Charlotte's Web

( 213 )

Overview

Sixty years ago, on October 15, 1952, E.B. White's Charlotte's Web was published. It's gone on to become one of the most beloved children's books of all time. To celebrate this milestone, the renowned Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo has written a heartfelt and poignant tribute to the book that is itself a beautiful translation of White's own view of the world—of the joy he took in the change of seasons, in farm life, in the miracles of life and death, and, in short, the glory of...

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Overview

Sixty years ago, on October 15, 1952, E.B. White's Charlotte's Web was published. It's gone on to become one of the most beloved children's books of all time. To celebrate this milestone, the renowned Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo has written a heartfelt and poignant tribute to the book that is itself a beautiful translation of White's own view of the world—of the joy he took in the change of seasons, in farm life, in the miracles of life and death, and, in short, the glory of everything.

We are proud to include Kate DiCamillo's foreword in the 60th anniversary editions of this cherished classic.

Charlotte's Web is the story of a little girl named Fern who loved a little pig named Wilbur—and of Wilbur's dear friend Charlotte A. Cavatica, a beautiful large grey spider who lived with Wilbur in the barn.

With the help of Templeton, the rat who never did anything for anybody unless there was something in it for him, and by a wonderfully clever plan of her own, Charlotte saved the life of Wilbur, who by this time had grown up to quite a pig.

How all this comes about is Mr. White's story. It is a story of the magic of childhood on the farm. The thousands of children who loved Stuart Little, the heroic little city mouse, will be entranced with Charlotte the spider, Wilbur the pig, and Fern, the little girl who understood their language.

The forty-seven black-and-white drawings by Garth Williams have all the wonderful detail and warmhearted appeal that children love in his work. Incomparably matched to E.B. White's marvelous story, they speak to each new generation, softly and irresistibly.

Wilbur the pig is desolate when he discovers that he is destined to be the farmer's Christmas dinner until his spider friend, Charlotte decides to help him.

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    May11/CharlottesWebTrailer_FINAL_BB_ff9c1d1a4ef2e91b950e58219c12a2edc46e4594  

Editorial Reviews

Riverbank Review
E.B. White's fine reading provides new interest in a sublime story of life and death and friendship.
Karen Lowther
Some pig! These words that Charlotte spins into her web to describe Wilbur cause plenty of excitement, and ultimately, help save his life. First published in 1952, this heartwarming classic about likable pig and his loyal spider friend shows readers that true friendships last forever. This Newbery Honor book portrays the relationship of these two extraordinary creatures. It also depicts life and death, the passage of time, and the wonders of nature with sensitivity and humor.
Mailbox Bookbag Magazine
Publishers Weekly
E.B. White's enduring classic celebrates in style with the release of the Charlotte's Web 5oth Anniversary Retrospective Edition. The handsome volume sports a clothbound cover framing original jacket art; inside, Rosemary Wells adds country color to Garth Williams's original b&w illustrations. An afterword by Peter F. Neumeyer illuminates White's life and work, including photographs of the author on his farm in Maine as well as pages from the seminal manuscript. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Wilbur the pig, is desolate when he discovers that he is destined to be the farmer's Christmas dinner, Then his spider friend, Charlotte, decides to help him. It is a wonderful story filled with humor and examples of what it really means to be a friend. The book will not dissapoint, even if kids have seen the movie version. 1953 Newbery Honor Book.
Eudora Welty
What the book is about is friendship on earth, affection and protection, adventure and miracle, life and death, trust and treachery, pleasure and pain, and the passing of time. As a piece of work it is just about perfect, and just about magical in the way it is done. "At-at-at, at the risk of repeating myself," as the goose says, Charlotte's Web is an adorable book. books of the Century, New York times review, October 1952
Rosellen Brown
Toni Morrison has made herself into the D. H. Lawrence of the black psyche. -- New York Magazine
Jonathon Yardlay
She belongs in no category except her own, and that one is as large as her talent -- which is to say, very large indeed. -- The Washington Star
Children's Literature - Jody Little
After 60 years, the story of Fern, her pig, Wilber, the wise spider, Charlotte, and all their barn friends still resonates clearly with the message of wonderment and friendship. It could be argued that White's story is even more important today than it was upon first publication. This novel is more than a story of a little pig that desperately wants a friend, and then finds one in a spider, who shares her love by weaving messages in her web. The novel is a celebration of the outdoor world. White masterfully expresses his joy of the outdoors in his descriptions of bird songs, nature's food, the sounds and smells of a barn, and the thrill of a rope swing. This 60th Anniversary Edition keeps the look of the original, complete with Garth Williams' detailed illustrations. It also includes a new forward by Newberry-winning author, Kate DiCamillo, in which DiCamillo confesses that she did not read the novel until she was an adult for fear that things would not turn out well. The miracle of the book, she writes, is that "we bear this unbearable thing. And in the end, we even rejoice." Reviewer: Jody Little
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064400558
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/1974
  • Series: A Trophy Bk.
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 359
  • Age range: 6 - 11 Years
  • Lexile: 680L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.28 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

E. B. White, the author of such beloved classics as Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan, was born in Mount Vernon, New York. He graduated from Cornell University in 1921 and, five or six years later, joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine, then in its infancy. He died on October 1, 1985, and was survived by his son and three grandchildren.

