Oh what a tangled web we weave

Virginia Yerxa Community Read wraps 10th annual event 

Saturday afternoon, speaker Seth Lerer, professor of literature with UC San Diego, came to the Virginia Yerxa’s Community Read and shared some of his expertise on the subject of children’s literature. After all, he wrote the book on the subject, literally. 

Earlier in the week, families came to the library to hear a story about E.B. White, author of “Charlotte’s Web,” the focus for this year’s Community Read. This 10th annual VYCR celebration also included a hands-on spider lesson with the Explorit Science Center at the Colusa Library and other activities.

Lerer helped to deepen appreciation by delving into the nuances of the author’s work. Chairs were continuously added to Rocco’s Banquet room to accommodate the flow of interested people wanting to partake in Lerer’s speaking engagement. 

Lerer opened with the concept of children’s literature cultivating imagination. He speculated that authors write for children who do not fit in with the mundane understanding of an adult world. 

Lerer used the novella “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry as an example of how an adult will see a picture of a hat, but a child could make out a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. Lerer analyzed what people get out of life, breaking up the ways people perceive things into Intentionalists and Formalists. 

“There are two ways of looking at the world,” Lerer postulated. “We can look at the same thing and see two different things. Are you interested in the intention of the author… or are you interested in what you think?”

Males and females in children’s literature help to prepare youth for their expected roles in life. 

“What you come away with, is the realization that the job of this book is the same,” said Lerer. “That is to teach you to live in the world and to make real the images or metaphors that are in here (Charlotte’s Web).” 

Lerer tied together the metaphors of Charlotte, a “writing spider” with the Latin root word of “text/textile” which had the double meaning as a writer and a weaver, the creative creators. Lerer suggested that the story was E. B. White’s love letter to his wife, editor Joan Marsh. 

After the lecture, Lerer invited attendees to ask questions. The discussions moved to physical books and the art contained within, the importance of libraries, all of which were expertly tied together with the whole of the lecture with a nice, neat bow. 

“What we should all do is go back to the books we loved as children, reread them as adults,” Lerer recommended. 

Coming full circle to his opening remarks of reading with a different perspective, Lerer said, “Being a scholar is being Nancy Drew. It’s solving a puzzle, it’s going on an adventure, it’s figuring out a mystery. And the greatest mystery of all is who we are, and that’s what children’s books will give to you.”

Virginia Yerxa Community Read Day on Saturday also included Charlotte’s Arts Show, which included “Interwoven Stories,” at the Colusa County Arts Council showroom, and fiber artists demonstrating the art of weaving, knitting, and drop-spindle spinning. Zuckerman’s pulled pork sandwiches were served at Rocco’s Bar and Grill, which hosted the weaving event on the patio.  

Friends Around the Block Quilt Shop sponsored the “Some Quilt” competition. Winner will be announced on Saturday. People can still view the quilts and vote on their favorite Charlotte’s Web-inspired quilt. 

Stagehands will wrap up the 2019 Virginia Yerxa Community Read project with an encore presentation of “Charlotte’s Web” on Friday and Saturday at 7:15 PM.