On 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 individually.
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.
Prematurely thrust 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.
For 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 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.
(review by Beth Stewart)