Mr. White's essays have appeared in Harper's magazine, and some of his other books are: One Man's Meat, The Second Tree from the Corner, Letters of E. B. White, Essays of E. B. White, and Poems and Sketches of E. B. White. He won countless awards, including the 1971 National Medal for Literature and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, which commended him for making a "substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children."

During his lifetime, many young readers asked Mr. White if his stories were true. In a letter written to be sent to his fans, he answered, "No, they are imaginary tales . . . But real life is only one kind of life—there is also the life of the imagination."

Garth Williams began his work on the pictures for the Little House books by meeting Laura Ingalls Wilder at her home in Missouri, and then he traveled to the sites of all the little houses. His charming art caused Laura to remark that she and her family "live again in these illustrations."

Kate DiCamillo is the acclaimed author of many books for young readers, including The Tale of Despereaux, winner of the Newbery Medal; Because of Winn-Dixie, a Newbery Honor Book; and The Tiger Rising, a National Book Award finalist. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Biography

"Style is even more important in children's books than in those for adults,” said the New York Times reviewer of Stuart Little, E.B. White's first book for children, in 1954. White -- an essayist whose elegant, deceptively simple writings for Harper's and The New Yorker had garnered him national acclaim -- may have seemed an unlikely children’s book author, but Stuart Little proved that good writing (and style) could translate to any genre, even to books for readers too young to enjoy his Talk of the Town pieces.

White had in fact been writing ever since he was a child, growing up in the "leafy suburbs" of Mount Vernon, New York. "I fell in love with the sound of an early typewriter and have been stuck with it ever since," he said later. After graduating from Cornell University in 1921, he tried to turn his facility with words into some form of gainful employment, but found advertising too dull and news reporting too taxing. Finally the Seattle Times asked him to create a small daily column of brief anecdotes and light verse, and White joined Mark Twain in the pantheon of American newspaper humorists.

In 1926, a fledgling publication called The New Yorker offered him a job on its staff. There, he helped create the signature style of clear, elegant writing with which the magazine would thereafter be associated. In New York he befriended writers like James Thurber and Dorothy Parker, and met the woman who was to become his wife, the literary editor Katharine Sergeant Angell.

White's second literary career, as a writer of children's books, had its origins in a dream of a little boy like a mouse, "all complete, with his hat, his cane, and his brisk manner." He began to make up stories about this dapper character to please his nephews and nieces, and eventually organized the Stuart Little stories into a book, which was published to high acclaim in 1945, and made into a feature film in 1999.

The barn of White's farmhouse in Maine provided the inspiration for a second children's book, Charlotte's Web (1952). This fable about a heroic spider and her efforts to save a pig from slaughter was even more successful than Stuart Little. "As a piece of work it is just about perfect," wrote Eudora Welty in The New York Times, and millions of readers agreed. Charlotte's Web was still high on the bestseller lists in 1970, when it was joined by White's third and final book for children, The Trumpet of the Swan.

White produced another bestseller in 1959, when he revised and expanded a little handbook of grammar and usage written by his late teacher at Cornell, William Strunk, Jr. Now familiar to generations of college students as Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, the book made a wise and witty case for what White called "clearness, accuracy and brevity in the use of English."

White's assessment of his own writing was a characteristic mix of humility and grandeur: "All that I ever hope to say in books is that I love the world. I guess you can find that in there, if you dig around."

Good To Know

Galleys of Stuart Little were sent to Anne Carroll Moore, who was head of children's books at the New York Public Library. Moore hated it. "To her it was nonaffirmative, inconclusive, unfit for children, and she felt it would harm its author if published," said White's editor, Ursula Nordstrom. She fired off a letter to White’s wife, and then made her case to Nordstrom -- who went ahead and published anyway.

