Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White
Author: Melissa Sweet
Published: October 2016 | HMH Books for Young Readers
Length: 176 pages
I never read E.B. White when I was young because I cried watching the movie of Charlotte’s Web and ran from sadness. I wish I had had the courage to accept sadness as part of the beauty of life, and I’m glad I have read E.B. White now. He is known as a wordsmith like no other, using one choice phrase to paint whole, vivid pictures. His works are fantastical, blending the impossible with the ordinary so smoothly that we might easily believe he paints the real world while we are the ones dreaming. Most importantly, he does what C.S. Lewis said the best books should do: make goodness attractive. His characters may not aggrandize wealth or change the world, but they are rich in kindness, brave in friendship, and they transform homesteads and barns into places of hope and joy.
This is the E.B. White that Caldecott award winning artist Melissa Sweet renders for us in all her artistic glory. She weaves the story of White’s life with enough details to make you feel his peculiarities as you would a friend, and enough broad strokes to understand his triumphs and struggles, who he was as a husband and father, and his vision for what a good life looks like. This vision clearly comes out in his stories: an appreciation for the miracles of nature, and a reverence for life; a passion to tell straight what bubbles out of ones heart, without trying to please the crowds.
Some Writer! includes several chapters revealing White’s beginnings as a writer, and then a chapter is given to each of his novels and his other major works. The last couple chapters wrap up his passing and legacy. The back of the book includes two types of bibliographies: one alphabetical, and one chronological. There is also a list of other books about E.B. White.
Perfectly complimenting this tale of a life, Sweet puts her paint brush to use making the reader experience the story beyond what words can describe. She creates a sort of scrap-booked kaleidoscope–something to linger over, revel in, re-read, or just look at pictures without reading. You can spend 1 minute or 10 on each page, hunting for details in the multiple formats in which Sweet introduces the reader to her subject. There are numerous photographs, illustrations from the original books, letter excerpts, draft excerpts, and of course her own detailed illustrations. Melissa Sweet gives the reader the opportunity to jump into White’s world, a world that has so many connections to his stories.
Given the stamp of authenticity by White’s grand-daughter Martha White, this is a happy, lovely read that will make you enjoy the stories of E.B. White even more, and appreciate the man behind them.
ARC courtesy of HMH Kids