Synopses & Reviews
A letter from Mr. White, which he wrote before his death, about his three books for children: Dear Reader:
I receive many letters from children and can t answer them all there wouldn t be time enough in a day. That is why I am sending you this printed reply to your letter. I ll try to answer some of the questions that are commonly asked.
Where did I get the idea for "Stuart Little and for "Charlotte s Web? Well, many years ago I went to bed one night in a railway sleeping car, and during the night I dreamed about a tiny boy who acted rather like a mouse. That s how the story of "Stuart Little got started.
As for "Charlotte s Web, I like animals and my barn is a very pleasant place to be, at all hours. One day when I was on my way to feed the pig, I began feeling sorry for the pig because, like most pigs, he was doomed to die. This made me sad. So I started thinking of ways to save a pig s life. I had been watching a big grey spider at her work and was impressed by how clever she was at weaving. Gradually I worked the spider into the story that you know, a story of friendship and salvation on a farm. Three years after I started writing it, it was published. (I am not a fast worker, as you can see.)
I don t now how or when the idea for "The Trumpet of the Swan occurred to me. I guess I must have wondered what it would be like to be a Trumpeter Swan and not be able to make a noise.
Sometimes I m asked how old I was when I started to write, and what made me want to write. I started early as soon as I could spell. In fact, I can t remember any time in my life when I wasn t busy writing. Idon t know what caused me to do it, or why I enjoyed it, but I think children often find pleasure and satisfaction is trying to set their thoughts down on paper, either in words or in pictures. I was no good at drawing, so I used words instead. As I grew older, I found that writing can be a way of earning a living.
Are my stories true, you ask? No, they are imaginary tales, containing fantastic characters and events. In "real life, a family doesn t have a child who looks like a mouse; in "real life, a spider doesn t spin words in her web. In "real life, a swan doesn t blow a trumpet. But "real life is only one kind of life there is also the life of the imagination. And although my stories are imaginary, I like to think that there is some truth in them, too truth about the way people and animals feel and think and act.
This favorite classic is now available in a larger, easy-to-read format.
Stuart Little is no ordinary mouse. Born to a family of humans, he lives in New York City with his parents, his older brother George, and Snowbell the cat. Though he's shy and thoughtful, he's also a true lover of adventure.
Stuart's greatest adventure comes when his best friend, a beautiful little bird named Margalo, disappears from her nest. Determined to track her down, Stuart ventures away from home for the very first time in his life. He finds adventure aplenty. But will he find his friend?
About the Author
E.B. White, the author of twenty books of prose and poetry, was awarded the 1970 Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for his children?s books, Stuart Little
and Charlotte?s Web.
This award is now given every three years "to an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have, over a period of years, make a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children." The year 1970 also marked the publication of Mr. White?s third book for children, The Trumpet of the Swan,
honored by The International Board on Books for Young People as an outstanding example of literature with international importance. In 1973, it received the Sequoyah Award (Oklahoma) and the William Allen White Award (Kansas), voted by the school children of those states as their "favorite book" of the year.
Born in Mount Vernon, New York, Mr. White attended public schools there. He was graduated from Cornell University in 1921, worked in New York for a year, then traveled about. After five or six years of trying many sorts of jobs, he joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine, then in its infancy. The connection proved a happy one and resulted in a steady output of satirical sketches, poems, essays, and editorials. His essays have also appeared in Harper?s Magazine, and his books include One Man?s Meat, The Second Tree from the Corner, Letters of E.B. White, The Essays of E.B. White and Poems and Sketches of E.B. White.
In 1938 Mr. White moved to the country. On his farm in Maine he kept animals, and some of these creatures got into his stories and books. Mr. White said he found writing difficult and bad for one?s disposition, but he kept at it. He began Stuart Little in the hope of amusing a six-year-old niece of his, but before he finished it, she had grown up.
For his total contribution to American letters, Mr. White was awarded the 1971 National Medal for Literature. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy named Mr. White as one of thirty-one Americans to receive the Presidential Medal for Freedom. Mr. White also received the National Institute of Arts and Letters? Gold Medal for Essays and Criticism, and in 1973 the members of the Institute elected him to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a society of fifty members. He also received honorary degrees from seven colleges and universities. Mr. White died on October 1, 1985.