When I heard about this week's topic, yet again I was stumped. I loved illustrated books when I was a kid, still do. Now as an aunt I get to pick books for my niece and nephews, although the older ones are now into chapter books. I gave a Madeline book to a friend's daughter and afterwards she immediately wanted a little dog named Genevieve like Madeline. The child has taste. Yet I remembered one of the first chapter books I read years ago where I fell in love with the drawings. And it's celebrating its 60th this year. Yet it's still looking good for sixty.
Charlotte's Web was around for years when I picked it up. The story is familar to all: Fern the young girl who finds out that her father is going to kill the runt of the litter stops him and nurses Wilbur on her own. There's an image of Fern bottle feeding Wilbur that is so lovely, so sweet.
But Wilbur cannot stay with the Arables, so even though it breaks Fern's heart, he goes off to a nearby farm. All alone, he starts to cry. But then he hears a voice promising him that he does have a friend. Who could it be? Why it's Charlotte of course!
Through Garth Williams' drawings we see Charlotte and Wilbur's friendship blossom. In order to save Wilbur from the slaughterhouse, Charlotte writes messasges on her web like "Radiant" "Some pig!" Long before affirmations, Charlotte could make someone feel good.
Williams by then was a well known illustrator for his work on EB White's Stuart Little, and of course The Little House books. When the Little House books came out with new covers last year it felt so wrong. Okay these model kids were cute and everything, but what about Laura's messed up brown hair? Or Mary and Laura looking so sad when they go off in the wagon to parts unknown?
But anytime I mention Garth Williams to friends,then I show them the cover of Charlotte's Web, they will instantly say "Oh! It's the Charlotte's Web guy!" And when you think about it, it's a lovely legacy to have.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries