Thursday, November 24, 2011

Review: Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Publisher: Harper Collins
b May 15, 1974
Pages: 184
Received: Own it (reread)

This is the story of a little girl named Fern who love a little pig named Wilbur - and of Wilbur's dear friend Charlotte A. Cavatica, a beautiful large grey spider who lived with Wilbur in the barn. With the help of Templeton, the rat who never did anything for anybody unless there was something in if for him, and by a wonderfully clever plan of her own, Charlotte save the life of Wilbur, who by this time had grown up to be quite a pig.

I started reading this as part of a rereadathon on this past weekend. I actually don't really remember this book at all, but I must have read it as a child, right? I remember bits from the movie version, but there was so much that I didn't remember at all. 

The biggest thing that I actually got from this book is the true meaning of friendship. Charlotte befriends Wilbur and gives wholly of herself even when she has things she needs to be attending of her own. She shows the true meaning of friendship when she goes out of her way to save Wilbur's life. 

What a creative little spider she is, weaving words into her web to bring attention to Wilbur's great qualities. My favourite word is when she uses humble and she describes it as meaning - '"Humble has two meanings. It means "not proud" and it means "near the ground." That's Wilbur all over. He's not proud and he's near the ground.' (pg. 140)
Humble (adjective)
1. not proud or arrogant, modest
2. low in rank, importance, status
3. courteously respectful
4. low in height, small in size
I can also see it showing the difference between being a good friend and being a friend only when it's convenient for you. Charlotte always puts her friendship with Wilbur first and Templeton only puts his friendship first when it will benefit him in someway. Such a good listen for children to learn.

There is a lovely passage in the book about the changing of the seasons and how summer is coming to an end. "Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year - the days when summer is changing into fall - the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change." The descriptions that E.B. White writes about the changing of the seasons is beautiful and almost poetic. 

The last topic that I noted was about loss. The feeling of losing a friend and the feeling of loss due to death. As Fern ages during the summer, she slowly begins to spend less and less time with Wilbur and more and more time with boys. It was a little sad to see this change, but it is inevitable that as children grow their interests change dramatically. And then there is Charlotte, who feels her time coming, tries to explain it to Wilbur that it's just her time to pass on. What a hard topic for children to read about, but E.B White makes this a more manageable topic as he ties it to the knowledge that Charlotte leaves behind an egg sack filled with her little babies who will be the next generation of her kind, friends for Wilbur and that the circle of life is fulfilled. What a great learning experience.

All in all I thought this book teaches children some amazing things and will definitely be keeping my copy around for my future children.

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