Maia (Teresa) Wojciechowska Introduction - Essay

Introduction

Maia (Teresa) Wojciechowska 1927–

Polish-born novelist, biographer, poet, and translator.

Wojciechowska won the Newbery Medal in 1965 for Shadow of a Bull, which, according to the awards committee, "epitomizes all humanity's struggle for conquest of fear and knowledge of self." The novel, set in Spain, relates a boy's agonizing decision not to follow his famous father as a bullfighter, but to establish his own identity. The need to become one's true self and to refuse to accept an identity based on others' expectations is a recurring theme in Wojciechowska's fiction. Her protagonists strive to find courage within themselves to confront and resolve problems that are usually the result of family or societal pressures.

While some critics complain of a didactic prose style that leads to contrived resolutions, most praise Wojciechowska's presentation of the struggle to assert oneself. Both Shadow of a Bull and Till the Break of Day, an account of Wojciechowska's adolescent flight during the Nazi invasion of Poland and her later anti-Nazi efforts, are viewed as important works and are strongly recommended for young adults. Although Wojciechowska turned away from young adult fiction in the mid-1970s, she remains an influential figure in young adult literature.

(See also Children's Literature Review, Vol. 1; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 9-12, rev. ed.; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 4; and Something about the Author, Vols. 1, 28.)