Customer Reviews for

The Story of Charlotte's Web: E. B. White's Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

12 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

Excellent book about an excellent book

The Book Report: The well-studied life of Andy and Katharine White, The New Yorker's original power couple, would seem to be infertile territory for new and original uses of its rich, deep material. There have been books and books on the magazine, on the c...
The Book Report: The well-studied life of Andy and Katharine White, The New Yorker's original power couple, would seem to be infertile territory for new and original uses of its rich, deep material. There have been books and books on the magazine, on the couple, on the people that they knew and the world they both created and lived in. But no one until now connected Andy, nature, and Charlotte's Web, arguably one of the 20th century's most influential children's books.

Sims does this unusual job deftly, providing us with the bare facts of Andy's life, expanding upon those facets that serve his thesis that E.B. "Andy" White was less a social maladroit than a man in love with the natural world, and not greatly interested in most of the manufactured world around him; this slantwise perspective is what allowed the shy guy to see the story he would write, where others would merely have killed the pig for supper and brushed the web aside on the way out of the barn.

Due attention is given to the work life and the marriage of the man, and since that's well-trodden territory, the author leaves it in bare-bones form. I agree with this decision because it lets him get to the more involving parts of the story: Why did Charlotte come to be? What forces shaped the story, where did they come from, and how did this book make its journey from brainstorm to commercial success? Here is Sims's strength: He never bloviates about His Ideas, he distills a prodigious amount of reading, thinking, and talking into a nuanced, interesting, and immersive read about a book that, I suspect, most of us remember quite clearly encountering for the first time.

My Review: I disliked Stuart Little as a boy. I'd seen the dog give birth before I read it for the first time; I told my mother, "That story's stupid, she couldn't have had a baby that small alive." Mama looked at me a minute and said, "You're a very practical person, aren't you daaahlin?" (My mother was Southern.) She then gave me Charlotte's Web. I was forever changed. Death entered my world. I don't mean awareness of it; I mean the *experience* of death, when Charlotte dies, was completely and utterly real for me. Absence. Empty space where before was an important life. Re-reading the book, as I did three or four times, couldn't make death go away. Charlotte was gone, that was that, no way was she coming back and her daughters weren't her. It took some time to recover from this blow.

And then several things happened: 1) I found out the same guy wrote this wonderful book as the dumb mouse-boy book. 2) I suddenly, in a great flash, realized that stories require readers to live, and even if Charlotte was dead, the story wasn't. 3) Maybe Stuart Little wasn't as bad as I thought it was, because the same guy told it! (Actually, I still think it's stupid, and I don't like it to this good day, forty-four years later.)

So this book arrives from its publisher, all pretty and invitingly designed, and it's about the book that changed my worldview, and it's got that great new-book, ink-and-paper smell; well, what else to do but put down everything I was reading and all the chores I should be doing, curl up on my breezy, cool sunporch, and immerse myself in the story of the story I've adored for most of my life?

I am so very glad that I did. I fee

posted by Oldfan on June 17, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

Sharkie

Not very good but , made my teacher cry.

posted by 201242 on December 31, 2011

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  • Posted June 17, 2011

    Excellent book about an excellent book

    <B>The Book Report</b>: The well-studied life of Andy and Katharine White, <I>The New Yorker</i>'s original power couple, would seem to be infertile territory for new and original uses of its rich, deep material. There have been books and books on the magazine, on the couple, on the people that they knew and the world they both created and lived in. But no one until now connected Andy, nature, and <I>Charlotte's Web</i>, arguably one of the 20th century's most influential children's books.

    Sims does this unusual job deftly, providing us with the bare facts of Andy's life, expanding upon those facets that serve his thesis that E.B. "Andy" White was less a social maladroit than a man in love with the natural world, and not greatly interested in most of the manufactured world around him; this slantwise perspective is what allowed the shy guy to see the story he would write, where others would merely have killed the pig for supper and brushed the web aside on the way out of the barn.

