Can a nearly septuagenarian woman be moved to getting a lump in her throat and a few tears in her eyes by re-reading E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web? Assuredly, yes.
I re-read Charlotte’s Web today as part of a book challenge; the assignment was read a book released the year that we were born. This classic is a favorite memory from more than thirty-five years ago, my two sons cuddled either side of me on our loveseat. All three of use reveled in White’s sweet yet unflinching world. Just hearing those two words, “Charlotte’s” and “web,” resurrect loving feelings and a spring of emotion to well in my heart. This was an easy choice for the challenge. The question was would it be as impactful now as it was then?
White’s story obviously is to be enjoyed as a children’s tale, but also can be read as an allegory for how people of different characteristics find ways to get along. Charlotte’s Web is told with heart, love, emotion, and humor, with some tension and suspense, and is in addition a lovely way to teach children about the circle of life. As Charlotte says, “After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little, we die.”
Far from depressing, Charlotte and her friends, animal and human, illustrate how we use the time we are allotted is what makes life worthwhile.
Garth Williams lovely pen and ink illustrations enhance the story.
This classic should be read and re-read over the course of one’s lifetime. Its gentle tone soothes the soul and offers hope and comfort. We can all use a little of that. An American treasure.