CHARLOTTE'S WEB by E.B. White is a masterful blend of whimsy, humor, gentle satire, and life-and-death drama and, above all, a powerful story of friendship. How sweet it was to share it with my friend, Myra. She could hardly get past the thought of the central characters being a pig, a spider and a rat but as we listened in on their conversations (Did I mention that these animals talked?) we were deeply moved by the loyalty, kindness and wisdom portrayed in this wonderful barnyard fable. Its a children's book which has much offer to adult readers. Complemented by the charming illustrations of Garth Williams, the story starts with an eight year old farm girl, Fern, who rescued a piglet about to be killed because he was the "runt" of the litter, and named him Wilbur. When Wilbur was weaned from the bottle he was sold to Fern's aunt and uncle just down the road where Fern visited him often. It was there that he was befriended by a very wise, loving and skilled spider (...yeah, one of those dreadfully scary, eight-legged, blood sucking creatures!) by the name of Charlotte and several other barnyard animals who could speak both with each other and with Fern. They were all a bunch of characters with distinct personalities and roles but one of the truly marvelous characters was Templeton the rat. Gluttonous, sneaky, often nasty, but curiously sympathetic and helpful, he's one you just hate to love but you can't help it! Templeton is what we call a great anti-hero. But the true heroine is the dear little gray spider, Charlotte who promises Wilbur she will save him from the way that most pigs go. (bacon and ham you know) And, she did, of course!
My favorite lines.....
A moment later a tear came to Wilbur's eye. "Oh, Charlotte, he said. "To think that when I first met you I thought you were cruel and bloodthirsty!" When he recovered from his emotion, he spoke again."Why did you do all this for me?" he asked. "I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you."
"You have been my friend," replied Charlotte."That in itself is a tremendous thing, I wove my web for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die. A spider's life can't help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone can stand a little of that."
"Well." said Wilbur. "I'm no good at making speeches. I haven't got your gift for words. But you have saved me, Charlotte, and I would gladly give my life for you---I really would."
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