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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Caution: Books Ahead

This article is delightful.

Some books, perhaps, should come equipped with warnings.“Caution: This text could change your life.” “Attention: Reading can be hazardous to entrenched opinions.”Or maybe just a simple, “Warning: Do not try this at home.”

“Dear Mr. Lewis,Closet walls hurt. I'm not sure whether there is any significant difference between the pliability of the back of your wardrobe and the back of my closet, but I can personally attest to the immovability of my closet's walls. I learned this after throwing my 8-year-old body full force against this rigid impediment, hoping that velocity would somehow allow me to break out into Narnia.”

What young Calli Strellnauer failed to appreciate was that she needn't crash into closets to reach Narnia. No, all she had to do was pick up a book and turn the page.It is something the high schooler has done countless times over the decade or so since she first explored that closet full force. But no matter how many pages she's turned, Calli cannot forget the impact author C.S. Lewis had on her young life.

And what does Narnia have to do with the Brontës? Aside from Georgie Henley playing Young Jane Eyre in the new BBC production? Well, that, my friends, will have to wait for another post...

In the five years Montana has been participating in Letters About Literature, they've been responding to J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame, to Montana writer Ben Mikaelsen, to Dr. Seuss and to outdoor-adventure writer Gary Paulsen.

But they've also responded to the likes of Charlotte Bronte, who, were she still living, would have received a letter this spring from Kalispell's McKenzie Javorka, a letter that earned her second place among Montana's seventh- and eighth-graders.

Her parents were going through a rough patch when McKenzie found Bronte, she wrote, and her big sister was heading off to college.

“I found myself alone, anxious and unhappy.”

Then along came “Jane Eyre,” and “as I finally closed the (book) and turned out my light, I felt an emotion I had thought was lost to me forever: peacefulness.”

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