I’m reading Charlotte’s Web to my six year old daughter, and I am absolutely stunned by how beautiful this book is. It is poetry from start to finish.
In case you forgot, here’s the first line:
“Where’s Papa going with that ax?”
Here are the last two lines, impossible for me to read without getting chills:
It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a writer. Charlotte was both.
This book is a literary feast. Not only is it about a writer and writing, but the language and word play throughout are Shakespearean. Charlotte’s Web is full of reversals and symmetry, perhaps the most moving (and central) one is that we spend the book worrying about Wilbur’s violent death and at the end, it is Charlotte who dies peacefully.
Speaking of death, Charlotte’s Web tackles this scary and complicated reality in an authentic, touching way, that kids can understand without getting freaked out. That is, when reading Charlotte’s Web, kids experience their emotions about death in a safe way.
And of course, the book features two of the best female characters in kidlit: Charlotte and Fern.
Somehow, I missed reading this book to my older daughter. If you haven’t read it recently, you’ve got pick it up. It will make your day. My sister who is an English professor lent me an amazing edition called The Annotated Charlotte’s Web (pictured above) that is full of footnotes, letters from E.B. White, Hamlet analogies, and notes about Garth Williams, the illustrator, as well. It’s fascinating to read.
Reel Girl rates Charlotte’s Web ***HHH***