I was listening to NPR recently and heard that a favorite childhood classic, Charlotte’s Web, is celebrating its 60th birthday this month. In “The New York Times” from October 19th, 1952, Charlotte’s Web was reviewed by Eudora Welty, who said, “The book has liveliness and felicity, tenderness and unexpectedness, grace and humor and praise of life, and the good backbone of succinctness that only the most highly imaginative stories seem to grow.” She continued to describe some of the main characters in the book and closed the book review by saying, “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.”
I have warm, fuzzy feelings about this book. My second grade teacher read it to our class. I loved the magic of the fair, riding the ferris wheel and round, fat Templeton crawling home after a night of good eating. I liked the idea of rooting for the underdog Wilbur, the runt that no one wanted except Fern. And of course, Charlotte, with her descriptive words for Wilbur’s personality. I remember having to do a word description project for myself and a friend in my second grade classroom. “Some Pig” and “Crunchy” would not work for a person. I was an avid library visitor, but this was a book I NEEDED to own. On Christmas, I remember unwrapping a copy of this book from my grandparents and in my Gram’s neat cursive on the inside cover it says, “Merry Christmas! Love, Gram and Pop (1988)”. My grandparents have since passed away, but this book is in a special place on my bookshelf in my living room.
According to “Publishers Weekly”, Charlotte’s Web is the best-selling paperback for children of all time. As this book celebrates its 60th birthday, I think it is time for me–and maybe you, too–to re-read this classic book.
WHITE, E.B. Original Date: 1952
A little girl who can talk with animals is devoted to Wilbur, the foolishly smug pig, and Charlotte, the beautiful gray spider who works to save Wilbur’s life. A sensitive story for children of all ages as well as adults. Newbery Honor book 1953.
Charlotte’s Web is available in Braille, audio cassette, digital download (BARD), digital cartridge and large print.
BR 01318, BR 09405, BR 17770, BT 03247
DX 46839, DB 46839
RC 07107, RC 46839
For a link to the story on NPR “Some Pig! Charlotte’s Web Turns 60” go to: http://www.npr.org/2012/10/15/162735079/some-book-charlottes-web-turns-60?sc=fb&cc=nprbooks&device=iphone#commentBlock
Cited, NY Times article “Along Came a Spider” (book review of Charlotte’s Web): http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/11/22/specials/welty-charlotte.html
Cited, My Library of Congress, Exhibition, “Books that Shaped America, 1950 – 2000: http://myloc.gov/Exhibitions/books-that-shaped-america/1950-2000/ExhibitObjects/Charlottes-Web.aspx