Tag Archives: Charlotte’s Web
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Sometimes it’s good to go back and revisit some of the classics from the annals of children’s literature. Everyone knows Charlotte’s Web. I grew up with the animated movie with the pig who excels at both whining and singing. Then they made the live-action version with Dakota Fanning, which I never saw and don’t plan to see. But recently my son and I went back to the original book, published over 60 years ago. Not every children’s book has the kind of staying power that Charlotte’s Web has. Heck, I even considered Charlotte as a name if I had a daughter. Even E.B. White’s other novels are notably less known, though Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan are well-loved, neither has captured the hearts of children quite like Charlotte’s Web. Interesting side note: the “White” in Strunk and White’s Elements of Style is E.B. White. Thanks, Wikipedia!
As you know, this book tells the story of a girl named Fern who saves a runt pig from the chopping block. She names him Wilbur and keeps him as a pet until he is sold to the Zuckermans. As Wilbur begins adjusting to life in the barnyard he makes a number of friends but none as remarkable as Charlotte, a clever little spider who lives in his barn. Her incredible ornate webs, celebrating the singularity of the pig, help to spare him once more from slaughter. As he grows older he befriends the sheep and geese and even, to an extent the greedy little rat Templeton (who happens to be my favorite character).
Filled with hope, magic, and of course sadness, they just don’t make children’s books like this anymore. There are thousands of children’s books out there and more being released all the time but it’s great to go back and rediscover the gems of generations past. This one should definitely be on your bedtime stories list.
Post by Josh Zinn.
Recently, whilst trolling through the myriad cable channels available to me, I happened upon one of the hallmark films of my childhood, the 1973 animated version of E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. While I am apt, in my adult life, to quote from this film more times than I usually care to admit (“It says CRUNCHY”) it had been some time since I had actually WATCHED the gentle little saga of a frightened pig named Wilbur and Charlotte, the spider whose life becomes dedicated to preserving the safety of her friend.
Anticipating clichéd retro delight in being able to relive memories of the gluttonous rat, Templeton, as well as rousing karaoke renditions of “Zuckerman’s Famous Pig,” I was caught unaware in my realization as to how much Charlotte’s Web had informed my childhood self about the then very-adult ideas of kindness, loss, and mortality. Granted, there’s plenty of sweet-natured humor and a healthy smattering of vocabulary words (“radiant,” “humble,” and “Smorgasbord” were all knowingly dropped into many of my youthful conversations), but beneath the film’s pork-pink exterior beats the heart of something far greater. More than merely a cartoon, Wilbur’s tale presents parents and children with an opportunity to understand and discuss the machinations of their world and the importance of staying true to themselves in spite of oppositions they may face. It’s heady stuff, no doubt, but crafted in such a way that the film never talks down to kids, but rather, with care and respect.
While it may be true that, as a child, I was as equally enamored with Scooby Doo meeting Sonny and Cher (what a great episode! Zoinks!) as I was with Charlotte’s Web, the impact Wilbur’s story had upon my life far exceeds that explosive alignment of the stars. Sure, the beat may go on, but in the end, there’s no denying that is some pig.