    Due attention is given to the work life and the marriage of the man, and since that's well-trodden territory, the author leaves it in bare-bones form. I agree with this decision because it lets him get to the more involving parts of the story: Why did Charlotte come to be? What forces shaped the story, where did they come from, and how did this book make its journey from brainstorm to commercial success? Here is Sims's strength: He never bloviates about His Ideas, he distills a prodigious amount of reading, thinking, and talking into a nuanced, interesting, and immersive read about a book that, I suspect, most of us remember quite clearly encountering for the first time.

    <B>My Review</b>: I disliked <I>Stuart Little</i> as a boy. I'd seen the dog give birth before I read it for the first time; I told my mother, "That story's stupid, she couldn't have had a baby that small alive." Mama looked at me a minute and said, "You're a very practical person, aren't you daaahlin?" (My mother was Southern.) She then gave me <I>Charlotte's Web</i>. I was forever changed. Death entered my world. I don't mean awareness of it; I mean the *experience* of death, when Charlotte dies, was completely and utterly real for me. Absence. Empty space where before was an important life. Re-reading the book, as I did three or four times, couldn't make death go away. Charlotte was gone, that was that, no way was she coming back and her daughters weren't her. It took some time to recover from this blow.

    And then several things happened: 1) I found out the same guy wrote this wonderful book as the dumb mouse-boy book. 2) I suddenly, in a great flash, realized that stories require readers to live, and even if Charlotte was dead, the story wasn't. 3) Maybe <I>Stuart Little</i> wasn't as bad as I thought it was, because the same guy told it! (Actually, I still think it's stupid, and I don't like it to this good day, forty-four years later.)

    So this book arrives from its publisher, all pretty and invitingly designed, and it's about the book that changed my worldview, and it's got that great new-book, ink-and-paper smell; well, what else to do but put down everything I was reading and all the chores I should be doing, curl up on my breezy, cool sunporch, and immerse myself in the story of the story I've adored for most of my life?

    I am so very glad that I did. I fee

    12 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 10, 2013

    Delightful little book

    As a childhood fan of "Charlotte's Web," it was fun to read about how the book came to be, as well as the continuing influence of E.B. White. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but suffice it to say that most college students who write compositions, as well as many movie fans, will see how their lives have been touched by the gifted Mr. White.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    Sharkie

    Not very good but , made my teacher cry.

    2 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2011

    This is alot of money

    This is alot of money

    1 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2014

    I just wanna read Charlottes web!

    I wanna read the book! Not how E.B White got the idea... hmm... i hate it when you can't search a title up and get what you want, but... you can't get what you want... if it makes you mad & you wanna chat... type To keegan in the headline... and if you have any questions (appropriate may i add) i will answer them... 10 fun facts about me... hmm, where to start? I know! 1) i like to draw but im not that good at drawing 2)i am currently trying to get over my bf breaking up with me 3) i am switching schools for a year 4) i have 2 cats (dexter, and the boy we thought was a girl, gracie/crazy... the crazy nickname was my dads idea...) and 2 dogs, coda and nala ( we got both dogs from my uncle... and he loves disney movies) 5) hmmm, my nickname is turtle because im slow at everything 6) i have 1 sister and she is 5 years old 7) my name is keegan, and i am 15 years old 8) im amazing at football... ping pong... basketball... and tennis... and i sometimes play baseball 9) i play trumpet, clarinet, guitar, piano, sax, drums, a little bit of violin 10) i hate my life because right now, every one seems mad at me... even if i didnt do anythibg wrong... :-( Well there you go... my life in ten fun facts... hope you enjoyed it... i had a hard time deciding what to put down for the funfacts... have more... maybe some other time... it is 12:00 and i have an orientation at 6:00 tomorrow night... better get to bed

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2014

    Um

    What?????????????

    0 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2013

    Tigereyes

    Natureclan

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2013

    Books about books seldom please

    Even the authors don t know why something works and with kids books it is also the illustrations without them ?

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2013

    L

    J

    0 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2013

    an okay book

    It was a very ok book for m as my opion

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    I love charlottes web!!!!!!

    I effing love this book daisy from east haddan ct

    0 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    Rosemary,Febuary,2012

    Charlotte,s Web was my favorite book I ever read.

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2011

    Awsome

    This is a great book

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2011

    awesome

    I love this book..its been my favorite in like the hole world since i was a littld girl..it made me cry the first time..and i still doo

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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