After Stuart Little was released, White received a great deal of praise for the book, as well as some unusual criticism: "Then three fellows turned up claiming that their name was Stuart Little, and what was I going to do about that?" he wrote. "One of them told me he had begun work on a children's story: The hero was a rat and the rat's name was E. B. White."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Elwyn Brooks White (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 11, 1899
    2. Place of Birth:
      Mount Vernon, New York
    1. Date of Death:
      October 1, 1985
    2. Place of Death:
      North Brooklin, Maine

Read an Excerpt

1



THE END of the world, as it turned out, was nothing more than a collection of magnificent winter houses on Isle des Chevaliers. When laborers imported from Haiti came to clear the land, clouds and fish were convinced that the world was over, that the sea-green green of the sea and the sky-blue sky of the sky were no longer permanent. Wild parrots that had escaped the stones of hungry children in Queen of France agreed and raised havoc as they flew away to look for yet another refuge. Only the champion daisy trees were serene. After all, they were part of a rain forest already two thousand years old and scheduled for eternity, so they ignored the men and continued to rock the diamondbacks that slept in their arms. It took the river to persuade them that indeed the world was altered. That never again would the rain be equal, and by the time they realized it and had run their roots deeper, clutching the earth like lost boys found, it was too late. The men had already folded the earth where there had been no fold and hollowed her where there had been no hollow, which explains what happened to the river. It crested, then lost its course, and finally its head. Evicted from the place where it had lived, and forced into unknown turf, it could not form its pools or waterfalls, and ran every which way. The clouds gathered together, stood still and watched the river scuttle around the forest floor, crash headlong into the haunches of hills with no notion of where it was going, until exhausted, ill and grieving, it slowed to a stop just twenty leagues short of the sea.

The clouds looked at each other, then broke apart in confusion. Fish heard their hooves as they raced offto carry the news of the scatterbrained river to the peaks of hills and the tops of the champion daisy trees. But it was too late. The men had gnawed through the daisy trees until, wild-eyed and yelling, they broke in two and hit the ground. In the huge silence that followed their fall, orchids spiraled down to join them.

When it was over, and houses instead grew in the hills, those trees that had been spared dreamed of their comrades for years afterward and their nightmare mutterings annoyed the diamondbacks who left them for the new growth that came to life in spaces the sun saw for the first time. Then the rain changed and was no longer equal. Now it rained not just for an hour every day at the same time, but in seasons, abusing the river even more. Poor insulted, brokenhearted river. Poor demented stream. Now it sat in one place like a grandmother and became a swamp the Haitians called Sein de Vieilles. And witch's tit it was: a shriveled fogbound oval seeping with a thick black substance that even mosquitoes could not live near.

But high above it were hills and vales so bountiful it made visitors tired to look at them: bougainvillea, avocado, poinsettia, lime, banana, coconut and the last of the rain forest's champion trees. Of the houses built there, the oldest and most impressive was L'Arbe de la Croix. It had been designed by a brilliant Mexican architect, but the Haitian laborers had no union and therefore could not distinguish between craft and art, so while the panes did not fit their sashes, the windowsills and door saddles were carved lovingly to perfection. They sometimes forgot or ignored the determination of water to flow downhill so the toilets and bidets could not always produce a uniformly strong swirl of water. But the eaves were so wide and deep that the windows could be left open even in a storm and no rain could enter the rooms—only wind, scents and torn-away leaves. The floor planks were tongue-in-groove, but the hand-kilned tiles from Mexico, though beautiful to behold, loosened at a touch. Yet the doors were plumb and their knobs, hinges and locks secure as turtles.

It was a wonderful house. Wide, breezy and full of light. Built in the days when plaster was taken for granted and with the sun and the airstream in mind, it needed no air conditioning. Graceful landscaping kept the house just under a surfeit of beauty. Every effort had been made to keep it from looking "designed." Almost nothing was askew and the few things that were had charm: the little island touches here and there (a washhouse, a kitchen garden, for example) were practical. At least that was the judgment of discriminating visitors. They all agreed that except for the unfortunate choice of its name it was "the most handsomely articulated and blessedly unrhetorical house in the Caribbean." One or two had reservations—wondered whether all that interior sunlight wasn't a little too robust and hadn't the owner gone rather overboard with the recent addition of a greenhouse? Valerian Street was mindful of their criticism, but completely indifferent to it. His gray eyes drifted over the faces of such guests like a four o'clock shadow on its way to twilight. They reminded him of the Philadelphia widows who, when they heard he was going to spend the whole first year of his retirement in his island house, said, "You'll be back. Six months and you will be bored out of your mind." That was four Decembers ago, and the only things he missed were hydrangeas and the postman. The new greenhouse made it possible to reproduce the hydrangea but the postman was lost to him forever. The rest of what he loved he brought with him: some records, garden shears, a sixty-four-bulb chandelier, a light blue tennis shirt and the Principal Beauty of Maine. Ferrara Brothers (Domestic and International) took care of the rest, and with the help of two servants, the Principal Beauty and mounds of careful correspondence he was finally installed for the year on a hill high enough to watch the sea from three sides. Not that he was interested. Beyond its providing the weather that helped or prevented the steamers bringing mail, he never gave the sea a thought. And whatever he did think about, he thought it privately in his greenhouse. In the late afternoons, when the heat had to be taken seriously, and early in the morning, he was there. Long before the Principal Beauty had removed her sleeping mask, he turned the switch that brought the "Goldberg" Variations into the greenhouse. At first he'd experimented with Chopin and some of the Russians, but the Magnum Rex peonies, overwhelmed by all that passion, whined and curled their lips. He settled finally on Bach for germination, Haydn and Liszt for strong sprouting. After that all of the plants seemed content with Rampal's Rondo in D. By the time he sugared his breakfast coffee, the peonies, the anemones and all their kind had heard forty or fifty minutes of music which nourished them but set Sydney the butler's teeth on edge although he'd heard some variety of it every day for forty years. What made it bearable now was that the music was confined to the greenhouse and not swarming all through the house as it often did back in Philadelphia. He could hear it only thinly now as he wiped moisture beads from a glass of iced water with a white napkin. He set it near the cup and saucer and noticed how much the liver spots had faded on his employer's hand. Mr. Street thought it was the lotion he rubbed on nightly, but Sydney thought it was the natural tanning of the skin in this place they had all come to three years ago.

