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The Story of Charlotte's Web by Michael Sims

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Has anybody else read this one? Did you like it as much as I did? I think it would make a perfect gift for all those writer friends who already own all the good books on craft. It starts out as a biography of E.B. White, but even the biographical sections are slanted toward showing what led up to White's writing of Charlotte's Web. If you read nothing else in the book, Part III is wonderful because Sims takes readers through White's research into spiders (he already knew all about pigs) and shows, in the kinds of notes White was scribbling down, what sorts of things he was thinking about. He didn't start with a plot in mind; instead, he had some vague notions of writing a book about a pig and a spider. Then Sims takes us through the drafting of the book (that famous first line was a long time coming). There's a wonderful chapter on the illustrations, too. You don't have to love Charlotte's Web to learn a lot about writing from this book (but really, is there anybody who doesn't love CW?). And even though a lot of this material is available in E.B. White's collected letters and in Leonard Marcus's Dear Genius, it's great to have all this information collected coherently this way.

N.B. You really need a copy of the novel by your side when you read Sims' book, especially when he discusses illustrations.
#1 - July 13, 2011, 04:09 PM

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I can't wait to read this.  I read Dear Genius, and loved it!
#2 - July 13, 2011, 09:23 PM

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That does sound good!

I have read the annotated Charlotte's Web which is so wonderfully chock full of the same kind of information you described but it's all written in footnote form, so you get the information on E.B. White's research and his ideology while you read the story. I loved it! I learned so much from reading it.

But I'd also enjoy reading the same information organized in a different way.
#3 - July 14, 2011, 08:58 AM
THE SECRET OF FERRELL SAVAGE
Atheneum (Simon & Schuster) February, 2014

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Well, I loved both DEAR GENIUS and THE ANNOTATED CHARLOTTE'S WEB (taught Charlotte's Web in a course last semester), so this book looks like it hits the sweet spot for me!

:)
#4 - July 14, 2011, 01:31 PM
THE CABINET OF EARTHS -- HarperCollins, 2012
A BOX OF GARGOYLES -- HC, 2013
THE WRINKLED CROWN -- HC, 2015
www.annenesbet.com

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THE ANNOTATED CW is one of Sims' sources. I've never looked at it, but because of Sims' book and the comments here, I'm definitely going to now. Anne, there is a lot of stuff in Sims that would be great to incorporate into a class discussion of CW (although maybe it's also in THE ANNOTATED CW---I'll know soon!).
#5 - July 15, 2011, 07:29 AM

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