Morning Meanderings…. Donna from Writer Side UP! talks about “The Web”

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Kid’s Books Are Not Just For Kids

Charlotte’s Web:
A children’s book for “kids” of all ages, as are so many books in the KidLit world. 🙂

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Hi everyone!  It’s me, Donna from Writer’s Side Up!  Having borrowed Charlotte’s Web from our local library, the only time I read it was nearly 5 decades ago. Yes, that long! I was a young child. I remember enjoying it and whenever I heard mention of it, a warm spot lit in my heart even though, as time marched on, the details of the story had withered away like an unattended web. Only a few vague images remained, the few “strings” that clung to a barn’s doorway: a girl, a pig, a spider, a web, a fair.

In the years (about 20 now) since I began to actively focus on pursuing children’s literature as an author/illustrator, I’ve heard this classic book referred to many times, as I’m sure you can well imagine! During that time, I’ve also been building my personal library, including some of the classics I hadn’t yet owned, Charlotte’s Web being one of the first I purchased. As you and I are well aware, we book lovers tend to have very long “to be read” lists, whether they are books lining our own shelves or those at bookstores and libraries. For a long time now, Charlotte and Wilbur have been waiting very patiently for me to pay them their due attention. Whenever I’d glance their way, catching a glimpse of their spine, they’d in turn catch my eye—beckoning—knowing I was wistful to revisit them. “I don’t know when, you two, but I will. I will…”

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Then, as Sheila has a tendency to do, she dangles an irresistible carrot in front of my face. Well, no, not a carrot ‘cause I could easily resist one of those. She dangles Dove milk chocolate! Sheila being the kind of person who, if she asks a favor, if at all possible you want to oblige, so it was very easy saying “yes” in her quest for guest bloggers. (Actually, I was shocked and honored! “Yes!” was a no-brainer 😉 ) Now, being the blog pro she is, Sheila suggested a wide array of possible topics and approaches, one of which could relate to a book she had in her impressive archives. I was working my way down her list and Charlotte’s Web was the first to flash neon, but far from the only one. If you haven’t already, take a look at Sheila’s archive and you’ll see what I mean! Oh, my, how to decide…

Considering Sheila had already bewitched me with the reread of the whole Harry Potter series (TOtally enjoying it, by the way!), PLUS participation in her “First Book of 2015” meme, in order for me to read a book and write a guest post before her “bon voyage” Down Under, just as with my “first book” selection, this had to be a short one. That’s what helped tremendously in narrowing down my choice. Now, I can tell you—trust me on this—when I tilted this book out from between the other “ladies in waiting,” it twitched beneath my fingertips. Then, as I lifted it from the shelf, the din that rose from the ruckus within its pages was almost deafening. There was an explosion of oinks, moos, honks and every other barnyard sound that could be mustered. It was as if a plank fell from its fence and all the animals were set free! “I know, I know,” I said, “I’m so sorry it’s taken this long, but now that I’m finally here, I can’t wait to hang with you in the barn again—regardless of the smell of manure.”

 

12I wish I could tell you I recall how I felt as a young child while reading this. Whether I laughed—or cried. Had I consciously recognized the character’s characters and the significance of its theme? I’m sure I did—in a child’s way. Would I have picked up on the overall message about the preciousness of every individual’s life—how each serves a purpose? Would I have taken in the point that you don’t discard something—or someone—because, at first, they don’t seem to serve a purpose? Did I truly understand the miracle as the doctor so clearly explained it, about the ability of a spider to spin a web instinctively? I’m sure I enjoyed the many characters, each so clearly depicted through simple yet perfect description, largely through their actions and dialogue, but did I appreciate their distinct personalities? In reading it now, they were evident right away: Wilbur’s sweet innocence, sensitivity and humble nature, easily wearing his heart on his sleeve; Charlotte’s intellect, wisdom, kindness and selflessness with her innate gift of leadership; Templeton, the rat’s self-serving ways, though he’s not all bad. The idiosyncratic* dialogue of each animal is spot on. The humor throughout the book actually made me chuckle at times, largely through the quick-witted remarks by Charlotte. And the true friendship between Wilbur and Charlotte was tied with heartstrings as strong as her web strings, so much so that I didn’t just choke up, I teared up when the inevitable happened, but especially due to the heartache—and joy—that followed.