Except for the kitchen, which had a look of permanence, the rest of the house had a hotel feel about it—a kind of sooner or later leaving appearance: a painting or two hung in an all right place but none was actually stationed or properly lit; the really fine china was still boxed and waiting for a decision nobody was willing to make. It was hard to serve well in the tentativeness. No crystal available (it too was closed away in Philadelphia) so a few silver trays had to do for everything from fruit to petits fours. Every now and then, the Principal Beauty, on one of her trips, brought back from the States another carton chock-full of something Sydney asked for: the blender, the carborundum stone, two more tablecloths. These items had to be carefully selected because they were exchanged for other items that she insisted on taking back to Philadelphia. It was her way of keeping intact the illusion that they still lived in the States but were wintering near Dominique. Her husband encouraged her fantasy by knotting every loose string of conversation with the observation "It can wait till we get home." Six months after they'd arrived Sydney told his wife that periodic airing of trunk luggage in the sunlight was more habit than intention. They would have to tear down that greenhouse to get him off the island because as long as it was there, he'd be there too. What the devil does he do in there, she had asked him.

"Relaxes a little, that's all. Drinks a bit, reads, listens to his records.''

"Can't nobody spend every day in a shed for three years without being up to some devilment,'' she said.

"It's not a shed," said Sydney. "It's a greenhouse I keep telling you."

"Whatever you call it."

"He grows hydrangeas in there. And dahlias."

"If he wants hydrangeas he should go back home. He hauls everybody down to the equator to grow Northern flowers?"

"It's not just that. Remember how he liked his study back at the house? Well, it's like that, except it's a greenhouse kind of a study."

"Anybody build a greenhouse on the equator ought to be shame.''

''This is not the equator."

"Could of fooled me."

"Nowhere near it."

"You mean there's some place on this planet hotter than this?"

"I thought you liked it here."

"Love it."

"Then stop complaining."

"It's because I do love it that I'm complaining. I'd like to know if it's permanent. Living like this you can't figure nothing. He might pack up any minute and trot off someplace else."

"He'll be here till he dies," Sydney told her. "Less that greenhouse burns up."

"Well, I'll pray nothing happens to it," she said, but she needn't have. Valerian took very good care of the greenhouse for it was a nice place to talk to his ghosts in peace while he transplanted, fed, air-layered, rooted, watered, dried and thinned his plants. He kept a small refrigerator of Blanc de Blancs and read seed catalogs while he sipped the wine. Sometimes he gazed through the little greenhouse panes at the washhouse. Other times he checked catalogs, brochures and entered into ringing correspondence with nurseries from Tokyo to Newburgh, New York. He read only mail these days, having given up books because the language in them had changed so much—stained with rivulets of disorder and meaninglessness. He loved the greenhouse and the island, but not his neighbors. Luckily there was a night, three years ago, after he'd first settled into tropic life, when he woke up with a toothache so brutal it lifted him out of bed and knocked him to his knees. He knelt on the floor clutching the Billy Blass sheets and thinking, This must be a stroke. No tooth could do this to me. Directly above the waves of pain his left eye was crying while his right went dry with rage. He crawled to the night table and pressed the button that called Sydney. When he arrived, Valerian insisted on being taken to Queen of France at once, but there was no way to get there. At that hour fishermen had not even begun to stir and the launch was twice a week. They owned no boat and even if they had neither Sydney nor anyone else could handle it. So the quick-witted butler telephoned the neighbors Valerian hated and got both the use of a fifty-six-foot Palaos called Seabird II and the boat skills of the Filipino houseboy. After a daring jeep ride in the dark, an interminable boat ride and a taxi ride that was itself a memory, they arrived at Dr. Mhichelin's door at 2:00 a.m. Sydney banged while the Filipino chatted with the taxi driver. The dentist roared out the second floor window. He had been run out of Algeria and thought his door was being assaulted by local Blacks—whose teeth he would not repair. At last, Valerian, limp and craven, sat in the dentist's chair where he gave himself up to whatever the Frenchman had in mind. Dr. Michelin positioned a needle toward the roof of Valerian's mouth but seemed to change his mind at the last minute, for Valerian felt the needle shoot straight into his nostril on up to the pupil of his eye and out his left temple. He stretched his hand toward the doctor's trousers, hoping that his death grip—the one they always had to pry loose—would be found to contain the crushed balls of a D.D.S. But before he could get a grip under the plaid bathrobe, the pain disappeared and Valerian wept outright, grateful for the absence of all sensation in his head. Dr. Michelin didn't do another thing. He just sat down and poured himself a drink, eyeing his patient in silence.

