It was on this date in 1952 that E B White's novel, Charlotte's Web was published. When it was published, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Eudora Welty said:
The book has liveliness and felicity, tenderness and unexpectedness, grace and humour and praise of life, and the good backbone of succinctness that only the most highly imaginative stories seem to grow... 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.
The novel tells the story of a spring pig, Wilbur, who has a sweet nature and trusting manner, and his friendship with Charlotte A. Cavitica, a large gray spider who likes to drink blood. The story opens with one of the most famous opening lines in children's liteature: "'Where's Papa going with that axe?'" A line that grabs the reader's attention (as of course is intended) and refuses to let go until the end of the tale is reached. I read this book only a few years ago, as part of the background reading I did for my first ever Harry Potter paper; I had more or less stopped reading children's books by the time I was in my early teens, largely because books for Young Adults didn't really exist, so I moved onto books for adults. When I read Charlotte's Web, I was charmed, moved and delighted by its tale of friendship and intelligence.
There's also a Charlotte's Web film which was made in the 1970s available, but I've not seen it, and a newer version has been made which includes the following stunning cast:
Dakota Fanning - Fern
Julia Roberts - Charlotte (voice)
Oprah Winfrey - Gussy (voice)
Steve Buscemi - Templeton (voice)
Kathy Bates - Bitsy (voice)
John Cleese - Samuel (voice)
Thomas Haden Church - Brooks (voice)
Robert Redford - Ike (voice)
Jennifer Garner - Susy (voice)
I rather think I'll be watching this one, either at the cinema or on DVD in due course !
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I'm off to Gloucestershire for a long weekend with my parents and brother tomorrow, leaving straight after work, so don't expect to hear from me tomorrow.