BENNINGTON >> Former Bennington College President Karen Gross visited the Molly Stark School on Monday to read her new book, "Lady Lucy's Quest," to students.
Gross spoke to students in grades two through five about the book, which she says offers many layers of meaning, depending on the age of the audience. "One of the gifts of this book," she said, "is that it can go all across the education spectrum, from early childhood to adulthood."
Gross asked students to try to figure out some of the themes of her book, which tells the story of Lady Lucy, a young girl who wants to become a knight, and devises clever ways to complete the challenges set before her by the other knights, who think that girls could not possibly join their ranks.
"You should give them same rights to women as you should to men!" said one fourth-grader emphatically, which drew a round of applause from his teachers.
For the climactic moment of the story, when Lucy, as her final task, is asked to stand in front of the town and describe the bravest thing she has ever done, Gross invited a student to come up and give Lucy's response: "I tried to become a knight."
Gross described her book as centering on "the power of the possible." She said her character was named after Lady Lucy Duff-Gordon, a British fashion designer and survivor of the sinking of the Titanic, whom Gross said didn't get credit for her many accomplishments in that field while she was alive.
Gross told students that she had been inspired to write the book because of her son, who is now an adult. "My son said, 'She's unusual. Other mothers aren't doing the type of work she's doing.'" She felt her son needed a book which showed that everyone is different, and that anyone can achieve anything if they set their mind to it.
Gross was the president of Southern Vermont College from 2006-2014, when she left to pursue a career of educational consulting in Washington D.C. She is currently a senior counsel to Widmeyer Communications, where she provides educational consulting services. Gross also writes regularly for a variety of publications including Huffington Post, the Washington Post, the Hechinger Report, InsideHigherEd, and more.
As part of her tour, Gross spoke to the second, fifth, and sixth grade classes at the Maple Street School in Manchester, and will also be putting on a talk for the public at the Manchester Community Library at 10 a.m. next Wednesday, May 11, to share her book with children ages 4 and older. She will also be speaking before high school students at the Emma Willard School in Troy, New York, of which both of the book's illustrators, Ji Woo Jasmine Shin and So Young Yang, are graduates.
Gross and the two illustrators, now in college, are currently working on a sequel.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.