Monday, November 8, 2010

Book Review : Charlotte's Web

Title : Charlotte's Web
Author : E.B.White
Publisher : Scholastic
Age Group : 8+

An endearing tale of an unimaginable friendship between two extremely dissimilar creatures - a pig and a tiny spider. Even the idea of witnessing an affectionate relationship between these two is hard to imagine. But W. B. White has beautifully weaved a loving, emotional and sensitive story of a pig who was born a runt and a common wall spider doing an amazingly inimitable task.

The new born pig was destined to be put to rest soon after its birth because of its under-developed body but for a little girl Fern, who argued with her parents and convinced them to allow her to take care of the pig. With the loving care of Fern, the pig grew big enough to be sold to Mr.Homer Zuckerman, who had a big barn and many farm animals and who sometimes raised pigs too. So the deal was finalised in six dollars and Wilbur became a part of the big strange assorted family. Initially he felt sad and lonely in this new place without Fern but surprisingly one day he was invited into a conversation by a spider, who was hanging from her web on the roof of the pigpen. She liked to be called Charlotte. Thus ensued their unique affectionate bond.

It was a known fact in the barn that in coming winters, Wilbur would be killed by Mr. Zuckerman for one of the grand feasts in the house. But as any living individual Wilbur did not want to die and wanted to live life fully but there was nobody who could help him. Nobody?, no infact this is not true. There was one creature in the barn, who sincerely wanted to save Wilbur. Yes, you guessed it right - it was Charlotter, the spider. But spiders are adept in doing just one task - that is of web weaving, so how could weaving a web help save Wilbur's life? Charlotte came up with the most brilliant idea of her life and miraculously this idea not just worked but it worked so wonderfully that Wilbur - who was once an underdeveloped pig, got accolades for his smooth skin, healthy body and Divine hand behind his existence.
Charlotte's work was done, she was nearing her last days now and had just one last job left which she needed to do at the dusk of her life - making an egg sac and filling it with eggs - lots and lots of eggs. When Wilbur came to know about Charlotte's future, he was heart broken and lost all interest in everything but soon composed himself and took up the onus of being a protector and godfather to Charlotte's children and her grandchildren in her absence. This was his way of expressing gratitude for what his dear friend had done for him.

This book offers a huge range of things for the young readers - the true friendship rising above all sorts of hurdles and limitations, the will and determination are indeed the supreme characteristics and subsequently the way has to follow these two obediently, and some things even defy the demarcation of life and death as Wilbur kept taking care of Charlotte's spirit through her descendants. The messages of self-belief and trust, affection and keeping the promise are conveyed beautifully through this heartwarming and moving story. The penultimate chapter is very touching when Charlotte breathed her last, some parents may not feel comfortable with this particular event but I took this as an opportunity to explain life cycles of different creatures and how living every moment of it positively and helping others is the most important part of being alive rather than just adding years to the life.

The story is appropriately peppered with humor through the presence of many other animals in the farm including the greedy and gluttonous rat - Templeton, who had an important role to play in the whole scheme of things.

A perfect tale of a true friendship.


  1. A wonderful review of an equally wonderful book. This book has been much loved in both its book and movie form by A. The amazing part is that A, who is petrified of spiders in real life, and won't ever open a book to a page where there is a picture of a spider (some Ranjit Lal books, encyclopaedias, are prime suspects), had no such problem with this book.

  2. As already mentioned, a wonderful review. I have watched the movie and loved it. Now have to find a copy of it. :)

  3. A very nice book review of a very interesting book. We can't even imagine what the authors like E.B White could imagine and put together their imagination in such a perfect story. It's just amazing to read how such a small thing could be so helpful! This book certainly gives a message of true friendship!

  4. Sandhya ~ Thanks. Really a lovely book which every child must read atleast once.

    P ~ Haven't watched the movie but would love to watch it.

    Abha ~ Thanks to you for this lovely gift.

  5. I loved this book as a child. I agree it's a truly beautiful story of friendship. Great review!


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