In honor of the Pittsburgh stage production appearing at the Pittsburgh International Children’s Theater January 8-15, this week’s book selection is none other than the classic E.B. White tale, Charlotte’s Web (current edition HarperCollins, 2004).
This timeless story of the affectionate Wilbur the pig, who strikes a friendship with Charlotte, the spider whose web is located above his pen is for readers aged eight and up, but has taken its place in literature’s best books for children.
With illustrations by Garth Williams, Charlotte’s Web opens with an eight-year- old farm girl named Fern Arable who tries to stop father from killing a piglet who has been labeled the runt of the litter. Fern names the saved piglet Wilbur.
As Wilbur grows larger, Fern’s father forbids him to sleep in the house any longer. She is forced to sell Wilbur to her Uncle Homer, and when Fern discovers Uncle Homer plans to fatten her beloved friend for slaughter, she becomes quite upset
In the barn, Wilbur meets a cast of animal characters, all who can speak with Wilbur, but have no idea how to spare Wilbur’s life when he asks them for help….except for one intelligent and resourceful spider.
Charlotte spells words and phrases such as “Some Pig” and “Terrific” in her webs, which draws attention of the county. Many become interested in visiting Wilbur, leaving Uncle Homer to spare the little pig’s life after all.
A blend of humor and drama, Charlotte’s Web speaks of strong compassion and friendship. Whether anyone has seen the stage show or even the 2006 film, Charlotte’s Web is a book that should be on every child’s shelf and passed down through each generation.