The Story of Charlotte's Web by Michael Sims

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Synopsis

While composing what would become his most enduring and popular book, E. B. White obeyed 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 as a child and adult. Painfully shy, "this boy," White once wrote of himself, "felt for animals a kinship he never felt for people." It's all the more impressive, therefore, how many people have felt a kinship with E. B. White.

Michael Sims chronicles White's animal-rich childhood, his writing about urban nature for the New Yorker, his scientific research into how spiders spin webs and lay eggs, his friendship with his legendary editor, Ursula Nordstrom, the composition and publication of his masterpiece, and his ongoing quest to recapture an enchanted childhood.
 

About Michael Sims

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Michael Sims is the author of acclaimed nonfiction books such as Apollo’s Fire and Adam’s Navel, and the editor of anthologies including The Dead Witness and Dracula’s Guest, connoisseurs’ collections of Victorian detective and vampire stories, respectively. He lives near Pittsburgh.
 
Published June 7, 2011 by Walker Books. 321 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Story of Charlotte's Web

Kirkus Reviews

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An affectionate biography examines the birth of an American classic.

May 24 2011 | Read Full Review of The Story of Charlotte's Web

Publishers Weekly

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In this spry biography of Elwyn Brooks White (1899-1985), Sims (Apollo's Fire) immerses himself in White's oeuvre and channels his lucid prose style. Juxtaposing details from White's essays and letter

Aug 01 2011 | Read Full Review of The Story of Charlotte's Web

The Guardian

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Sims's objective is to get to the big house with 40 acres on the coast of Maine that White and Angell buy together in 1933, and where he eventually settles down to write the work for which he became famous.There is, of course, much more to White than his goose-feather children's stories – Stuart ...

Aug 03 2011 | Read Full Review of The Story of Charlotte's Web

The Wall Street Journal

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As Mr. Sims details, White spent a full year learning about the various species of spiders, their feeding habits and what kinds of lines they spin so that he could write "Charlotte's Web" with the honesty the spider deserved.

Jun 11 2011 | Read Full Review of The Story of Charlotte's Web

The Wall Street Journal

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As Mr. Sims details, White spent a full year learning about the various species of spiders, their feeding habits and what kinds of lines they spin so that he could write "Charlotte's Web" with the honesty the spider deserved.

Jun 11 2011 | Read Full Review of The Story of Charlotte's Web

The Washington Times

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Readers looking here for insights into how E.B. "Andy" White created his classic children's book "Charlotte's Web" will first have to plow through (or skim) 11 chapters of Michael Sims' ruminations on White's youth, farm life in Maine, city life in New York and the like - but the latter part of t...

Aug 12 2011 | Read Full Review of The Story of Charlotte's Web

Los Angeles Times

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Author Michael Sims shares the back story on the writing of E.B. White's beloved children's tale of a beloved spider and a guileless pig.

Jul 15 2011 | Read Full Review of The Story of Charlotte's Web

BookPage

Sims deftly handles the writing and publication of Charlotte’s Web, building thumbnail portraits of the legendary children’s book editor Ursula Nordstrom and illustrator Garth Williams.

Jun 14 2011 | Read Full Review of The Story of Charlotte's Web

Lincoln Journal Star

And, to this reviewer, the best essay Andy White ever wrote.

Aug 11 2011 | Read Full Review of The Story of Charlotte's Web

Scotsman.com

This bald list of ingredients makes Charlotte's Web sound mundane, but from its exciting opening line, "Where's Papa going with that axe?", EB White's tale of barnyard life sucks readers in as nimbly - and irrevocably - as a spider's filaments do flies.

Jan 08 2011 | Read Full Review of The Story of Charlotte's Web

Bookmarks Magazine

White out there: this "microbiography" deals only with a few aspects of White's life and career.

Jun 21 2011 | Read Full Review of The Story of Charlotte's Web

Chicago Sun Times

It is not surprising to learn, then, that in writing about animals (and spiders) in what has become his most popular book, Charlotte’s Web, he was to a large extent writing about himself.

Jun 18 2011 | Read Full Review of The Story of Charlotte's Web

Reader Rating for The Story of Charlotte's Web
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