Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Fictional Food Adventure: Reading Charlotte''s Web by E.B. White

It's always a great pleasure to read Charlotte's web. 

My family thoroughly enjoyed an animated version of this once long ago and would often break into the catchy song about "Zuckerman's Famous Pig" sung by a barbershop quartet.  "Fine swine, wish he was mine ... Zuckerman's famous piiigg" was a refrain regularly echoed about our house for a while, and I know everyone would join in or smile if I sang it again now. You can listen to it right here if the mood takes you! (I know you will, Mum.)

I also fell in love with the more recent film adaptation starring a sweet young Dakota Fanning as Fern, and the warm voice of Julia Roberts as Charlotte. It's a wonderfully crafted film. It's so true to the book that you feel the pages have magically converted into a visual form. They manage to make Charlotte a convincingly realistic spider while also making her beautiful and loveable, (tricky for people, I believe.) Seeing her through Wilbur's adoring eyes, it was important they got that bit right. It's very beautifully filmed, believably and emotively acted, and is one of those precious films that you can savour in your heart because it's all so delicious. 

But getting back to the excellent book itself; as I said, it's always such a joy to read. Not only is it an enduring tale of true friendship, but it's a well-woven story full of brilliantly drawn characters and setting, and it's written gorgeously. The words wrap around you with their lyrical loveliness. E.B White has a way of making the mundane and ordinary into a rich tapestry of beauty to luxuriate in. His sentences are perfect and they wash over you effortlessly as you read. His simple eloquence is a joy to read, time and time again. I love the big old barn where all the animals live, and I love all the sights and smells and sounds of the farm. The relationship between Wilbur and Charlotte is so precious, but I also love the side story about Fern causing her mother concern by being so interested in animals. It's sweet watching nature taking its course in so many different ways, except the one in which Charlotte intervenes.  I've read Charlotte's Web countless times now, and it never fades. 

I urge you to read Charlotte's Web. And then, when you're sorry it's all over, grab the movie and enjoy it all again. 

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