*originally published on 04/12/2016
THE STORY OF CHARLOTTE’S WEB: E.B. WHITE’S ECCENTRIC LIFE IN NATURE AND THE BIRTH OF AN AMERICAN CLASSIC Written by Michael Sims
2011, 307 Pages (Walker Books)
Genre: biography, author, writing, history, books
This is a biography of how E.B. White came to write Charlotte’s Web and become a great writer of children’s fiction. Sims starts this book with a brief biography of White – he was the youngest of the White children and due to being a late in life child he spent some time on his own. He loved nature, animals and being outdoor even though he had allergies to all three. He began writing at a young age and even being published in children’s magazine he read. After college he finds himself at the New Yorker and starts to write essays. Many of his essays, poetry and prose were about nature and animals. One day he can’t stop thinking about a mouse and his adventures…his name is Stuart…and he’s not a mouse but a child that was very small and looked like a mouse. His first novel, Stuart Little, does well but White waits awhile to work on his final manuscript for Charlotte’s Web.
Being around animals as a child he had stories of animals in his head – one was a pig and another a spider. He soon thought about a pig being up for slaughtering and how could he rescue him. And so he researches, writes and send his manuscript to his editor.
To be completely honest, I put a hold on this book at the library simply because it had Charlotte’s Web in the title. I had no expectations and sat down on Monday morning and found myself in for a treat. The biography portion of the novel is mostly focused on his youth and his time at the New Yorker. If you are looking for a biography on E.B. White I would recommend trying another book. There are some points in his life that are glossed over in this book, but it makes sense for this look at how he became a children’s author. I didn’t know anything about E.B. White so this has whetted my curiosity to learn more. This book also increases your TO BE READ pile as I didn’t know White also wrote essays. AND, his wife was a great editor and also wrote essays. Her life is very interesting so now I want to read more about her and what she has written. BUT the best part of this book is the story of how White comes to write Charlotte’s Web. Sims does a great job in bringing that all to life.
I highly recommend this book to fans of Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White, writers and a small history of the New Yorker.