Friday, May 26, 2006

"Some Pig!"

We've been reading Charlotte's Web during family reading time. We started reading longer (older) books with the Booper as part of family reading when she was about two. Too much busyness with D's and my jobs and schedules, plus Boop's own sudden squirmy attention span during longer books this past winter, meant that we dropped the practice for awhile. I'm happy that we're reinstituting it now, with summer coming on. Thus far, we've mostly been reading on preschool mornings in the car on the way to school (partly to divert her attention from the stress she's been feeling about school) but soon we'll need to come up with a new time when we can all read together.

Anyway, she's really liking this lovely book by E.B. White -- a favorite from my own childhood. And I'm so glad! Earlier this afternoon, she was trundling around the house with her little painted wooden pig magnet (from a set of animal magnets Aunt Martha gave her last year) and delighted me by calling him Wilbur. She fed Wilbur a snack and even gave him a quick bath in the sink when she was supposed to be washing her hands. She likes to say "the pig's ears turned pink in the sun" which is an echo of a line we read the other day. And she's excitedly looking forward to the end of the book, when they go to a fair...I told her that was coming, knowing she'd be excited since we went to a fair just last weekend (where Booper got her first -- and second! -- pony ride!)

If you've never read Lauren Winner's lovely tribute to the genius of Charlotte's Web, you can check it out here at It not only includes fascinating biographical information about E.B. White and the many drafts he went through before coming up with that wonderful opening line "Where's Papa going with that ax?" but some very thoughtful stuff on the importance of community in writing, loving and living.

On my own, I've also been reading some James Herriot stories again -- for the first time in many years. I picked up a beautiful hardback copy of his Animal Stories several months ago at a used book sale. It looked like it had never been read, and his stories are so worth reading. Just opening the covers and moving back into the rural world of the beloved Yorkshire vet gave me a deep feeling of satisfaction, returning to a place I'd always enjoyed visiting but hadn't been to in a long time. Some of my most pleasurable reading moments as an adolescent were spent in Herriot's company; he writes beautiful prose out of years of keen observations of people and animals. If you know a child who loves animals but is ready to move on from Charlotte's Web (although of course CW is a book the child will go back to again and again!) then Herriot just might be an author to recommend.


Erin said...

"Charlotte's Web" has always been one of my absolute favorites. It was the second longish book I ever read, after "The Velveteen Rabbit." So gorgeous in so many ways... I love the ending line as well. So simple, but such a beautiful tribute.

As for James Herriot, I discovered him in middle school and devoured his books. And developed an insatiable desire to go to Yorkshire... *sigh*

Beth said...

Ah, yes. Me too. An insatiable desire to go to Yorkshire, that is. :-)

We finished Charlotte's Web yesterday and my little one cried because she didn't want it to be over. I don't blame her, I didn't want it to be either. :-) And yes, the ending line is as good, if not better, than the first. I almost can't read it without tears. So lovely.