Johansen, K.V. 1968–
Johansen, K.V. 1968–
(Krista V. Johansen)
Born 1968, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Education: Mount Allison University, B.A. (history and English; with honors), 1990; University of Toronto, M.A. (medieval studies), 1991; McMaster University, M.A. (English), 1994. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, "growing exotic trees indoors."
Writer. Presenter at children's writing workshops.
Writers' Union of Canada.
New Brunswick Lieutenant Governor's Award for Early Childhood Literacy, 2000, for Pippin and the Bones; Eileen Wallace research fellowship in children's literature, University of New Brunswick, 2001; Frances E. Russell Award, International Board on Books for Young People, 2004; Silver Birch Award nomination, Diamond Willow Award nomination, and Lilla Stirling Award, Canadian Authors' Association, all 2006, all for Torrie and the Pirate Queen; Ontario Library Association Top-
Ten Children's Books designation, and Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC) Choice selection, both 2006, both for Torrie and the Firebird; CCBC Choice designation, Canadian Association of Children's Librarians Book of the Year for Children Award shortlist, both 2007, both for The Cassandra Virus; Silver Birch Award nomination, 2008, for Torrie and the Snake-Prince.
The Serpent Bride: Stories from Medieval Danish Ballads, Thistledown Press (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada), 1998.
The Cassandra Virus, Orca Book Publishers (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), 2006.
The Drone War (sequel to The Cassandra Virus), Sybertooth (Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada), 2007.
"TORRIE QUESTS" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN
Torrie and the Dragon, illustrated by Dean Bloomfield, Roussan Publishing (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1997.
Torrie and the Pirate-Queen, illustrated by Christine Delezenne, Annick Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2005.
Torrie and the Firebird, illustrated by Christine Delezenne, Annick Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2006.
Torrie and the Snake-Prince, illustrated by Christine Delezenne, Annick Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2007.
"PIPPIN AND MABEL" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN
Pippin Takes a Bath, illustrated by Bernice Lum, Kids Can Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1999.
Pippin and the Bones, illustrated by Bernice Lum, Kids Can Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.
Pippin and Pudding, illustrated by Bernice Lum, Kids Can Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.
Author's books have been translated into French.
"WARLOCKS OF TALVERDIN" FANTASY SERIES
Nightwalker, Orca Book Publishers (Custer, WA), 2007.
Treason in Eswy, Orca Book Publishers (Custer, WA), 2008.
Quests and Kingdoms: A Grown-up's Guide to Children's Fantasy Literature, Sybertooth (Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada), 2005.
Beyond Window Dressing?: Canadian Children's Fantasy at the Millenium, Sybertooth (Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada), 2007.
Contributor of articles and short fiction to magazines, including Phantastes, On Spec, Rural Delivery, Atlantic Horse and Pony, Farm Woman, Resource Links, and Atlantic Forestry Review.
Author's works have been translated into several languages, including Danish, French, and Macedonian.
Canadian fantasy writer K.V. Johansen earned advanced degrees in both English and medieval studies before embarking on her career as a novelist for young readers. "I've always told stories," she once told SATA. "When I was eight or nine I started writing them down, and I find it hard to imagine myself doing anything else." Among Johansen's award-winning books for young readers are her "Torrie Quests" and "Warlocks of Talverdin" fantasy novels, as well as a science-fiction adventure that takes place in the near future and plays out in The Cassandra Virus and The Drone War.
Johansen began her career with Torrie and the Dragon, the first novel in her "Torrie Quests" series. The series is narrated by a resourceful creature name Torrie, who lives in a medieval-esque fantasy world called Erythroth, and recounts the adventures of his youth to the other Old Things that gather in the forest to swap stories. In Torrie and the Dragon Torrie joins enchantress Cossypha to rescue a prince from the dungeons of Cossypha's evil father, Sporryl, and find the magic sword that will help Prince Rufik rid his kingdom of a predatory dragon. In Torrie and the Pirate-Queen Erythroth is ruled by Cossypha's granddaughter. Torrie's adventures take him to sea aboard the Shrike, where he helps young Captain Anna save her father from an evil pirate-queen and encounters everything from treasure and a cursed kingdom to a prince who they rescue from a deserted island.
The adventures of Torrie and Anna continue in Torrie and the Firebird, as they help a young boy prove his innocence of a terrible crime by tracking down one of the most destructive powers in their world. In Torrie and the Snake-Prince the oldest of the Old Things meets Wren, a poor, lame girl who is unaware of what the fates have in store for her. Helped by Torrie, Wren joins in the effort to rescue Prince Liasis from an evil sorcerer and his goblin henchmen. Comparing the "Torrie's Quest" series to books by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, Resource Links critic David Ward noted that Johansen incorporates the medieval elements of her fantasy world "with a rhythm and vocabulary that bring the reader close to this Dark Ages fantastical environment," resulting in a setting that is "remarkably resilient, fresh, and consistent."
