Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Favorite Books: Charlotte's Web

As you've probably guessed by now, I'm an old school middle grade reader. While I like a lot of today's middle grade titles, I grew up with many of the older books that today are considered "classics". These books are what influenced me most in shaping my own writing style.

Take Charlotte's Web for example. The first time I read this book was when our teacher read it to us in 5th grade. I think today it may be considered 4th or even 3rd grade reading material, but I really enjoyed it as a 5th grader. I loved the idea that animals could talk and had their little own secret society in Farmer Zuckerman's barnyard.

E.B. White was such a great writer and had such command of the language. I could see the whole book playing out before my eyes so clearly. The emotions were vivid. He brought it all to life. The book had been so real that when I visited Sturbridge Village that fall, I was almost disappointed that the pigs and cattle and oxen didn't speak as they had in the book.

The values in the book also made an impression on me. Charlotte went to extremes to save her friend Wilbur's life, even as her life was ending. Wilbur paid back the favor by guarding Charlotte's eggs until they hatched. The book is truly a great story of

I was quite surprised when E.B. White popped up again when I was in college. I had never known much about his life, so I was surprised when his Elements of Style cropped up in an English class. Was this the E.B. White of Charlotte and Stuart Little? Yes by golly it was. Freaky. Then a little later on, I found out about his career at the New Yorker. I was astounded again. Clearly here was one talented writer for readers of all ages.

As an author I can learn a lot from E.B. White. I can not only admire the stories he wrote that appeal to both young and old, but learn from him as I peruse Elements of Style from time to time, cringing as he reminds me of some bad habits I've picked up over the years.

Yes, Charlotte's Web is a classic book written by an accomplished author who brought the world so much. That's why it's one of my favorite books.

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