Some Writer: The Story of E.B. White, written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet
published in 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
E.B. White. His name instantly evokes a response of warmth and nostalgia; of miracles and true friends; of a loquacious cob and his atypical, trumpet-playing son; of so many enthralling moments, lost in story.
I don’t have many distinct elementary school memories, but one that stands out is my third-grade teacher reading Charlotte’s Web to us. How many thousands of children have that shared experience?
A few years ago, I was chatting with a young married couple who were exploring children’s literature in anticipation of their firstborn. They were reading Charlotte’s Web aloud to one another, dumbfounded by the depth, poignancy, and truth in this small novel.
Who was E.B. White?
What kind of childhood did he have?
Where did his bucolic scenes of farm life come from, his genuinely amusing characters, as well as those honestly mourning over loss?
How did he get started writing and who helped shape his style?
Melissa Sweet has written a fascinating account of White filling in for us the background of this beloved writer and the stories we love. It’s absolutely crammed with the beauty, wonder, color, and whimsy of everything Sweet puts her hand to.
Quotes and excerpts from letters and essays, old family photos, marked-up and crossed-out early versions of manuscripts — all that is here. Add the choice bits of ephemera, singing colors, vintage papers, charming hand-lettering and a bit of old Corona typewriting, all spun together with Sweet’s remarkable savvy for composition — what you get is a feast for the eyes as well as the mind.
This is not a picture book. That is coming in the Fall of 2017 by the ace team of Barbara Herkert and Lauren Castillo and I cannot wait!
Sneak peek of some of Lauren Castillo’s artwork for A Boy, A Mouse, and a Spider!
No, this is a meaty biography that adults will thoroughly enjoy as well as would-be authors ages perhaps 11 and up.
If you’ve not read White’s books for yourself, now is the time to do so. Begin with Charlotte’s Web, and no it doesn’t count if you’ve watched the movie. Then check out The Trumpet of the Swan. My least favorite of his trio is Stuart Little — it seems to be a book people either love or really dislike, so tackle that one last. Once you’re enamored with White’s storytelling and wordsmithing, join the rest of us in Melissa Sweet’s lovely biography.
Here’s the Amazon link: Some Writer