Caramel’s class has been reading E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. Quite reasonably, they have been pacing their way through the book, but Caramel just could not wait and is already done with the reading. Today he shares his thoughts on this 1952 classic, which received a Newberry Honor in 1953. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.
Sprinkles: So Caramel, tell me about this book.
Caramel: This book is about animals living in a farm. The main character is Wilbur, he is a pig. In the first chapter he is just born, and the farmer is getting ready to kill Wilbur because he is the smallest one in the litter. That’s called a runt. That’s very mean, right?
S: Why do you say that?
C: The pig is born and they should not kill him.
S: I see. I agree. But I am guessing the farmer is thinking more like how things are in nature, where the weakest and the smallest in a litter will not usually survive.
C: Yes, but later in the book Wilbur does grow and get much bigger.
S: So the farmer decides not to kill him after all?
C: Yes, the farmer’s daughter Fern stops him.
S: So tell me more. The book title involves someone named Charlotte. Who is that?
C: She is a spider.
S: Is she Wilbur’s friend?
C: Yes, she becomes Wilbur’s friend when he moves into the Zuckerman barn. Zuckerman is Fern’s uncle but he is not very nice. Zucker means sugar in German, you told me, but this Zuckerman is not very sweet.
S: I see. Maybe that is why the author chose that name. But why is the book titled Charlotte’s Web if the main character is the pig?
C: Charlotte does save Wilbur’s life multiple times, and she is very important to him. They are best friends and Wilbur learns a lot from her.
S: As you know, I did not grow up in this country, and so this book was not on my reading list at school. When I learned about it, I was already an adult. But I also learned that the book was rather sad, so I never read it.
C: That’s an understatement. It is really really sad.
S: Okay, I won’t ask you why it is sad because I think I actually know. But I also know that you don’t usually like sad books. Did you like Charlotte’s Web?
C: Yes! It might be the only sad book I actually liked.
S: Oh? Why did you like it?
C: The story is really interesting, and I liked Wilbur. He is funny and very likeable. And I also liked Charlotte. She is wise and also very nice.
S: I know you like fiction involving animal characters. You already reviewed a whole lot of them, like Poppy about a mouse and her adventures, The Mouse and the Motorcycle about another mouse and his adventures, and Verdi about a snake. Do Wilbur and Charlotte have some interesting adventures too?
C: Oh yes! They go to the fair, and Charlotte makes an egg sack at the fair. She puts a lot of eggs in it. Let me check. 514 spider eggs.
S: That is a lot of eggs! So the book is fun and joyful to read except the sad parts?
S: So which three words would you use to describe the book?
C: Sweet, happy and sad. Because it is really sweet and happy until it is sad. But then it is happy again, sort of.
S: Hmm, maybe I should read it after all. Would you recommend it?
C: Yep. But you will have to wait for Marshmallow to finish it first.
S: Hmm, I see I have competition. Okay, I guess I will wait. But at least now, after all these years, I know I should read Charlotte’s Web. In the meantime, let us wrap up our review. What do you want to tell our readers?
C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!