (Honolulu, HI), 1993.
Basho and the Fox, Marshall Cavendish (Tarrytown, NY), 2000.
(Reteller) Tanuki's Gift: A Japanese Tale, Marshall Cavendish (Tarrytown, NY), 2002.
Basho and the River Stones, Marshall Cavendish (Tarrytown, NY), 2004.
Contributor of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction to publications for children and adults.
ADAPTATIONS: Basho and the Fox was adapted as a dance program at the University of Utah, 2002.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Good Babies, for Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA); a book of bedtime poems, for Wordsong Press (Honesdale, PA); That Mass at Which the Tongue Is Celebrant, an adult poetry chapbook, for Pecan Grove Press (San Antonio, TX).
SIDELIGHTS: In his work for children, Tim Myers explores Japanese culture, literature, and folklore. In Basho and the Fox, renowned Japanese poet Basho lives a solitary life of writing and study. One of his main pleasures is sitting under a cherry tree on the banks of a peaceful river, contemplating the world and enjoying the cherries. During one eventful visit to the tree, Basho finds a fox eating the cherries. The poet tries to chase the fox away, but the feral and crafty creature stands its ground. The fox knows who Basho is and claims that foxes also have superior poetic ability. The beast makes a bargain with Basho. If the human poet can write a fine haiku, he can claim the cherries. If not, all the delicious fruits will belong to the fox. Basho works hard all winter, creating two haiku to offer to the fox—one of which is the poem that becomes his most famous work. The fox, however, is unimpressed with the work and rejects the poems. Losing his confidence in his abilities, Basho fails to produce a poem for his third meeting with the fox. Realizing that he cannot show up empty-handed—or he will forfeit the cherries—Basho hurriedly writes a last-minute haiku. This time, the fox is pleased—because Basho's latest work mentions foxes. The vain creature concedes defeat and Basho retains access to his cherished cherries.
"This lively tale has good pacing, convincing characters, and a clever ending," wrote Barbara Scotto in School Library Journal. "Delivered with a light touch, in a lyrical narrative benefiting its poetic hero, Myers's cunning caper offers a sage lesson," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer, that poetry exists for its own sake. A reviewer in Horn Book remarked that "the gently humorous story provides a palatable introduction to a centuries-old form of poetry and one of its great masters." The book offers a further lesson, wrote Connie Fletcher in Booklist, who observed that Basho's anxiety and emotional reactions at being rejected by the fox demonstrated "the difficulty of the creative process."
In Tanuki's Gift: A Japanese Tale, Myers offers an adaptation of a traditional Japanese folktale about a friendship between a Buddhist priest and a mystical creature called a tanuki, a "raccoon-dog" with a reputation for mischief. During a freezing winter storm, the tanuki appears at the priest's door, begging for shelter. Despite the tanuki's dubious reputation, the priest gladly agrees to let the creature weather the storm in his house. The tanuki returns each evening for ten winters, and it and the priest develop a deep friendship. When the tanuki asks what it can do to repay the priest for his kindness, the man asks for three pieces of gold. With the gold, the priest would be able to afford to hire more prayers to be said after his death, to ensure his entrance into Paradise. Afterward, the tanuki disappears, and the priest despairs that he will never see his friend again. Months later, the tanuki returns after spending much time and effort mining and refining the gold to fulfill his friend's request and to honorably discharge his debt to the priest. The man is delighted when the tanuki returns and realizes the gold is irrelevant—the creature's friendship is the true gift.
Kay Weisman, writing in Booklist, called Tanuki's Gift "a gentle fable, suitable for both story hours and lap-sharing." A Publishers Weekly critic predicted that the tanuki "will win readers' hearts," and Nancy A. Gifford, writing in School Library Journal, noted that "although both the story and the art are understated, the book has a strong and lasting message."
"I'm a writer, songwriter, and professional storyteller, the oldest of eleven children, a former high-school All-American football player, and I call Santa Clara, CA, and Colorado Springs, CO, my homes," Myers told CA. "I wrote my first poem in sixth grade, have been writing ever since, and love my work more than I can say. My family are also passionate book-lovers and writers.
"I should perhaps add that I'm somewhat famous for being able to whistle and hum at the same time."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 2000, Connie Fletcher, review of Basho and the Fox, p. 249; March 15, 2003, Kay Weisman, review of Tanuki's Gift: A Japanese Tale, pp. 1328.
Horn Book, September, 2000, review of Basho and theFox, p. 553.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2003, review of Tanuki'sGift, pp. 474-475.
Publishers Weekly, September 25, 2000, review of Basho and the Fox, p. 117; February 10, 2003, review of Tanuki's Gift, p. 186.
School Library Journal, October, 2000, Barbara Scotto, review of Basho and the Fox, p. 131; July, 2003, Nancy A. Gifford, review of Tanuki's Gift, p. 115.