This weekend Hazel and I went to the local music theater to see a production of Charlotte's Web. Now I have fond memories of the book and story from growing up, but I haven't read it (or seen the movie) since I was a child. In preparation of the show, I took the book out of the library. I also found the picture book, Some Pig by E.B. White at the library.
We started with the picture book, but I was disappointed that it really only told the story of the first chapter. Charlotte was not introduced in it at all. So then we started reading the original Charlotte's Web. We would read a chapter or two a night. Hazel really enjoyed this. I also wanted to prepare her for the ending with Charlotte dying. I must admit at first Hazel had trouble keeping the characters straight, especially only reading a chapter a night. But at the end she knew who was who by name. We finished reading the book last Monday night. We went to the show on Saturday.
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Now my favorite part of this story is the friendship. There are so many wonderful messages throughout this story. First there is the message when Fern asks her father how it is fair to kill the pig just because it was born small.
"'But it's unfair,' cried Fern. 'The pig couldn't help being born small, could it? If I had been very small at birth would you have killed me?'"Such a wonderful message about nature and God's creatures without the religious part even being mentioned. For those that do not know the story, her father let's her keep the runt of the litter and she names him Wilbur. Well, Wilbur grows quickly under Fern's care and eventually her father says it is time to sell him. He decides she can offer him to her uncle who lives down the street for $6 and that way she can visit Wilbur any time she wants. So Wilbur moves to the Zuckerman's farm and lives in the barn cellar.
Around the barn cellar are the sheep who do not want much to do with a pig, a rat named Templeton and a goose who is sitting on her eggs waiting for them to hatch. Wilbur is looking for someone to play with him like Fern always did. Then he hears a voice saying she will be his friend. Wilbur does not see who is talking since it is night time, but is happy to have a friend. The next morning he discovers his new friend is a spider who eats flies or rather drinks their blood and is named Charlotte. This disgusts him a bit, but a friend is a friend and he was desperate.
The sheep and rat tell Wilbur that the people are fattening him up so they can kill him for meat. He becomes distressed. Charlotte promises him that she will find a way for him not to be killed. She finally thinks of one and begins writing messages in her web. The messages are "Some Pig", "Terrific", "Radiant" and "Humble." The Zuckermans become famous for having a pig so special that there are words in a spider web. They enter him in the county fair and decide if he wins he will not be killed. At this point Charlotte is becoming very weary and needs to lay her eggs before she dies, but she goes with him to the fair and writes "Humble" in her web there. He does not win the first prize but gets a special ribbon that is even better. Therefore, he is saved. This is when he discovers Charlotte will not be returning to the farm with him since she will die in a matter of days. He takes her egg sac home with him with the help of Templeton.
Now my favorite quote of the story is Charlotte's response to Wilbur's question of why she wrote the messages in his web.
"'You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte. 'That is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you.'"
With this story being about friendship, it seemed only fitting that we saw Hazel's best friend at the theater after the show. They played for a bit outside on the big rock by the entrance. Hazel posed by the crocuses while he was on the rock (sorry I won't show you his face). I actually got some really cute ones of them both on the rock.
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As you can imagine we are thinking a lot about spiders and pigs now. I would expect you may see some crafts along those lines soon. We have already taken some books out on spiders so we can learn more about them and why Charlotte had to die. I also started a Charlotte's Web Pinterest Board if you want to see some ideas. Our favorite character in the show was Charlotte. I may have convinced Hazel to be Charlotte for Halloween. We will see if she wants to closer to the time.
I also made her a Match Game to go with the book. Here is a copy of it if you want it.