 

E. B. White spun a tale so well-constructed, it has caught many a reader in its fine web. 14Having just read this delightful, poignant story—as an adult—I can easily see why it is so well-deserving of its “classic” classification. It is more than a shame that this treasure made its way onto the list of banned books. When Sheila first reviewed this, she mentioned the reasons why. I also recently spoke out about the banning of books. I sincerely hope, although Charlotte’s Web is not available through school libraries, that it is finding its way into children’s hands as it did into mine. And I encourage you, especially if you haven’t read this book since you were a child or possibly haven’t read it at all—to read it now. To read it again. Read it yourself and share it with the children in your life. Share and experience its richness.

With that said, thank you, Sheila, for the honor of being a guest on your esteemed blog. So glad I found you, and I “think” that was by having followed an “It’s Monday” trail 🙂

* “Idiosyncratic” was one of several “big” words used in this book, never talking down to kids or being overly cautious about levels of vocabulary.

 

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About Sheila (Book Journey)

Bookaholic * Audio Book Fan *Bike Rider *Rollerblader *Adventure Seeker *Runner*Coffee lover *Fitness Fan * Movie junkie

Posted on January 15, 2015, in Meanderings and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.

  1. I have always wanted to read this book, but for some reason, I’ve never even gotten around to buying it. I remember loving the movie as a kid, and fell in love with both characters. Thank you for reminding me that I really do need to read this.

    • Ryan, it’s an easy, quick read, certainly in comparison to adult novels. It’s lighter reading so whether you buy it or borrow it, if it’s around, when you’re looking for something like that, it’s perfect! 🙂

  2. I don’t know why I haven’t yet read this one, but I did read and love Alice in Wonderland as a child, so when it called to me a few years ago, I reread it and loved it again. There is definitely something about the images, the dialogue, the unforgettable best lines….all of which you recalled from Charlotte’s Web.

    Thanks for sharing, and I loved the way you took us through your journey, Donna!

    • I’m so glad you liked it, Laurel 🙂 This book is so enjoyable and actually easy to fit in. I hope you get to read it! I actually have “Alice” here, started to read it and for some reason didn’t push to finish. I hope I get back to it! 🙂

  3. I read this for the first time as an adult and really enjoyed it. My list of books to read each year is top heavy with middle grade books. WHY? Because as a writer of MG, I like to see what’s out there and more importantly, they are much better written than many adult books. Not convinced? Think of how many adult books you read that take forever to “get to the point”. We plow through them because we’re patient and know we’ll eventually be rewarded. But, a kid won’t tolerate wasting time to get to the meat of a story, so the best MG books catch us from the beginning and don’t let go. Much like Fern who wonders what her father is doing with that ax…

    • Darlene!!! 🙂 SO glad you took the time to comment here 🙂 As you know, Kidlit is my world, too, and you make SUCH a good point. I much prefer it to adult angst and subject matter as far as reading. And you would know this because there’s no way I’m not going to mention your book WHEELS OF CHANGE. I love it SO much and if Sheila had it in her archives, I would’ve reviewed THAT! lol

      To me, Kidlit is where it’s at! 🙂 And for sure, I’m not “ashamed” to prefer it. I’m proud, as I know you are 😀

  4. What a wonderful post, Donna. Love your story.

    Sheila had another brilliant idea with these guests posts. I have met people I haven’t met before through them.

    I LOVE Charlotte’s Web.

  5. Pop in of the day 🙂 I read this book as an adult for Banned book Week. Its such a great story! We are on our way to New Zealand, this is our second day at sea before we arrive. Looking forward to it!

