The Hero's Journey

About the Author: Kate Lyon

Sadly Kate passed away on the 30th of July 2007. Her spirit will live on through her books as they continue to help others.

Kate was a parent and a writer with a diverse background. She had been a teacher, a foster parent, a youth worker and a communications facilitator, working with people with diverse learning needs. For many years, she had been a scholar of myth and the mythic structure and had presented papers and given talks in New Zealand, the UK and France on the use of myth in children’s literature. Kate had always been impressed by the way the archetype of the Hero’s Journey was able to reach many people.

We can understand the metaphor of the journey and are able to relate it to our own lives, bringing a deeper understanding of the way we live our lives and relate to others. However, what was lacking was a resource that not only drew on the richness of the Hero’s Journey, and the hero’s quest for a good life but also used metaphors and analogies that incorporated New Zealand knowledge and experience. These books are the result.

The books were written by Kate and illustrated by Kate together with her 17 year old son John, who proved an able critic as the books developed. She also worked closely with friends and neighbourhood community groups and together The Hero’s Journey came to fruition. Kate says, “the books are designed to be shared – by families, by partnerships and by groups who can realise that the hero’s quest is always a shared journey and that we are all heroes.”

Plain Language

Plain language is an excellent tool to ensure concepts reach the target audience as quickly and effectively as possible. Plain language makes effective use of the visual metaphor as an integral part of the text and text written in plain language has been found most effective in including as many people as possible.

For further information see

Book Review

Everyone needs a hero and we all have the capacity to be a hero. Taking the mythological concept of the ‘Hero’ the authors have produced a wonderful series of six colourfully illustrated books covering different aspects of the Hero’s Journey.

Written by New Zealanders, it weaves into the classic mythical story Maori concepts and symbols to make the process relevant to people of all cultures. For me, this is what makes the book special. The plain language of the writing, the rich imagery and symbols makes it easy to understand for both children and young people while still portraying the depth of the ideas. Using a positive strengths based approach, the books takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery. It presents ways of reframing things from negative to positive and skills for dealing with the things in our lives that act as barriers to positive mental health and self esteem.

The six books cover different themes and build on each one but each book can also be a stand-alone resource. The themes covered are:

Book 1: Who Am I? – The people, places and beliefs that are important to us.
Book 2: Matariki – Looking at ourselves in a different and positive way.
Book 3: Puawaitanga – Change, loss and separation, the beginning of the growth process.
Book 4: Piwakawaka – People we meet on the way – silent helpers, guides and tricksters.
Book 5: Taniwha and Hakari – How we can tame the dragon within and become the hero.
Book 6: The Special Place – A safe and special place within our self in times of trouble.

The content complements many topics on the health syllabus and is a great teaching resource that could be used in other curriculum areas at both primary and secondary levels. It can also be a great series of books for parents to read with their children providing many opportunities for sharing and discussion. Adults could also benefit from reading the wisdom in the book.

The Hero’s Journey series fills a gap for appropriate local mental health promotion resources and a class set in every school would be a good investment.

Reviewed by Barry Taylor, Mental Health Promoter

Customer Comments

“I ordered the whole series of these books recently as I work as a school counsellor at Intermediate level and with children in private practice. I fell in love with the books as soon as I read them. The reasons were: the stories and the way they are told, the illustrations, the warmth, the magic, the use of metaphor. I think they have been well done. I will be showing them to others in my field.”

Liz Summerville

” The Hero’s Journey series of books have been a great tool for my daughter and I to connect with each other, our families and our whakapapa. I have been very touched by my daughter’s ability to recite her connectedness with our extended family, and I have been warmed by the fact that she is able to speak of her sense of belonging in this world. I have thoroughly enjoyed sitting and reading with my daughter throughout the books. I would encourage any parent to utilise the Hero’s Journey series with their child or children.”

Cyrus Neilsen, Parent

“ A set of books both wonderfully written and simply illustrated with a huge amount of Aroha. They give us an opportunity to see what wonderful creatures we are and what we have to offer our community when we are helped on our journey. The books promote thoughts and conversation and make the sharing of ideas easier. An invaluable education tool as we can always be reminded of what trust is and what it is to be a friend (plus many other basic subjects) that we sometimes forget in our busy lives.”

Linda Reynolds