Charlotte's Web

by E. B. White

Other authorsGarth Williams (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2012

Call number




HarperCollins (2006), Edition: Early, 192 pages


Wilbur, the pig, is desolate when he discovers that he is destined to be the farmer's Christmas dinner until his spider friend, Charlotte, decides to help him.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Cait86
Here is another children's classic that I missed as a child, though I was familiar with the story, having watched the movie many times. I am sure the plot is known to you all: a pig named Wilbur is worried that he is going to be Christmas dinner, and so his friend Charlotte the spider attempts to save his life by spinning words like "Some Pig" and "Terrific" into her web, which hangs over Wilbur's pen. Also in the barnyard are Fern, the little girl who cared for Wilbur when he was a baby; Templeton, a rat who loves to eat; a goose and gander who are awaiting the birth of their goslings; and various other animals.

The antics of the farm animals are the highlights of this sweet story. I loved the goose, who speaks fast and says everything three times, and Templeton, who is a very crafty rat. White includes many lessons for young readers, specifically the value of friendship. Charlotte's Web is touching, funny at times, and I am sure it would be a great favourite for children. Unlike some of the other children's books I have read lately, Charlotte's Web does not really examine deeper themes or ideas - it is just a book for kids. It was a cute way to spend two hours, but it is not something that I would read again.
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LibraryThing member ChiaraBeth
A masterpiece of children's literature. Few novels written for children stand the test of time like this one does, and I think it's largely thanks to White's simple, pure, and honest writing style. It is a story of friendship, not of a particular moment in time, and it is that friendship and its emotions that drive the story, rather than events. Having said that, the events that do happen are charming and full of importance, but they never interfere with what is at the heart of this story: the pure emotions of growth, whether that growth be of a pig, a spider, a little girl, or of a relationship that begins with a thread of trust and weaves into a beautiful web of affection.… (more)
LibraryThing member sirfurboy
I read this book when I was 7 or 8, and was loving it - until the extremely sad penultimate chapter, which reduced me to tears and I was unable to complete the book. My mother had to take me through the last chapter, but to me it did not make up for the sadness!

But that does not stop me rating it 5 stars. It was a wonderful book, beautifully written for children. It just won't leave those children entirely unmoved.

I think it was shortly after this I was allowed to have a guinea pig. My parents obviously thought I needed to learn some lessons about the circle of life!
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LibraryThing member Purr4kitty2003
Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White, is a book I was sure I had read, but could not remember when, so I read it. I have seen the movie a zillion times, but the book itself is so much sweeter. Wilbur, a young pig, is beloved of Fern, the little girl who saved him and kept him as a pet. When he gets to big, he goes to live on the farm of Fern’s Uncle, Farmer Zuckerman. After realizing what fate has in store for him, he panics. Charlotte, a lovely spider, rescues him with a gift for writing. Charlotte’s plan to save Wilber from becoming bacon is to write words in her web, describing Wilbur’s many wonderful traits. Of course, the Farmer Zuckerman thinks it is a miracle, as does everyone who sees the phenomenon. Wilber becomes famous. The dramatic plot twist happens at the fair, where Charlotte lays her eggs, and dies. Wilber is heartbroken, but forces Templeton to collect the egg sack of his beloved friend. Charlotte saved his life, and he returns the favor. When the eggs hatch, Wilber is over the moon, but all of the young spiders stay, except three. Wilbur and the spiders live together at the farm.
This is such a precious book, and even knowing what was going to happen, I still cried. There is just something about the characters, they way they tug on the heartstrings, that makes this one of the greatest books for children ever written. The reader feels Wilbur’s fear, and falls in love with Charlotte, a wonderful character who has no other reason to help this little pig than the sweetness and giving nature of her character. The story is completely a fantasy, and yet the reader is able to suspend his disbelief and walk right into the story. Perhaps it is the setting of the farm and all of the very average situations one would see on a farm.
The plot is brilliant and original, although it has been copied by “Babe” and “Gordy”. Charlotte’s Web is the original, and still a perfectly brilliant fable, with characters with whom the reader cannot help but fall in love.
The underlying message is about friendship, and what it means to be a truly good friend. Charlotte does what she can to save Wilbur. She has no reason to do it, except for friendship, and she does it even when it is going to hurt her. Wilbur returns the favor by caring for her babies. It is a truly beautiful story about love.
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LibraryThing member mybookshelf
Fern believes in justice. She can’t understand why her father would want to kill a newborn pig just because it is smaller than the rest. She adopts the runt to raise as her pet. When Wilbur (the pig) grows too big to be kept at home, he moves to Zuckerman’s farm. Here Wilbur makes many new friends, but is especially devoted to Charlotte, the spider, who alone can save Wilbur from a pig’s traditional unpleasant fate.