Describing her "Pippin and Mabel" books—Pippin Takes a Bath, Pippin and the Bones, and Pippin and Pudding—as "an aberration" because there's "not a dragon, demon, or troll in sight," Johansen explained the genesis of the three-book series. "Pippin is based on my own dog, Pippin, who is a Husky/German Shepherd/Labrador mix. But in [the real] Pippin's case, life usu-
ally imitates art, rather than the other way around. He was never sprayed by a skunk until after I wrote Pippin Takes a Bath, and a few months after Pippin and Pudding (in which Pippin finds a kitten) was published, a stray cat showed up and adopted us. Pippin still hasn't found any ancient bones, so far as I know." In Resource Links, Judy Cottrell praised Pippin and Pudding as "a good read-aloud for … animal lovers" and an effective resource in "lessons on friendship, bonding and emotions."
Nightwalker is the first volume in Johansen's "Warlocks of Talverdin" fantasy series. Taking place on an island called Eswiland, the novel introduces readers to wizards called Nightwalkers because they can see the unseen in the dark. Orphaned as an infant, Maurey has always stood out from his fellow villagers because of his dark eyes and strange appearance. When it is discovered that he is a nightwalker, Maurey is tossed into the dungeon on orders of the king. Rescued from certain death by Annot, a young baroness, Maurey now learns to harness his special skills and realizes that he alone holds the key to saving the secret kingdom that serves as the Night-eyes' only refuge. Hailing the novel as a "promising start" to a new series, Booklist contributor Diana Tixier Herald wrote that Johansen's "fast-paced" and "fully realized fantasy" features "compelling characters and conflicts that make sense" within the bounds of the story's fantastic premise.
In both The Cassandra Virus and The Drone War, Johansen turns to science fiction. In the first book readers meet thirteen-year-old Helen, who is working to save one of the few frog species still living on a near-future Earth. When Helen's bored, super-smart friend Jordan creates a virtual computer that inhabits and grows on the World Wide Web, the two friends soon find themselves in the middle of a government operation, hoping to keep Cassandra away from those who would use it for evil purposes. Because of her work in artificial intelligence, Jordan's older sister Cassie finds herself the target of spies in The Drone War. Soon Jordan has marshaled Helen and Cassandra to help keep his sibling safe, although the group must grapple with questions as to how far they can stray from what is right to fight evil. Noting the humor Johansen weaves within her suspenseful plot, Vicki Reutter concluded in School Library Journal that computer-savvy teens "will enjoy the technology aspects as well as the characters" in The Cassandra Virus. Calling the novel "well researched and topical," Eva Wilson also praised The Cassandra Virus in her Resource Links review and referred to Johansen's prose style as "engaging and light." Praising the novel for being refreshingly "Canadian in content," Lesley Little noted in the same periodical that The Drone War features an "up-to-the-minute" storyline that, despite its technological focus, is "easy to read but not facile or condescending."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, November 15, 1999, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of Pippin Takes a Bath, p. 636; August, 2000, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Pippin and the Bones, p. 2147; April 1, 2007, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Nightwalker, p. 45.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 2007, review of Nightwalker, p. 372.
Kids' Home Library, September 8, 1999, review of Pippin Takes a Bath.
Publishers Weekly, August 23, 1999, review of Pippin Takes a Bath, p. 57.
Resource Links, April, 1999, Connie Hall, review of The Serpent Bride: Stories from Medieval Danish Ballads, p. 25; February, 2000, review of Pippin Takes a Bath, pp. 4-5; April, 2001, Jody Cottrell, review of Pippin and Pudding, p. 4; June, 2000, review of Pippin and the Bones, p. 3; June, 2005, David Ward, review of Torrie and the Pirate-Queen, p. 14; June, 2006, Leslie L. Kennedy, review of Torrie and the Firebird, p. 6; April, 2007, Eva Wilson, review of The Cassandra Vi-rus, p. 14; October, 2007, David Ward, review of Torrie and the Snake-Prince, p. 15, and Lesley Little, review of The Drone War, p. 30.
School Library Journal, November, 1999, Anne Chapman, review of Pippin Takes a Bath, p. 120; August, 2000, Elaine Lesh Morgan, review of Pippin and the Bones, p. 158; November, 2006, Vickie Reutter, review of The Cassandra Virus, p. 136; September, 2007, Emily R. Brown, review of Nightwalker, p. 200.
Canadian Review of Materials Online,http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/ (February 12, 1999), Joanne Peters, review of The Serpent Bride; (January 19, 2001) Catherine Hoyt, review of Pippin Takes a Bath; (May 11, 2001) Catherine Hoyt, review of Pippin and Pudding.
K.V. Johansen Home Page,http://www.pippin.ca (January 20, 2007), "K.V. Johansen."