This summer while babysitting three of my adorable grandsons, I read the oldest grandson Charlotte’s Web for the first time. He is a bright little guy for 7 years old, who loves Star Wars (he practically has all the movies memorized), action figures, Cars, Planes (both movies) and generally boyish stuff. I had some reservations as to how much he would enjoy the story of Fern, Wilber, and Charlotte, (there being no Jedi Warriors, Luke Skywalkers, or battles with light sabers). What will he think of this old-fashioned tale of barnyard animals, tender affection and lasting friendship?
I needn’t have worried. Even for a tiny 7 year-old Jedi warrior, this classic still strikes a chord. It was a joy to see him (not much of a cuddler) cuddle close and listen attentively to this sweet story. He asked all the right questions and we had a special connection for those precious few days. It is a memory I’ll treasure and I trust he will too.
So it was with delight that I heard about the publication today of Some Writer: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet. You can hear the full broadcast here and I think you’ll find the collage illustrations enticing and enchanting! I’m so happy that E.B. White is getting some well-deserved attention. The enduring nature of Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan and his contributions to other children’s writers make this a wonderful homage to a writer who should have won a Newbery Medal. The year Charlotte’s Web was published it lost the Newbery Medal to The Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark–a book seldom read today. (It did garner a Newbery Honor). In The New York Times, Eudora Welty wrote of Charlotte’s Web, “As a piece of work it is just about perfect, and just about magical in the way it is done”. And the astounding sales (78 million copies) and the book’s translation into 23 languages proves that simple, tender, and old-fashioned stories can still capture the heart of a boy–even a Jedi warrior.