E.B White’s Charlotte’s Web is a classic story and even if you haven’t read it, I’m sure you know of the story: a runt pig called Wilbur is saved by human Fern and then spider Charlotte and befriends them while getting along with other farmyard animals. It is a beautiful story about the need to appreciate life and nature. It is a great read for developing children or adults who just need to be reminded of the beauty of the world.
The three distinct characters: Wilbur, Fern, and Charlotte are great as it means you can read the book multiple times throughout your life and identify with a different character. If you’re a child, Wilbur is great. He is unsure of the world and is a baby most of the way through the book. It’s kind of endearing as a child, but the more you grow, it can be a little frustrating. Fern is sure of her beliefs even if no one else understands her, and you get to watch her play her role before going back to her real world away from then there’s Charlotte. She’s an amazing character when you’re a child, but as an adult, it’s easy to feel sorry for her. Even the minor characters were interesting, but the main three had a charming feel that stole the show.
The writing reminds me of an idle afternoon as a child. It has a calming effect most of the time, with little spurts of danger that encourages you to keep reading to find out what will happen. What I am most impressed with, however, is the educational aspect. There’s a lot of information about spiders and quite a few more complex words. They are explained in a pleasant way that doesn’t appear too condescending. It would encourage a lot of children and even adults to learn more about the world as well as the complex language.
Surprisingly, the theme and messages are woven throughout the book delicately and don’t feel too forced. Instead, it just brings a lightness to the situation and encourages us to appreciate every aspect of life, even if it’s cow manure. Friendships are an important aspect of life, and even though it can be difficult, it brings a great joy to life.
I can’t believe I’m writing this, but there’s one aspect of the book that annoys me: the flies. I want you to hear me out. The whole plot of the book is to save Wilbur’s live so he isn’t eaten, right? The whole theme of the friendship between Charlotte and Wilbur (and even Templeton) is that you shouldn’t be prejudice to someone because they live a different way, right? Well, what about the flies? I understand that it is a part of Charlotte’s nature, but it goes against the rest of the book which is saying how life is important. I just don’t get that bit.
Even though I did not read this as a child, I recommend every child and child at heart to take this book and give it a read. It will help with a sense of wonder about the world with delightful characters and a decent story. 8.2/10.
Question: What was your favourite book as a child?