the surface, Ted Goodden's book, Glory Boy, reads
like a cautionary tale. It is the simple story of a "do-nothing"
boy and the fate that befalls him. Yet it also possesses a more
protean quality that
touches each reader
Gert, the 12-year old protagonist, is at odds with his mother and
father. He is a daydreamer, always in trouble, not for anything
he's done but on account of all the things he doesn't do. Gert appreciates
the glory in the natural world around him. His parents, on the other
hand, work and worry, and are generally at odds with what to do
with such a boy.
out into the world, Gert happily retreats into the forest, a place
where everything he needs is there for the taking. Ultimately, however,
he falls prey to the harsh realities of winter. As Goodden points
out, "reality bites, sooner, or later." Cold, hungry,
and alone, Gert follows tracks in the snow to find comfort. He meets
Anna: spinner, weaver, and alchemist, and is seduced by her talents.
Anna, in return, recognizes Gert's ability to see glory. Gert becomes
useful, but tips the scales, beyond purpose, into obsession.
Ted Goodden admits
that he struggled with this book. Over a period of 25 years, it
was not so much rewritten as encouraged to evolve. In this final
version, Ted Goodden uses active verbs to describe Gert's time in
the woods, allowing the boy to take on real agency, even before
he meets Anna. This change may seem small, but Ted Goodden points
out, "Gert has to cooperate in his own fate, otherwise he becomes
a victim." He credits his brother Herman Goodden for being
a "sympathetic" editor, targeting only three sentences
for revision. He thanks James Reaney Jr. and Stan Dragland for their
by Ted Goodden
Ted Goodden the book is about balance, "how to become a useful
person, and not lose the childlike qualities we value in ourselves
and others." Essentially, glory traps are those things that
suck the wonder out of everyday life. Yet, Ted Goodden says, stained
glass, his artistic medium of choice, can also trap glory. "We
see things by light, but we don't see light itself, however, stained
glass can trap the light and break it up."
Ted Goodden uses both collage and stained glass to illuminate Gert's
somewhat circular journey. He is quick to point out that the collages
are not simply studies, they are works of art in their own right.
Although Glory Boy is marketed as a children's book, Ted Goodden
has successfully created a book that appeals to all ages. This is
the simple tale of a boy who gets so caught up in
activity, that he loses his sense of wonder and appreciation, like
collectors sometimes do.
(words by Beth Stewart)