Charlotte's Web

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Charlotte's Web was on the New York Times shortlist from which they asked their readers to pick "the best book of the past 125 years". Since I hadn't read it, I put it on the TBR list. So: one more down, twelve to go!

I know: it's a kid's book. And it's very short. But it (nevertheless) counts as part of my 2022 reading! What can a 70-year-old man say about it?

Well, it's charming, of course. And E. B. White's elements of style shine throughout. Despite the title, it's the story of the pig, Wilbur. He is inauspiciously born as the runt of his mama's litter, which would usually doom him to a very short life. But young Fern implores her father to spare him, and Wilbur gets pampered instead. Shuffled off to another farm, Wilbur gets tossed in with a menangerie of beasts in a barnyard: a rat, some sheep, a goose, and (ah, there she is) a large spider named Charlotte. And they all talk to each other. (I assume this book is often read aloud, with the reader performing each voice appropriately.)

Wilbur thrives. Too well for his own good, unfortunately: his new owner has ham and bacon plans for him. Can Charlotte save him? Spoiler: yes.

Even though I hadn't read the book previously, we'd taken my kids to a play based on the book, so I kind of knew about (another spoiler) Charlotte's somewhat sad fate.

Death is an overriding theme here. So here is my 70-year-old man observation: Charlotte kills and eats a lot of flies, but they don't talk. It would have been interesting if E. B. had put that in. "Rats! I'm stuck in this web thing!… Oh, no, here comes a monstrous spider! She's wrapping me up! Save meeee…"

Last Modified 2022-02-15 7:57 AM EDT