This encounter, born in encouraged hatred, ended in affection. The good doctor let Valerian swallow a little of his brandy through a straw and against his better judgment, and Valerian recognized a man who took his medical oaths seriously. They got good and drunk together that night, and the combination of Novocain and brandy gave Valerian an expansiveness he had not felt in years. They visited each other occasionally and whenever Valerian thought of that first meeting he touched the place where the abscess had been and smiled. It had a comic book quality about it: two elderly men drunk and quarreling about Pershing (whom Valerian had actually seen), neither one mentioning then or ever the subject of exile or advanced years which was what they had in common. Both felt as though they had been run out of their homes. Robert Michelin expelled from Algeria; Valerian Street voluntarily exiled from Philadelphia.

Both had been married before and the long years of a second marriage had done nothing to make either forget his first. The memory of those years of grief in the wake of a termagant was still keen. Michelin had remarried within a year of his divorce, but Valerian stayed a bachelor for a long time and on purpose until he went out for an after lunch stroll on a wintry day in Maine, a stroll he hoped would get rid of the irritable boredom he'd felt among all those food industry appliance reps. His walk from the inn had taken him only two blocks to the main street when he found himself in the middle of a local Snow Carnival Parade. He saw the polar bear and then he saw her. The bear was standing on its hind feet, its front ones raised in benediction. A rosy-cheeked girl was holding on to one of the bear's forefeet like a bride. The plastic igloo behind them threw into dazzling relief her red velvet coat and the ermine muff she waved to the crowd. The moment he saw her something inside him knelt down.


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First Chapter

Chapter One

Before Breakfast

"Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

"Out to the hoghouse," replied Mrs. Arable. "Some pigs were born last night."

"I don't see why he needs an ax," continued Fern, who was only eight.

"Well," said her mother, "one of the pigs is a runt. It's very small and weak, and it will never amount to anything. So your father has decided to do away with it."

"Do away with it?" shrieked Fern. "You mean kill it? Just because it's smaller than the others?"

Mrs. Arable put a pitcher of cream on the table. "Don't yell, Fern!" she said. "Your father is right. The pig would probably die anyway."

Fern pushed a chair out of the way and ran outdoors. The grass was wet and the earth smelled of springtime. Fern's sneakers were sopping by the time she caught up with her father.

"Please don't kill it!" she sobbed. "It's unfair."

Mr. Arable stopped walking.

"Fern," he said gently, "you will have to learn to control yourself."

"Control myself?" yelled Fern. "This is a matter of life and death, and you talk about controlling myself." Tears ran down her cheeks and she took hold of the ax and tried to pull it out of her father's hand.

"Fern," said Mr. Arable, "I know more about raising a litter of pigs than you do. A weakling makes trouble. Now run along!"

"But it's unfair," cried Fern. "The pig couldn't help being born small, could it? If I had been very small at birth, would you have killed me?"

Mr. Arable smiled. "Certainly not," he said, looking down at his daughter with love. "But this is different. A little girl is one thing, a little runty pigis another."

"I see no difference," replied Fern, still hanging on to the ax. "This is the most terrible case of injustice I ever heard of."

A queer look came over John Arable's face. He seemed almost ready to cry himself.

"All right," he said. "You go back to the house and I will bring the runt when I come in. I'll let you start it on a bottle, like a baby. Then you'll see what trouble a pig can be."

When Mr. Arable returned to the house half an hour later, he carried a carton under his arm. Fern was upstairs changing her sneakers. The kitchen table was set for breakfast, and the room smelled of coffee, bacon, damp plaster, and wood smoke from the stove.

