Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. Illustrations by Garth Williams.
What can I say about Charlotte's Web that you don't already know? Really. It is a must read for each and every person. If by some chance you never discovered it as a child, you really must read it as an adult. Charlotte's Web is all about the wonder of living. The wonder of life. Seeing the world around you in terrifically radiant ways. Of seeing magic in the small things, the ordinary things. Finding miracles in unexpected places. It captures the beauty of innocence, the heartache of loss, and all the finer points of life in between the two. Wilbur, a spring pig--the runt of the litter--is saved by Fern, a girl who sets out to rid the world of injustice. Fern raises this pig for his first month of life. Bottle-feeding him, caring for him, pampering him. But then it's time for Wilbur to learn to be a pig--to learn about farm life. So he is sold to Uncle Homer. Luckily, the farm is within walking distance and Fern can visit her friend regularly. Wilbur has to make the adjustment to life in the barn. And that adjustment isn't always easy. What Wilbur wants more than anything is a friend--a true friend--but the other animals just aren't interested in providing solace and comfort or entertainment to a pig. Just when Wilbur is at his lowest, he hears a voice whispering soft words of hope and promise. With the dawning of the day, Wilbur learns that his new friend is a spider. What can a spider do for a pig? Well, if that spider is Charlotte--anything and everything imaginable. As the two become friends, as they learn and grow together, Charlotte imparts many words of wisdom to the pig who is innocent, naive, and oh-so-lovable. Charlotte's Web is about life and death and everything in between. It is about the ebb and flow of life. The changing of seasons. An illustration that there is a time and place for everything...things must pass away, must change...because that is the nature of things. Fern can't always be a little girl. She can't always be there for Wilbur. Nor can Charlotte. But some things--like love, friendship, and hope--never pass away. Some things are eternal. It is a beautiful, beautiful story.
I had the pleasure of listening and reading to Charlotte's Web in the past week or so. I first listened to it on audio. It was narrated by E.B. White. It was a special anniversary edition, and I presume that the narration had been restored or put onto cd for the first time most likely. I thought that was very well done. White was especially good at rendering the dialogue of the animals--particularly the gander. There was something so touching, so beautiful about listening to the author read his own book. I know that not every author can be talented in that regards. Sometimes it is better to let professionals do the job, but this one was nicely done.
What can I say about the movie? Well, I loved it. I cried. Who cannot be touched by Charlotte's love and sacrifice? Her devotion, her goodness, her compassionate and wise soul? And Julia Roberts did a great, great job in that role.