I am reading Charlotte’s Web, the classic E. B. White children’s novel, to my kids for about the 10th time. I don’t know if it is the 10th time or not. After about four readings I lost track. Let’s just say it is as familiar to me now as any book I have ever read.
I mention this book today because tomorrow, September 7, is a significant day in the story. It is the day when Wilbur wins his medal, when he cajoles and bargains with Templeton to save Charlotte’s egg sac, and he leaves Charlotte alone, at the Fair, where she will die.
The book is 60 years old, the best-selling children’s book of all time (according to Wikipedia), and though I have now read it more times than I can keep track of, I do not tire of it. Garth Williams’ illustrations still amuse and enlighten. White’s prose still sparkles. I still cry at the end, which my children did not understand the first few times but they do now. Malcolm swears off bacon for a few weeks after each reading.
So I hereby declare September 7 to be Charlotte’s Web Day.
Here are some quotes I love.
“What does ‘gullible’ mean?”
“Easy to fool,” said Charlotte.
“That’s a mercy,” replied Wilbur, and he lay down in the shade of his fence and went fast asleep.
“Yes,” replied the doctor.
“Well, do you understand it?” asked Mrs. Arable.
“Do you understand how there could be any writing in a spider’s web?”
“Oh, no,” said Dr. Dorian. “I don’t understand it. But for that matter I don’t understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place. When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle.”
As my friend Eric likes to quote:
Here’s to you, Charlotte.