"Put it on her chair!" said Mrs. Arable. Mr. Arable set the carton down at Fern's place. Then he walked to the sink and washed his hands and dried them on the roller towel.

Fern came slowly down the stairs. Her eyes were red from crying. As she approached her chair, the carton wobbled, and there was a scratching noise. Fern looked at her father. Then she lifted the lid of the carton. There, inside, looking up at her, was the newborn pig. It was a white one. The morning light shone through its ears, turning them pink.

"He's yours," said Mr. Arable. "Saved from an untimely death. And may the good Lord forgive me for this foolishness."

Fern couldn't take her eyes off the tiny pig. "Oh," she whispered. "Oh, look at him! He's absolutely perfect."

She closed the carton carefully. First she kissed her father, then she kissed her mother. Then she opened the lid again, lifted the pig out, and held it against her cheek. At this moment her brother Avery came into the room. Avery was ten. He was heavily armed-an air rifle in one hand, a wooden dagger in the other.

"What's that?" he demanded. "What's Fern got?"

"She's got a guest for breakfast," said Mrs. Arable. "Wash your hands and face, Avery!"

"Let's see it!" said Avery, setting his gun down.

"You call that miserable thing a pig? That's a fine specimen of a pig-it's no bigger than a white rat."

"Wash up and eat your breakfast, Avery!" said his mother. "The school bus will be along in half an hour."

"Can I have a pig, too, Pop?" asked Avery.

"No, I only distribute pigs to early risers," said Mr. Arable. "Fern was up at daylight, trying to rid the world of injustice. As a result, she now has a pig. A small one, to be sure, but nevertheless a pig. It just shows what can happen if a person gets out of bed promptly. Let's eat!"

But Fern couldn't eat until her pig had had a drink of milk. Mrs. Arable found a baby's nursing bottle and a rubber nipple. She poured warm milk into the bottle, fitted the nipple over the top, and handed it to Fern. "Give him his breakfast!" she said.

A minute later, Fern was seated on the floor in the corner of the kitchen with her infant between her knees, teaching it to suck from the bottle. The pig, although tiny, had a good appetite and caught on quickly.

The school bus honked from the road.

"Run!" commanded Mrs. Arable, taking the pig from Fern and slipping a doughnut into her hand. Avery grabbed his gun and another doughnut.

The children ran out to the road and climbed into the bus. Fern took no notice of the others in the bus. She just sat and stared out of the window, thinking what a blissful world it was and how lucky she was to have entire charge of a pig. By the time the bus reached school, Fern had named her pet, selecting the most beautiful name she could think of.

"Its name is Wilbur," she whispered to herself.

She was still thinking about the pig when the teacher said: "Fern, what is the capital of Pennsylvania?"

"Wilbur," replied Fern, dreamily. The pupils giggled. Fern blushed.

Charlotte's Web Book and Charm. Copyright © by E. White. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 213 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 13, 2010

    Sorry I didn't read this when I was younger

    Charlotte's Web is an amazing book. When I was younger, I never wanted to read it. I have watched the movie and loved it. Now I am homeschooling my daughter and this book popped up for a novel requirement. She was against it at first. But from the very first moment of us reading it together--we were both hooked. I woudl limit it to 2 chapters per day. And after reading those 2 chapters--we both wanted to read more. It was a very hard book to put down. We both loved every minute of it. And i enjoyed reading this book (at the age of 35)--more because I read it with my daughter. We laughed together, we cried together. Imagine me, a 35 year old mother cryong when Charlotte died. This book is truly a wonderful peiece of literature that everyone should read. A true classic. However--now my daughter is begging me for a baby pig. Someday--she will read this to her children and they will hopefully beg her for one also.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This is a great book for the young reader that needs a challenging book to read.

    This book is great for the young reader to explore the land of imagination. The characters wil come alive and he or she will be captivated for hours. The story is set on a farm. A farmer's pig has a lot of newborns and one is a runt. His daughter Dorothy falls in love iwth the runt, named Wilbur, at first sight. He is treated as a human being by her. When he is too large to remain with Dorothy, he is given to Dorothy's uncle Mr. Zuckerman. After some time Uncle Zuckerman decides to fatten and kill Wilbur. With the aid of a spider named Charlotte and a rat named Tippleton, Wilbur's life is spared until the day he passes away on his own.
    The main characters in the book that will grab and retain a reader's attention is Charlotte the spider, Wilbur the pig, and Tippleton the rat. Charlotte is a carefree, kind, loving, and a true friend. She spells out adjectives to describe Wilbur throughout the story to save his life from being ended by Zuckerman. She instructs Wilbur on how to conduct himself when Zuckerman and other humans are watching him. Wilbur is a pig that learns to talk and is searching for a friend to replace Dorothy. He meets Charlotte and instantly falls in love with her. His life is spared and in return for Charlotte's help in saving his life, he watches over and cares for her three daughters that remain on the farm. The rat Tippleton exemplifies the true meaning of the word rat. He steals whatever he can get his hands on and lies to get himself out of trouble. He cares only for himself at the beginning of the book but gradually over time has a change of heart. This is largely due to the reality that is Wilbur is killed, then he will not be fed anymore. This prompts him to help Charlotte save Wilbur's life.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2010

    When and Why to Read?

