Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Charlotte's Web - E.B. White

Summary:  Wilbur was lovingly raised by a girl named Fern.  But now he's a barn pig.  He's bored and lonely--until he meets Charlotte, the beautiful grey spider who also lives in the barn.

Charlotte thinks of a wonderful way to save Wilbur from a pig's unhappy fate.  Her clever plan will delight you, in this famous story Charlotte's Web.  (Summary from back of the book and image from Amazon.com)

My Review:  Reading to my daughter every night I've tried to stretch her listening attention span and push her past picture books.  This book came to mind, as I hadn't read this book in years.  Seeing as my daughters are deathly afraid of spiders, I was unsure how this book would be received. 

Between painting a picture of an old county fair, to real farm life, to Charlotte's attachment to animals, this book was the perfect fit to expose my daughters to something they have very little schema for.  We'd just gone to the state fair, where they saw all sorts of animals and experiences the raw sights, sounds, smells that accompany farm life.  Therefore, this book was more real to them than if we hadn't had those experiences.  I believe this was the first time my daughters realized where bacon came from, as we had to have a discussion as to why Mr. Zuckerman (the farmer) would want to kill Wilbur.

This book is written so sweetly, so simply, and yet touches on matters that are deep and poignant.  To be loved, to have someone believe the best in you when you may not deserve it or haven't earned that love yet, is an amazing message.  Just ponder on that.  If we had a world where people did this, truly loved before judging, I can't even imagine how much better it would be.  That, all by itself, is the reason this book is a classic.  Charlotte is an unlikely loveable character, being a spider and all.  Wilbur is so simple-minded and unassuming: he is a baby pig.  And yet the story unravels why we need each other, why selflessness is so beautiful, and capitalizes on what we all know deep down: how important it is to love and be loved in return.

I have to say, I believe this is a story everyone should read.  Everyone.

***SPOILER***

One of my favorite moments while reading this book aloud to my girls was a moment that happened about when Charlotte is about to die.  My oldest daughter got all teary-eyed and said, "No!  Not Charlotte!"  I turned to her surprised and said, "But, you hate spiders."  And her reactions was priceless, "Mom," said with that all-knowing 'duh' voice, "it's a book.  Not real life."  Touche, my child, touche. 

For the sensitive reader:  Read away.  Besides an inevitable death--an honest depiction of the cycle of life--this story is as clean as they come.

Rating: 5 Stars--it's a classic for a reason.

Sum it up: A story of friendship, ingenuity, a small town and nostalgic days past.

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