I am reading my four-year-old daughter Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White. I had forgotten how great the book is–easily one of the best novels I’ve ever read.
The first line: “‘Where’s Papa going with that axe?’ said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.” Seriously, I can’t think of a better hook. When I took it from the shelf last week, my daughter was hesitant to read what, a year or so ago, she had with odd prescience named “the bacon book.” I said, “I’m just going to read the first line.” I did.
E.B. White’s hook worked.
I love reading this book aloud because it’s so easy to read aloud. E.B. White did his work well.
Today, after reading her the chapter where Wilbur et al prepare to go to the Fair, my daughter acted out part of the story. She needed a spider, and I remembered my husband’s wonderful Steiff spider, now known as “Charlotte.”
My daughter (“Fern”) quickly made a tent for Wilbur and Templeton (because, she informed me, they were going to kill Templeton, too). She said that Charlotte was “one of the savers.” Fern and Charlotte were saving Wilbur and Templeton.
So another reason to love this book: from it spins the truth that it’s not only males who do the saving around the farm. Females do, too. Children who hear animals talking are taken seriously by most adults, even the medical establishment, in the form of Dr. Dorian: “Children pay better attention than grownups. If Fern says that the animals in Zuckerman’s barn talk, I’m quite ready to believe her. Perhaps if people talked less, animals would talk more. People are incessant talkers–I can give you my word on that.”
I can’t wait until bedtime, so I can remember what happens next.