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This is a book about the author of a book I loved Charlotte s Web It is about how that book I loved came to be It is not written with the charm nor the humor of that original book Sims book is interesting It tells not only of E.B White s career he worked for many years at The New Yorker The story is filled out with information about prominent children s authors and illustrators during the first half of the 20th Century If that is what you are looking for you may appreciate this book than I did Parts are flat, boring and stuffed with irrelevant details Neither did I love the narration by Nick Sullivan The book doesn t pull you in, doesn t engage you or make you care in the slightest for any of the characters It reads like a dry text book.but sure there are interesting facts. This is a sweet book I thought that if I was E.B White s wife he wrote me a letter from the dog s perspective to tell me that he was happy I was pregnant because he was too shy to tell me himself, I might be angry, but I guess if I was E.B White s wife that wouldn t be unexpected behavior I didn t realise what a lovely poet he was Look for me to be reading Charlotte s Web on my lunch break. I was a few months old when E B White s classic children s book Charlotte s Web was published My First Grade teacher read the book aloud to my class As a girl, I read it many times, and when our son was born I read it to him as well And the older I become the I realize the impact the story had on my life.Knowing my esteem for the book, my son gifted me Michael s Sims book Charlotte s Web E B White s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic for Christmas It was a lovely read, entertaining and enlightening.White had a love of nature and animals As a child, his family spent their summers in Maine, and in spite of his allergies, it was the highlight of the year As an adult, he and his wife Katherine purchased a farm in Maine with a view of Mount Cadalliac on Mt Desert Isle across the water My husband and I spent many summers camping at Acadia National Park It is a beautiful area.White admired the popular columnist Don Marquis who created the characters Archy a cockroach and Mehitible a cat White liked how Marquis kept his animal characters true to their nature while using them for social satire Archy inspired the character of Charlotte.I was a teen when I discovered Marquis on a friend s parent s bookshelf I borrowed the book and later bought my own copy.White s first children s book was the best selling Stuart Little, illustrated by Garth Williams who was just beginning his career Williams was established by the time he contributed his art to Charlotte s Web He created beloved illustrations for Little Golden Books and authors like Margaret Wise Brown and Laura Ingalls Wilder.I enjoyed the details about White s writing process He worked on the novel over a long period, carefully considering every aspect, even setting it aside for a year He researched spiders in detail He sketched his farm as a model He thought carefully about what words Charlotte would spin into her web White hated rats, and kept Templeton s nature intact without a personality change Fern was a later addition.Sims reproduces the text from the manuscripts with White s editing I am always fascinated by seeing an author s edits and the development of a story.White s name was also well known to me as it appears on The Elements of Style, which started as a pamphlet written by White s professor Strunk White s wife Katherine wrote a column on gardening, Onward and Upward in the Garden, which was published in a book form after her death and which I had read upon its publication Worth reading for the descriptions of White s careful research and his early drafts alone, although a lot of the book captures that kind of tremulous, not sad but lump in the throat feeling I especially associate with the end of Trumpet of the Swan On the pond where the swans were, Louis put his trumpet away The cygnets crept under their mother s wings Darkness settled on woods and fields and marsh A loon called its wild night cry As Louis relaxed and prepared for sleep, all his thoughts were of how lucky he was to inhabit such a beautiful earth, how lucky he had been to solve his problems with music, and how pleasant it was to look forward to another night of sleep and another day tomorrow, and the fresh morning, and the light that returns with the day.Or as another nature poet put it Thus sang the uncouth Swain to th Okes and rills,While the still morn went out with Sandals gray,He touch d the tender stops of various Quills,With eager thought warbling his Dorick lay And now the Sun had stretch d out all the hills,And now was dropt into the Western bay At last he rose, and twitch d his Mantle blew To morrow to fresh Woods, and Pastures new. Anyone who is a fan of E B White s Charlotte s Web or who is interested in the writing process will find the long, detailed sections describing its creation fascinating While I usually enjoy learning about the inspiration behind works of literature this account had too much minutiae for me There were other parts of the book, however, that I found a lot engrossing I loved reading about life in the northeastern US during the early years of the last century, when automobiles were replacing horse drawn vehicles and White s father proudly bought a car but never learned to drive it, when a fancy teenage date meant an afternoon of tea, cinnamon toast and dancing at the Plaza Hotel, and when people flocked to the new Childs restaurants because they were inexpensive, fast and, at a time when people were newly afraid of germs, gleamingly clean It was also a revelation to read about the early days of The New Yorker from E.B White s quiet, quirky perspective most of the other accounts I ve come across have been in books about the rowdy members of the Algonquin Round Table. I tried to grit my teeth and get through this thing, but gave up on page 77 thru 78 where it took Michael Sims 4 paragraphs to tell us Mr White had picked up the first issue of The New Yorker at Grand Central Station on his way to work Dear Mr Sims, E.B White co authored a work of non fiction with William Strunk, Jr called The Elements of Style for writers It s all of 89 pages and well worth your time. |Pdf ♵ The Story of Charlottes Web ⚖ As He Was Composing What Was To Become His Most Enduring And Popular Book, E B White Was Obeying That Oft Repeated Maxim Write What You Know Helpless Pigs, Silly Geese, Clever Spiders, Greedy Rats White Knew All Of These Characters In The Barns And Stables Where He Spent His Favorite Hours