The Journal of J.G. Kemp

Evergreen Isle as a “Celtic Quest Story”

One of my primary motives in writing The Journals of Evergreen Isle series is to give middle-grade science and language-arts teachers a work of educational fiction to use in cross-curricular or integrated lessons.

Well, if you are a science teacher, teaching a lesson on skepticism, or the history of the telescope, you can use The Journals of Evergreen Isle.  Or, if you are a language arts teacher, teaching a unit about myth, or the hero’s journey, you can also use The Journals of Evergreen Isle.  Here’s an idea…

Have students compare and contrast Mary Andromeda and the Amazing Eye with the Celtic quest story.

“What is a Celtic quest story?” you may ask.  Well, I was reading the notes at the end of Mary Stewart’s book The Hollow Hills, book two in her (fantastic!) Arthurian Saga, and I read her wonderful description of the formula for the ancient Celtic quest story (which she relates to both the Holy Grail myth and the Sword in the Stone incident), and which certainly falls in line with the archetypal hero’s journey.  Here is a paraphrase of her words:

In the Celtic “quest” story, there is usually an unknown youth, brought up in the wild, and ignorant of her parentage.  She leaves home in search of her identity and comes across a Waste Land ruled by a weakened king.  There is a castle, usually on an island, which the youth reaches by boat, a boat which often belongs to the weakened king.  The castle on the island is owned by a king of the Otherworld, and there the youth finds the object of her quest.  At the end of the quest, she returns, bringing peace and prosperity to the Waste Land.

Of course, we don’t know yet how the entire story of The Journals of Evergreen Isle ends, but I think students will enjoy discussing the similarities and differences between the Celtic quest story and Mary Andromeda and the Amazing Eye.

-J.G. Kemp

Don’t have it already?  Get Mary Andromeda and the Amazing Eye in print, or on iBooks.