    This book was a lot of fun to read and I was surely interested in it. I think it was a good book to read with a class or to read just for fun!:)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2010

    Charlotte's Web

    This is a great book. I read it as a kid. My daughter likes the story too. We got a copy of the book when we bought the DVD. It's a story about animals growing up and making friends. It does have a sad part in it as one of the main characters dies. It is a great story overall.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    this book was purchased as a gift

    I read this book as a child and remember it being a great story - because of that I purchased the book as a gift for my neice

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    an wonderful classic.

    Charlottes web is a wonderful book. This book is great for everybody. Adults will love reading this book, reading to or with there kids or just kids by there self. Everyone will love it.It has a great story-line. You will not want to put ot down. The book has a lot of emotion. I am not going to let you know anymore. You will have to read it to find out. Thank you.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 27, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Story of frienships and love

    Charlotte's Web is a wonderufl tale of a young girl, her precious pig Wilbur, and a wonderful spider. The book is a beautiful story of friendship, love, and loyalty. It is a tender story of a lovely young girl and a very smart spider who together instill self esteem and dignity in their friend Wilbur. It truly is a book of life, in that all of the animal characters mirror people in this world who face the challenge of living their lives each day. It reminds me very much of a great series of children's books titled "Why some cats are rascals". In that three-book series the heroic cats also live their lives like humans. Both titles belong to my Top Ten Read-Aloud list.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 5, 2008

    3rd Grade Book Reviewers!

    Charlotte¿s Web is a terrific and heart-warming adventure for a little runt who is saved by a girl named Fern. He moves to Mr. Zuckerman¿s farm to be cooked up for Christmas. Then he meets a small spider named Charlotte who saves his life from just a few words woven in her web. I give this story ten stars.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2012

    When I read the book Charlotte¿s Web by:E.B. White i



    When I read the book Charlotte’s Web by:E.B. White i really liked the book. This book would be a fiction novel . My favorite part was when Charlotte wrote the words in the web. The book is mostly about friendship, life, death, and trust. i would recommend this book to parents and teachers of young children. Charlotte’s web has won a newberry honor award. This a fictional story about a pig a spider and a little girl name Fern. Fern wakes up and sees her papa going outside to the pig house she asked her mom what he was doing and she said some pigs were born last night. There is a spider at her uncles barn and her name is Charlotte. Wilbur the pig and Charlotte become best friends. There is some unexpected things that happen to Wilbur. The Zuckerman’s And Arable’s load up to go to the state fair and enter Wilbur in the pig contest. Fern meets this boy named Henry the go on the farisweel together. The setting for Charlotte’s Web is at the fair and at Fern’s Uncle’s farm. the main character’s are Wilbur, Fern, Henry, Avery, Mr.Arable, Mrs.Arable, Mrs.Zuckerman, Mr.Zuckerman. The theme for this book would be to never give up on something and friends can come from strange places and you can always find a way to do something. I think that overall that Charlotte’s Web is a great book and I would recommend this book to all ages. some main points would be when she wrote in the web and when they went to the fair. I would recommend this book to all ages. I really liked this book and i will probably read it to my kids.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2012

    highly recommend

    I loved this book as a child and read it many times - I can't wait to give it to my grandson and read it with him!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2012

    love this book

    i love this book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 20, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Some book

    I read this book the summer before 5th grade. I had my mother send down books to me where I was staying with family in South Carolina, but not Charlotte¿s Web. In fact, I was hesitant to read it. But Charlotte¿s Web was truly enjoyable, even for a ten-year old. The story is about a pig named Wilbur, saved from death by the farmer¿s daughter Fern, who is eventually transferred to a new farm. There, he meets the brilliant spider Charlotte who becomes his friend and hero, keeping him from being turned into bacon by praising him in a web. The story involves serious and comic topics. I recommend anyone looking for a funny, medium-sized read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 13, 2011

    unforgetable novel...

    i remember reading this book when i was more younger it was so good. the very first two chapters i read, i got attached . i jst could'nt put the book down. i woul rate this book a ten out of ten and i would definitly read the book again when ever i get the chance.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2011

    Talk about interactive read alouds!!

