Monday, October 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Charlotte's Web!

Today a beloved book celebrates its 60th year in print. Charlotte's Web, the brain child of E.B. (Elwyn Brooks) White who, while working in his Brooklin Maine barn, was so captivated by a gray spider spinning an egg sac, he cut down the sac, placed it in a small candy box, in which he had cut tiny air holes, and took it back into the city with him. Weeks later, the baby spiders escaped through the air holes, making fine webs on his bureau covering his hairbrush and nail scissors. He's reported as saying, "When the spiders left the bureau, they continued to scurry around in my imagination," ultimately providing him with the inspiration for Charlotte A. Cavatica, more fondly referred to as simply, Charlotte.

After completing his first draft of Charlotte's Web, Mr. White followed the advice often given to writers today, and put the book away for a year to incubate. When it was published, noted critic of children's literature critic and former New York librarian, Anne Carroll Moore, stamped his book, "Not Recommend for Purchase by Expert". She believed Fern's character was underdeveloped

Although Ms. Moore was one of the most powerful book reviewers of children's literature for the first half of the 20th century, Charlotte's Web went on to become a best seller, with over 45 million copies sold, and has been translated into over 30 languages. 

Charlotte's Web continues to be a favorite book of mine, so much so that it is also the favorite book of my protagonist. E.B. White's ability to take something from, our ordinary world, and transform it into an object of our affection, inspires me to look for the miraculous in the things we see everyday. 

When asked if the characters from his book were real, he answered, "No, they are imaginary tales... But real life is only one kind of life --- there is also the life of the imagination."

Thank you Mr. White for giving us a life full of imagination. 

If you would like to read more about Mr. White, or Andy to his friends, you can check out Michael Sims book, "The Story of Charlotte's Web: E. B. White's Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic,"  

Or, just grab a copy of your favorite E.B. White classic, your beverage of choice, curl in up in a comfy chair, and take a break from the real world for awhile.

Muse for Today: Do you have an E.B. White favorite?


S.P. Bowers said...

OK, the thought of having baby spiders escaping and living in my dresser and hairbrush is quite disturbing. Still, I'm glad E.B.White found such inspiration from it.

Scribbles From Jenn said...

Hahahaha! I almost put in a bloggers note with the same comment. Had it been up to me, Charlotte's Web would not be here today. Thank goodness for writers like E. B. White.

nutschell said...

I love CHarlotte's Web. I remembering watching the cartoon version when i was younger and crying my heart out.:D

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Not only is that a great book, the story of it proving the famous reviewer wrong is also a great lesson. My children loved the animated movie too.

michelle said...

The thought of creepy-crawlies would have me running for cover... LOL. It's interesting to read what inspires stories... and it's so different from writer to writer...

Sherry Ellis said...

How interesting that a reviewer thought her character was underdeveloped. Charlotte's Web is one of my favorite children's books!

Scribbles From Jenn said...

@ Nutschell, Charlotte's Web is a tear jerker. Great to have a book that touches us all these years later.

@ Susan, it is great to write what your heart tells you to and ignore the critcs. Sometimes, they are wrong :D

@ Michelle,it is odd what inspires writers. Spiders on my desk would have never inspired me.

@ Sherry,I love reading reviews like this. Just goes to show you, critics don't know as much as they think they do.

Elise Fallson said...

I remember C. Web, it made me cry so much. That's all I have to say. :D

Sleep-Deprived said...

Our family loved The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. :)

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