The book, “Charlotte’s Web,” – the beloved children’s classic detailing how a pig bound for slaughter was saved by the witty words in a spider’s web – is actually a really dark piece of literature.
That’s the conclusion a book club consisting of grown-ups reading kids books came to at last month’s meeting in July.
The group meets again tonight at The Book Shelf in Eagle River to discuss its August selection, “A Wrinkle in Time.”
New members are always welcome, Cindy Montgomery, owner of The Book Shelf, said.
Most of the time, Montgomery has plenty of copies of the monthly selection in stock.
Her hosting of the book club of adults reading children’s literature is part of a national trend being documented in the past year in which leading literary journals such as The Atlantic and Book Riot are analyzing why adult readers are turning to kiddo titles for their pleasure reading.
Turns out the members of the Eagle River-based club are typical of the national trend: They like kid’s books; they want a book they can skim through fairly quickly; they want a break from adult life.
“It is an opportunity to re-read something from my childhood and take a second look at it,” Paulette Cockreham said. She is one of the club’s steady members – she is also a self-confessed bibliophile who readily admits she cruises online yard sales looking for used book shelves for the hoard of books she has at her home. “I often find I have a much different perspective on the book having read it as an adult.”
In the case of “Charlotte’s Web,” the adult version of Cockreham viewed the desire by Fern Arable, leading human character whom cared for the Wilbur the pig who was the runt of his litter, to hang out with Henry Fussy at the fair’s amusement park versus watching Wilbur receive his award as a selfish move.
“This was his big moment and instead she would rather be off with some boy that she probably never got serious about anyway,” Cockreham said.
For Sarah Dutton, also of Eagle River, just finishing the E.B. White novel was a matter of dedication to the group.
She found Wilbur’s continual worries about his own plight annoying.
“He was always whining,” Dutton said. “Whine, whine, whine. I only finished reading it because of this group.”
Tonight’s discussion focuses on yet another children’s classic that isn’t exactly warm and fuzzy.
In the book, “A Wrinkle in Time,” a brother and sister duo are aided by a neighbor boy to travel through space and time to rescue their father who is being held captive by an evil force the book identifies as, “IT.”
The book addresses the balance of evil versus good via science fiction fantasy and was one of the first successful uses of a female protagonist in that genre in the early 1960 when girls just didn’t take the lead role in that style of book.
It won several prestigious literary awards, has been presented in play format over and over again and even made in to kid’s Disney movie. Yet, its themes of conformity and re-thinking the status quo are ones perhaps better received by adults, Montgomery thinks, versus the emerging minds of children.
“Being able to read these children’s novels again as an adult is a real treat,” she said. “And it is a welcome diversion from real life.”
The Children’s Literature Book Club meets tonight at 7 p.m. at The Book Shelf located at 11401 Old Glenn Highway, Suite 110, in Eagle River.
Reach Amy Armstrong via email at: email@example.com.