Monday, November 15, 2010

Charlotte's Web

Title : Charlotte's Web
Author : E.B.White
Publisher : Scholastic
Age Group : 8+ years
An endearing tale of an unimaginable friendship between two extremely dissimilar creatures - a pig and a tiny spider. Even the idea of witnessing an affectionate relationship between these two is hard to imagine. But W. B. White has beautifully weaved a loving, emotional and sensitive story of a pig who was born a runt and a common wall spider doing an amazingly inimitable task.

The new born pig was destined to be put to rest soon after its birth because of its under-developed body but for a little girl Fern, who argued with her parents and convinced them to allow her to take care of the pig. With the loving care of Fern, the pig grew big enough to be sold to Mr.Homer Zuckerman, who had a big barn and many farm animals and who sometimes raised pigs too. So the deal was finalised in six dollars and Wilbur became a part of the big strange assorted family. Initially he felt sad and lonely in this new place without Fern but surprisingly one day he was invited into a conversation by a spider, who was hanging from her web on the roof of the pigpen. She liked to be called Charlotte. Thus ensued their unique affectionate bond.

It was a known fact in the barn that in coming winters, Wilbur would be killed by Mr. Zuckerman for one of the grand feasts in the house. But as any living individual Wilbur did not want to die and wanted to live life fully but there was nobody who could help him. Nobody?, no infact this is not true. There was one creature in the barn, who sincerely wanted to save Wilbur. Yes, you guessed it right - it was Charlotter, the spider. But spiders are adept in doing just one task - that is of web weaving, so how could weaving a web help save Wilbur's life? Charlotte came up with the most brilliant idea of her life and miraculously this idea not just worked but it worked so wonderfully that Wilbur - who was once an underdeveloped pig, got accolades for his smooth skin, healthy body and Divine hand behind his existence.
Charlotte's work was done, she was nearing her last days now and had just one last job left which she needed to do at the dusk of her life - making an egg sac and filling it with eggs - lots and lots of eggs. When Wilbur came to know about Charlotte's future, he was heart broken and lost all interest in everything but soon composed himself and took up the onus of being a protector and godfather to Charlotte's children and her grandchildren in her absence. This was his way of expressing gratitude for what his dear friend had done for him.

This book offers a huge range of things for the young readers - the true friendship rising above all sorts of hurdles and limitations, the will and determination are indeed the supreme characteristics and subsequently the way has to follow these two obediently, and some things even defy the demarcation of life and death as Wilbur kept taking care of Charlotte's spirit through her descendants. The messages of self-belief and trust, affection and keeping the promise are conveyed beautifully through this heartwarming and moving story. The penultimate chapter is very touching when Charlotte breathed her last, some parents may not feel comfortable with this particular event but I took this as an opportunity to explain life cycles of different creatures and how living every moment of it positively and helping others is the most important part of being alive rather than just adding years to the life.

The story is appropriately peppered with humor through the presence of many other animals in the farm including the greedy and gluttonous rat - Templeton, who had an important role to play in the whole scheme of things.

A perfect tale of a true friendship.

Image Source : Amazon


artnavy said...

This book is on endless queue at the libraray- it is so I know why.

Choxbox said...

Nice review V.

Had a lump in my throat when I first read it.

The other two children’s books by E.B.White are also good - Trumpet of the Swans and Stuart Little (which was made into a popular film). IMO the first two are better than the third.

Vibha said...

Art ~ a 'must read' book IMO
Chox ~ haven't read the other two but have watched the movie - Stuart Little.
Throat in the lump - exactly happened to me and to the two listeners.

sandhya said...

Wonderful book, and an equally wonderful review. A cried when we first read it to her, when she was just 6.

We have much enjoyed the movie too.

Vibha said...

I want to watch the movie too. Will try flipkart for the DVD.

ranjani.sathish said...

What a great book and a wonderful review Vibha. Reminds me of the book "The Underneath" by Kathi Appelt

Sheela said...

Thanks, Vibha, for the lovely detailed review, covering many aspects of the book! Ana was distraught at first and refused to believe Charlotte is "dead". Wilbur, Fern, Charlotte and even Templeton have become such unforgettable characters for her... "Can all spiders really spin web words?" "Charlotte could!"

We had followed it up with the 1973 animated movie version of this book, which has very catchy songs...

Praba Ram said...

My 8 year read it when she was six - the first classic in fact we set our eyes on. Having enjoyed both the book and the movie, the images just came alive reading your review. A warm and soothing review, V.

My girls and I have also enjoyed listening to ordinary miracle on youtube often. One of our favorite songs! Yes, something about strangest of creatures becoming friends. Amazing characterization! A beautiful pick, V.

Vibha said...

Ranjani ~ Thanks. Didn't know about 'The underneath', will look for that.

Sheela, Praba ~ Thanks. Charlotte has become immortal here too. Would really love to watch the animated version too.

utbtkids said...

Have borrowed it from the library Vibha. Will let you know how it goes after we read it.

Vibha said...

utbt ~ please do. Would love to know how you and the kids liked the book.

Meera Sriram said...

We had seen it several times on bookshelves but had never picked it up...until your review came along Vibs! I did a read-aloud to my 6 yr old, and it was so hard for both of us to put it down every time (we kept going back to it whenever we could in weird places at werid times :)Loved every bit! Thanks!

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