Painfully Shy His Entire Life, This Boy, White Once Wrote Of Himself, Felt For Animals A Kinship He Never Felt For People It S All The Impressive, Therefore, How Many People Have Felt A Kinship With E B White With Charlotte S Web, Which Has Gone On To Sell Than Million Copies, The Man William Shawn Called The Most Companionable Of Writers Lodged His Own Character, The Avuncular Author, Into The Hearts Of Generations Of ReadersIn The Story Of Charlotte S Web, Michael Sims Shows How White Solved What Critic Clifton Fadiman Once Called The Standing Problem Of The Juvenile Fantasy Writer How To Find, Not Another Alice, But Another Rabbit Hole By Mining The Raw Ore Of His Childhood Friendship With Animals In Mount Vernon, New York Translating His Own Passions And Contradictions, Delights And Fears, Into An All Time Classic Blending White S Correspondence With The Likes Of Ursula Nordstrom, James Thurber, And Harold Ross, The E B White Papers At Cornell, And The Archives Of Harper Collins And The New Yorker Into His Own Elegant Narrative, Sims Brings To Life The Shy Boy Whose Animal Stories Real And Imaginary Made Him Famous Around The World Biographies can be quite cut and dry and boring and read like a book of facts and figures rather than an intimate portrait With The Story of Charlotte s Web, it felt like I was reading a work of fiction filled with beautiful descriptive passages and an inviting, warm tone I really liked Michael Sims writing and am interested in reading by him now He pulled me into the story and I kept getting lost in White s world Sims takes the reader on a journey from E B White s beginnings as an awkward, curious boy named Elwyn who was fascinated but terrified of girls, and who found comfort and stability in the animals of his family s barn White grows up to be a still slightly self conscious but much confident man nicknamed Andy with a flourishing writing career and a loving family Throughout his life, he is always noticing and musing over animals everywhere he goes, even in the busy streets of New York City where pigeons assemble on sidewalks to preen and squabble I really liked this quote from White New York is part of the natural world I love the city, I love the country, and for the same reasons The city is part of the country People are animals, and the city is full of people in strange plumage, defending their territorial rights, digging for their supper.Sims extensive research is obvious in his detailed descriptions of all the locations where White lives at different stages of his life You can practically see and smell the barns where White loved to spend the majority of his time Sims also includes quotes and excerpts from various newspapers, magazines, and books that White submitted and sometimes got published, as well as incidents and anecdotes from his abundant journals and notes There are several black and white photos of Elwyn s boyhood home which is gorgeous in addition to his and his wife s Katharine s family home in Maine More pictures would ve been nice, especially of Elwyn as a boy and teenager, but I guess the one of the cover is sufficient it s very cute you gotta love those ears I learned a lot about E B White that I had never known I had no idea his family was so well off and that he lived such a privileged and comfortable life he always had at least a couple of servants around the house, even in the middle of the Depression Another tidbit is that Stuart Little was inspired by a dream White had about a mousy little boy, and it took him six years before he finally wrote it down as stories for his nieces and nephews and then allowed it to be sold as a book It was exciting reading how Charlotte s Web took form the way Sims describes White researching and pulling information together, it s like he was weaving his own little web It makes sense now that he would write so much and so lovingly about animals because he had a plethora of pets his whole life domestic and otherwise They made sense to him, and in times of confusion or unhappiness, they were always there for him If you ve ever read Charlotte s Web and treasured it, you ll almost certainly take pleasure in this inside look at E B White and his masterpiece. I gave this to my mom a retired elementary school teacher for Christmas, and she so dogged me to read it myself that I finally checked it out of the library to make her happy I especially enjoyed reading the beginning chapters recounting EB White s upper middle class childhood in early 1900 s Mt Vernon, NY His was a happy family, though he himself showed early signs of neurosis from the get go If you can be nostalgic for a period in which you never lived, then I was As I read these early chapters, I longed for his idyllic life, so close to nature, yet close enough to the big city that its marvels were accessible too The other aspect of the book I particularly enjoyed was the name dropping EB White s life intersecting with the famous journalists and writers of the thirties and forties Michael Sims writing is only serviceable, which made reading the book less enjoyable than I had hoped Maybe there just wasn t enough to EB White s life to make much of a story to tell Toward the end of the book, which focuses on his writing of Charlotte s Web, his illustrator, Garth Williams, comes into the story It made me think about all the other beloved books of my childhood that were illustrated by him, including Cricket in Times Square and the Little House series I Googled Garth That would make a cool title and looked at images of his illustrations What an experience that was Each little square resonated with my memory, as I am sure I probably held every single Golden Book and all the others in my hands at one time I really did feel some strange sense of time travel to my past, which produced a transcendent sense of connectedness I guess in the end I recommend this book for its evocativeness than anything else, and that may work mostly for people of a certain age. If you have never read anything about E.B White his collected letters, his essays,etc, you will get a pretty good view of the man here But if you have, most of the material Sims works with is stuff you already know.The two things I really enjoyed about this was the part that really was about what is in the title of this book, the Story of Charlotte s Web Lots of interesting details here And the end of the book, involving White s son Joel and a group of schoolchildren, is extremely moving I highly recommend that anyone who wants to learn a lot about White and his world read Letters of E.B.White and his essays in One Man s Meat This is a nice bio, but White is the better writer.