Dine on a 'Royal Banquet of Characters'

By John Nadeau | Jan 19, 2012

Consider the remark by the famous British author C.S. Lewis: “A good children’s book is a good book.”

         “We’ll be looking at classics, not just books published for children but works that have spoken to children and adults for decades and even centuries,” says Dr. Ellen Kester, adding, “Good literature doesn’t have a time line.”

         She notes that a masterpiece like “Alice in Wonderland” affects readers in different ways at different stages in their lives.

         “Because of our life experiences, we adults can infer far more than children can,” she says. “A child may grasp 20 percent of Carroll’s meaning, an adolescent 50 percent, and an adult 100 percent.”

Her course, sponsored by the Creative Retirement Institute at Edmonds Community College, is Children’s Literature – a Royal Banquet of Characters, Language, Insight, and Imagination.

Classes will meet four Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon from Feb. 8 through Feb. 29.

Among the authors Dr. Kester will discuss are Kenneth Graham, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, and Dr. Seuss.

She believes they are all authors whose genius “takes universals that appeal to all of us and cloaks them in imaginative settings.”

Topics will include those settings, as well as characters, conflicts, suspenseful action, and themes-- ideas that sharpen our awareness of who we are and the challenges we face.

A point she stresses is that so many of these works written for young people show not only intensity of imagination but also a certain spontaneity that appeals to many generations.

“We care about the characters,” she says,” and it’s not much of a leap from those Kenneth Graham created to those Dickens created.”

She allows that there are some major differences between adult and children’s literature, the latter given more to fantasy and often accompanied by marvelous illustrations.

“But the stories all deal with humanity – and human nature,” she says. “So much of our own lives really do live on in children’s literature.”

This course is just one of the many CRI presents each term.

This lifelong learning program, designed mainly for older adults, frequently offers non-credit, college-level courses on topics you may never have heard of or could never imagine.

To be sure, CRI concentrates for the most part on main stream subjects dealing with history, music and art, fiction and non-fiction, science, current events, and so on.

But occasionally CRI is fortunate enough to have an expert like Dr. Kester present a course that is truly creative and just a bit off the beaten path.

You can learn more about this and other CRI offerings by phoning 425-640-1830 or visiting www.edcc.edu/cri.

Classes at the Creative Retirement Institute are open to all adults, regardless of educational background.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.