    Charlotte's web is a wonderful book perfect for children and adults, which expresses love, courage, and friendship to the reader. The book is beautifully illustrated throughout the entire reading which helps any reader to truly be a part of the story.

    Charlotte's Web is about a young girl named Fern and her triumphal helpfulness of saving a pig in which her father was about to kill due to it being a runt. Fern takes care of the pig and names him Wilber, and she sits on a stool in Mr. Zuckerman's barn for many days just watching and listening to the noises of the barn. Wilber makes friends with a spider who calls herself Charlotte. Charlotte tries to save Wilber's life by doing all she can as a spider.

    As an elementary teacher I find this book to be a fantastic read aloud. Students always want to hear more about what is going to happen. The story does end on a happy note which is good for young readers, or listeners. If you decide to read this book for a read aloud, you might want to try some summarizing strategies. I like to give my students 3 post-it sticky notes and have them jot down notes on two sticky notes during the read aloud and return to their desks and write a complete sentence explaining either what was read, what they are thinking about, or what they think might happen next. Then I receive 1 sticky note from each and I can quickly read where they are with their comprehension. I use this in the second grade classroom, and it is great for them, and depending on how you set it up, you could probably use it for higher grade levels too for their responsibility of paying attention.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2011

    The book about a spider and a pig

    The book Charlottes Web is a book that I would recommend people to read. It is a great book about animals, and it has many details. It is funny how they put the pig as the main character though. Wilbur is going to be killed if someone does not help him. Is Charlotte's idea going to help him? I really hope you like the story too.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 31, 2010

    Check this book out!

    A classic tale with a heart-warming story. It is one of my favorite books-many know this story very well. Defintely one of E.B. White's best!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2010

    Mikhaela's review of Charolette's web

    Introduction The place was on a farm. It's a girl that saved a pig that was a runt. He became very famous his name was Wilber. This book is very interesting of how he was famous. It has its ups and downs but is a very good book for children. Description and summary of main points This book is about how a pig named Wilber became famous because people thought he made words out of a spider web, but really it was charlotte. He was entered into many contests because of what people thought. Evaluation My opinion about this book is that it is a very well written and it keeps children interested in it. I still love this book because it's creative and has a good background of it. It also teaches kids a good lesson in life to enjoy what you have and not to lie. So that's why I love this book so much. Conclusion This story ended on a sad note. The reason this being is that one of Wilber's best friends died which was charlotte. He was very depressed and upset. He really didn't have anyone else to talk to because Charlotte was his only friend in the barn. Your final review My final review of the book is that it's a great story and it keeps you on the edge of your seat. Also you will just be waiting to hear the next part of what's going to happen. It teaches a valuable message to young people to respect what you have and not to lie.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 18, 2010

    Great Book, Got to Read!!

    Introduction
    Charlotte's Web is a very interesting book. This book is loved by many. It's for any age of any gender. Basically it's an all time American classic.

    Description and summary of main points
    This book is about a girl and her family living on a farm. Her name is Fern Able. Her family and her self live on a farm. One late night she heard something. She looked out the window and saw her father walking over to the barn with an axe in his hand. She immediately hurried up and gathered her boots and rain jacket and she ran over to the barn as fast as possible. She asked her dad what he was doing with the axe. He replied and said a baby pig needed killed because he was the runt. The moment she heard those come out of his mouth she tugged and struggled trying to get the axe out of his hand. She saved that little baby pig that night. She named him Wilbur and he soon became a very popular pig in town.

    He soon became a very important pig all thanks to Charlotte. She wanted to keep Wilbur alive so that he wouldn't be sent to the smoke house. One day she made her web like usual and put a very special word in it. Every one in town came to see everyday what unusual word would be above his pin. They entered him in the town fair since everyone loved him.

    Evaluation
    I thought this was a wonderful book. It includes real things people have to go threw. There are happy times but then there are sad times. This book was fairly well written and just something everyone loves. I recommend it to anyone of any gender or age.

    Conclusion
    Charlotte's Web, is just an all time American Classic. Many people love this book. Its for anyone old or young boy or girl. To be honest while reading this book it made me realize things throughout my life. Read it you won't regret it.

    Your final review
    Like I said Charlotte's Web is a book for everyone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Still a classic and a wonderful book

    This is a wonderful book about friendship, trust, love, loss and rebirth.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2010

    A Classic-

    This is a great story that everyone should read. When I was teaching kindergarten, I read it to my class every year. This is a book that every child should read. A great book to snuggle up in bed at night and read together. The story of Wilbur and his life. His friend Charlotte and the amazing things she does as a good, close friend to Wilbur and their adventures with the other animals and a little girl. You will cry and you will laugh. This is a classic story that you can't miss!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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