Thursday, April 02, 2009

Chapter Book

I try to get my kids to read the book (or have the book read to them) before they see the movie. With most of the classics, I think we've done pretty well, but somehow Maia saw "Charlotte's Web" somewhere before she had read it. I pulled out the book the other night to start reading it to her, and she told me how she had seen the movie.

"Well, we'll read the book, and you can see how the book and the movie are different," I said.

I'm not against books being made into movies. I am a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings movies because for some reason I have trouble making big epics fit in my head. With all the traveling the fellowship does, it's difficult for me, when I read it, to get the lay of the land straight and to figure out where everyone is going. The movie helped me a lot with that. Plus, it was awesome! But I still think that generally you should read the book first, if it came first. Especially with children's books. With something like "The Godfather," I don't think it matters.

Anyway. We started reading "Charlotte's Web" the other night and every once in awhile she says "I remember that from the movie!" or "I know what happens next!" I don't want to make it a huge moral thing that I think books are better than movies, but on the other hand, I think books are better than movies. So I acknowledge her quietly and read on. I'm hoping I can get through it without crying.

Last night we got to the chapter "Wilbur's Boast," which is the first time Charlotte sticks up for Wilber to one of the snotty little lambs that's always insulting him. She reassures him that he will not be murdered for the sake of Christmas ham and that she will save him. She gives him some bedtime guidance on what he should do from now on -- the duties of a pig, essentially, which are to eat a lot and not fuss around -- while she thinks about how she will go about preventing his death. It is a beautiful, quiet scene, lovingly written and full of patient details. Wilber beds down, then says he remembers a bit of potato in his trough. Charlotte gives him leave to get up and eat it.

He found a bit of potato, chewed it carefully, swallowed it, and walked back to bed. He closed his eyes and was silent for awhile.

"Charlotte?" he said, in a whisper.


"May I get a drink of milk? I think there are a few drops of milk left in my trough."

"No, the trough is dry, and I want you to go to sleep. No more talking! Close your eyes and go to sleep!"

Wilber shut his eyes. Fern got up from her stool and started for home, her mind full of everything she had seen and heard.

"Good night, Charlotte!" said Wilbur.

"Good night, Wilbur!"

There was a pause.

"Good night, Charlotte!"

"Good night, Wilbur!"

"Good night!"

"Good night!"

Maia was cuddled under my arm, reading along with me. We were quiet a minute, and then she said, "Charlotte is just like a mama to Wilbur, because he doesn't have one and she can be one for him."

I gave her a squeeze and kissed the top of her head. Maybe she thought of that when she watched the movie. But at the white page at the end of a chapter, she had the time to share it.


  1. 1.) I had a pre-adolescent crush on Fern as depicted on the cover of our copy of "Charlotte's Web."

    2.) The only movie that is better than the book is "The Firm," and it's better by a wide margin.

  2. I think "Field of Dreams" falls into the category as well. There's a lot that goes on in the book that the movie edits out quite nicely.

    That cracks me up about your Fern-crush.