Sunday, April 26, 2015

Revisiting Charlotte's Web

Charlotte's Web. E.B. White. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1952. HarperCollins. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 "Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.
"Out to the hoghouse," replied Mrs. Arable. "Some pigs were born last night."
"I don't see why he needs an ax," continued Fern, who was only eight.

 I love rereading Charlotte's Web. I do. It's not one I reread often, it is a sad book after all. Though bittersweet may be the better word for it. It's a beautifully written book with memorable characters and scenes. I love Wilbur, the runt pig who turns out to be some pig after all. I love Charlotte, the spider who sees Wilbur's loneliness and becomes the best friend a pig could ever have. I love, love, love Charlotte in fact. I love her wisdom and insight; I love her fierce determination. If I didn't love Charlotte so very, very much, the book wouldn't be nearly as touching. I like the other farm creatures as well--even Templeton--though none as much as Charlotte and Wilbur. I also love Fern who faithfully visits the nearby farm every day just to watch Wilbur. She has a 'true' understanding of things.

Quotes:
Mr. Zuckerman had the best swing in the county. It was a single long piece of heavy rope tied to the beam over the north doorway. At the bottom end of the rope was a fat knot to sit on. It was arranged so that you could swing without being pushed. You climbed a ladder to the hayloft. Then, holding the rope, you stood at the edge and looked down, and were scared and dizzy. Then you straddled the knot, so that it acted as a seat. Then you got up all your nerve, took a deep breath, and jumped. For a second you seemed to be falling to the barn floor far below, but then suddenly the rope would begin to catch you, and you would sail through the barn door going a mile a minute, with the wind whistling in your eyes and ears and hair. Then you would zoom upward into the sky, and look up at the clouds, and the rope would twist and you would twist and turn with the rope. Then you would drop down, down, down out of the sky and come sailing back into the barn almost into the hayloft, then sail out again (not quite so far this time), then in again (not quite so high), then out again, then in again, then out, then in; and then you'd jump off and fall down and let somebody else try it. Mothers for miles around worried about Zuckerman's swing. They feared some child would fall off. But no child ever did. Children almost always hang onto things tighter than their parents think they will. (68-9)

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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