With Throwback Thursdays, we choose a book we remember fondly and recommend it to our adoring readers, featuring books not currently on the best seller list. I made a list of books I might want to feature on here, and I noticed I kept picking books I want my kids to read, so I think I might focus my Thursdays on kids’ novels or picture books. I’ve talked before about how much I love to read my beloved childhood books to my children. It’s just so fun! We are currently reading Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.
In Charlotte’s Web, Wilbur, a baby pig faces certain death by the ax of Mr. Arable when Fern, his eight-year-old daughter steps in. As the runt of the litter, Wilbur would only cause trouble in the eyes of Mr. Arable, but Fern saves his life and quickly makes him her pet. After spending a few months under the care of Fern, Wilbur must be sold and sent away, so Fern sells Wilbur to her Uncle Homer Zuckerman, who runs a farm down the road. Wilbur moves to Zuckerman’s farm and spends his first days in loneliness, wishing more than anything to find a friend. One day, when all hope seems to be lost, Wilbur hears a small voice who assures him with, “I’ll be your friend.” The kind words come from Charlotte who will become Wilbur’s most loyal and most unlikely of friends.
I love Charlotte’s Web for so many reasons. The story captures the essence of childhood. It paints the realities of life clearly, yet it adds imagination, wonder and the possibility of miracles. The language is simple and beautiful and made to be read aloud. My kids and I listened to part of this book on CD with E.B. White narrating. (Alas, some of the CDs had scratches, so I checked out the book to finish reading it to them myself.) If you can get a copy of the audio version, you really should hear it. E.B. White takes his time with the language, and it rolls effortlessly from his voice. It’s so great.
My kids love the different characters and their crazy voices. They especially love the goose who constantly repeats herself with phrases like, “Probably -abably” “Appromimately-oximately” and “dirty-little dirty-little dirty-little yard.”
My husband loves the gander because of this conversation with Charlotte:
Charlotte, “Does anybody here know how to spell ‘terrific’?”
“I think,” said the gander, “it’s tee double ee double rr double rr double eye double ff double eye double see see see see see.”
I even love Templeton, who may not be likable, but is certainly true to himself: “I am a glutton, but no merrymaker.”
Please share this wonderful book with the children in your life. If you’ve never read it, go get a copy and rekindle the magic of childhood. It’s delicious.
The back cover captures it best:
“What the book is about is friendship on earth, affection and protection, adventure and miracle, life and death, trust and treachery, pleasure and pain, and the passing of time. As a piece of work it is just about perfect, and just about magical in the way it is done.” – Eudora Welty, The New York Times Book Review.