    • Oh, wow, Sheila…Hobbiton, here you come! 🙂 And I hope you check the post I put on my blog today, to tell people about this post. You don’t want to miss it! And be sure to be donning your red cape 😉 Thanks again for having me here, Sheila. It’s SUCH a treat for me! 🙂

  6. Wonderful post, Donna! I re-read Charlotte’s Web with my son when he was in kindergarten. Such a special book for kids of all ages.

  7. Love this post! Love the way you write:)

    • Thanks so much, pinkim! That’s a treasured compliment for a writer, I can tell you, and another one is you following my blog! I really appreciate it ^^’ I hope you enjoy the content I put up 🙂

  8. Fun review, Donna! Thanks for filling in for Sheila. Charlotte’s Web is a children’s book for “kids” of all ages. It’s a classic. I loved it as a child and still do. Your post reminds me that I should reread it one of these days (hopefully soon). It is the loveliest story.

  9. I love “Charlotte’s Web” and very much enjoy reading it with children It has such a richness and depth of emotions to explore. I have been delighted to see a new illustrated large-format and large print edition out now which will make it accessible (with an adult reading) to even younger children (I am thinking 5+) I enjoyed reading about your recent re-engagement with the book and think it’s great that you have inspired so many others to read it. I popped over to others of Sheila’s pages and like what I have seen. Thank you for the introduction. I can’t believe “Charlotte’s Web” was banned. While we must respect people’s views, if something offends for a particular reason, maybe you just leave it alone. You don’t have to read it if it offends your sensibilities or beliefs. Thanks for sharing a fun post. 🙂
    PS I think Sheila should be pleased with the great job you are doing. 🙂

  10. Great post. Can you believe that I have never read Charlotte’s Web? Crazy. I just bought a nice hardbound version of it though and I must read it soon.

    • I totally believe it, Cynthia. There are SO many books I haven’t read that most people have. This just happened to be one I did read. And when you do read it, I really think you’ll enjoy it! 🙂

  11. The books I read as a child are different today. Many are no longer around. I learned to read with Dick and Jane.

    • Me, too, Betty! Funny thing is, when we learned with “See Jane run,” we didn’t care that it was boring. It didn’t feel boring ’cause we weren’t concentrating on the story—we were concentrating more on the words! lol

      • So much as changed in my lifetime. Ice box, daily milk deliveries, radio, TV, health care. My life expectancy was for 55 years. I remember Pearl Harbor and the changes it brought about. The most important for women is the washer and dryer. Those 2 items free us,from much work.

        • Ah, Betty, you’re probably closer to my parents’ ages when you mention ice boxes. I think of that regularly—the modern conveniences that allow us to have lives and enjoyment beyond having to do household chores. Kitchen appliances, too! Yes, we live in easier times, at least in those respects. Lots today is much more difficult, too : /

  12. You did it, Donna, I’ll have to reread this book myself. It was your description of how fast White distinguishes his characters, including their distinctive dialogue that got me. Nice.
    Oh, and loved seeing your face at the top : )

    • Cynthia, I am truly complimented that I got you wanting to reread that book 🙂 You WILL be impressed, certainly as a writer. I know I was! And, thanks, but oh, how I hate having pics taken of me. It’s so hard to get a decent one anymore lol

  13. Wonderful post, Donna! It makes me want to reread this classic. Mission accomplished. 😉

  14. stanleyandkatrina

    What a lovely blog this is. I am happy I hopped over.

    It has been a few years since we have read this. It was always one of my mother’s favorite’s and I remember quite clearly, as a child, seeing the cartoon movie and realizing that Charlotte wasn’t going to come home and what it REALLY meant. DD and I read this together back a few years because we were going to see the musical. She LOVED the big words in it and since then her best friend has actually played Wilbur in the play so the book/story is dear to our heart. So much great stuff in that book, and you are right about the vocabulary – it is probably why we like it so much.
    ~Cool Mom
    for the Stanley & Katrina Gang

    • Hey, Christine! I’m so glad you took the time to come over and read. Sheila’s got a GREAT blog 🙂 And it’s nice to hear that Charlotte’s Web is so special for you and Felicia 😀

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