When I found out that our first grader was reading Charlotte’s Web in class, and was actually a chapter or two ahead of where we happened to be in the book at home, I kept my kids up late for a few nights to make sure that I was the first person to get them to the final chapter. I’m happy to say that they loved it as much as I did and that another generation of E.B White fans has been born. While I can be a little prickly about my favorite classics getting ruined by Hollywood, we actually found the 1973 animated (and musical?!) Charlotte’s Web to be pretty true to the book.
I actually loved The Story of Charlotte’s Web: E. B. White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic. It’s interesting in this current telecommuting generation to learn how how White and his wife, Katharine Angell White, managed their work for The New Yorker from the rural Maine farm that provided the inspiration for the story of Charlotte, Wilbur and their friends. Also fascinating was White’s original choice for the final chapter name. Let’s just say that the published choice of “Last Day” was a much better one, and thank goodness for editors.