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I met Charlotte when I was 7 or 8. She came at me from the television set in the living room of our small home and I cried.
I don’t remember the next time I ran into her. I looked forward to her annual visit to my living room, but that I could really make her acquaintance within the pages of a book was a mystery to me. Don’t misunderstand me, I was a voracious reader. Cereal boxes, billboards, Andrew Henry’s Meadow, I devoured them all. How to find the hidden gems in the stacks on the library shelves was a mystery to me, though. I can’t remember the first time I read Charlotte’s Web.
I can remember the first time I read Charlotte’s Web with my own children, though. Charlotte is still an old friend. Louis is, too. We are listening to E. B. White read The Trumpet of the Swan to us as we travel to and from here and there.
I have never read The Trumpet of the Swan out loud to my children. I let E. B. White do that. As a matter of fact, I insist he read Charlotte’s Web to us, too. To my mind, there is no better way to fall in love with the trumpeter swan and the barnyard animals. I owe a great deal of gratitude to these animals, they inspired me to pick up a collection of essays by E. B. White.
All of this is very un-Whiteish of me. He supported brevity and I’ve gone far beyond a meandering sentence to introduce him by way of Melissa Sweet’s biography, Some Writer!
Some Writer! is nothing less than an ode to E. B. White. That the book is marked as “child’s reading” only proves that Melissa Sweet has imbibed White’s own view that,
“Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down. Children are demanding. They are the most attentive, curious, eager, observant, sensitive, quick, and generally congenial readers on earth.”
Reading Some Writer!, one is under the impression that Melissa Sweet has so immersed herself in E. B. White, his life, and his writing that she has emulated his style of writing. Her sentences are succinct and she weaves White’s own words, excerpts from his essays and letters, into the story so as the reader is drawn in and held there in much the same way the reader is sitting with Fern Able at the barnyard, or Sam Beaver at the pond’s edge.
The biography is supplemented perfectly with Melissa Sweet’s own artwork. Her collages are perfect for the young reader, inviting him to linger and read an early poem by White, a White family picture, or an early sketch of Charlotte. Her own art, too, adorns the pages. The young reader will be happy to see a map of the White family farm (a prototype for the Arable farm), a sketch of White’s favorite books as a child, or the illustrated expedition of E. B. White and his friend, Cush, when, fresh from college, they traveled across United States.
If your own family is friends with Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and the Trumpet of the Swan, but are still unacquainted with the man behind them all, waste no time in acquiring this book. It’s an easy and short read, but promises hours more of meandering over its pages, guided by nothing more than curiosity.
Readers, both old and young, will have a hard time exhausting the treasures within the pages of this book.