First times are exciting, whether it’s your first bicycle, your first job, or your first published book. This month I saw the first color spread from my illustrator, Teri Rider, and today I am over-the-moon about the first review of “Misho of the Mountain.”
This review is especially important to me, because it validates one of the main goals for my book: to help children cope with hardship and failure. There are other objectives: to teach reverence and preservation of nature, and to instill an appreciation of individuality. They are equally dear to me, but this one has the most potential to immediately improve the lives of young people.
I met the reviewer, Dr. Kyle Erwin, a couple of weeks ago at CondorCon 24, a science fiction and fantasy convention in San Diego, California, . At first, I thought of him only as a filmmaker, focusing on his web site and podcast, Backyard Space Opera.
From this shared interest, our conversation branched out into other topics. It turns out that Dr. Erwin has been a public school teacher, special education teacher, and school administrator and is a practicing psychotherapist. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history education from Northern Arizona University, masters and doctorate degrees in education from the University of Southern California, and a masters degree in marital and family therapy from Alliant International University.
One topic led to another, and he graciously agreed to review my book. I received his review this week, and was jubilant to see that a professional educator “got” Misho’s message. Without further ado, I’m pleased to share the full text with you here.
The Review: It’s All About Perseverance
“Misho of the Mountain” by Diana Diehl is a fantastic tale of perseverance that can be a great tool for adults working with children.
In the story of Misho, a small seed has big dreams, with a supporter and a nay sayer. The seedling pursues her dreams and finds that it’s not all easy going. However, when she is confronted with obstacles, Misho digs deep to overcome and move forward. Of course, as with any story, the hero has a “dark night of the soul” when external pressures outside her control make going on seem impossible.
The brilliance of the story is how Misho makes her final push by not trying to grasp something for herself, but by helping another. In the end, Misho learns that a community is made up of all kinds who accept differences and help each other.
The lessons of perseverance are something that can be difficult for adults to explain to children. Far too often the message comes out as “just tough it out” or the classic “walk it off”. In schools, pushing kids to overcome obstacles is a tightrope act where each individual child needs a certain amount of support and a certain level of tough love to face the challenge on his/her own. Understanding that perseverance is often uncomfortable and even painful is something that can be directly taught to children both conceptually and as a skill that must be practiced. “Misho of the Mountain” is a great tool in this endeavor.
Misho is also written in fun rhyming verse that will keep kids engaged and help developing readers. The artwork is superb and epic, adding to the story’s charm and an aid to comprehension.
I highly recommend “Misho of the Mountain” to teachers and psychotherapists as an additional resource for instruction in the vital skill of perseverance.
-Kyle Erwin, Ed.D.