One of the highlights of this story is the characters. Mainly these are animals, but each has a distinctive personality type, and everyone is presented with good and bad points. For example, Fern is devoted to Wilbur, but her parents are concerned that she only talks to animals instead of playing with other children. Templeton, the rat, is selfish and greedy, but is still a part of the community, and, although he grumbles about it, he does do his part to help out with Charlotte’s plan to save Wilbur’s life. These different personalities, and their distinctive ways of expressing themselves, make the conversations between the animals in the barn a pleasure to read.

Despite an excellent story, there is much to be learned from this text. It promotes the discussion of ethics in a context that young readers can relate to - eating. There is a deliberate connection between Wilbur’s initial repulsion at the spider’s bloodthirstiness and the equally repellent idea that the humans would want to kill and eat a pig. Even Fern’s preliminary rescue of Wilbur from her father’s axe raises the question of ‘in what circumstances is death acceptable?’

In addition, the book drops in many examples of unusual vocabulary and carefully and memorably explains their usage. Charlotte is portrayed as very, very clever, while Wilbur says he’s “just about average for a pig”. So Charlotte often has to explain the words she uses to Wilbur, which is also very convenient for the reader!

One further appealing thing about this text: it is full of food. Wilbur, being a pig, is often preoccupied with his next meal, and Fern’s family always seem to be at the table. Perhaps the most memorable of the many descriptions of food and eating in the book are those of Templeton’s fantasy and its eventual realisation at the fair. Anyway, it’s a subject most children can’t get enough of, and the author has done well to weave it throughout his work.

I would recommend this classic book to all children, ideally around the same age as Fern, who is 8. It is equally satisfying when read independently, or a traditional favourite to be read aloud by parents or teachers. If reading Charlotte’s Web aloud, make sure your audience has a chance to enjoy Garth Williams’ delightful illustrations, too!
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LibraryThing member eekazimer
There is a timelessness about Charlotte’s Web, that come from the well developed friendship between characters such as Charlotte, Templeton and Wilbur. Each one has a unique way of thinking and speaking that even without dialogue tags a reader could tell them apart. Even though Wilbur loses his best friend, Charlotte the spider, White gently helps Wilbur and young readers through this loss. In the end, is story that celebrates life. “It was the best place to be, thought Wilbur, this warm delicious cellar, with the garrulous geese, the changing seasons, the heat of the sun, the passage of swallows, the nearness of rats, the sameness of sheep, the love of spiders, the smell of manure and the glory of everything.”… (more)
LibraryThing member cbl_tn
This classic children's story tells how Wilbur the pig's life was saved, not once, but twice. First 8-year-old Fern Arable convinces her father not to kill the runt of the litter. She is allowed to raise the pig until he's old enough to sell. Then Wilbur goes to live on her uncle's farm. The other animals in the barn warn Wilbur that the Zuckermans are just fattening him up for their holiday table. Wilbur's friend, Charlotte, a spider, comes up with a plan to save Wilbur's life.

I listened to an audio version recorded by the author. In his very brief introduction, he says that he wrote the story for his own pleasure. An afterword recorded by George Plimpton reveals just how much effort the author made to tell the story just right, revising the draft until it worked. Some writer! There are plenty of lessons in the story about life and death, friendship and responsibility. White doesn't make the mistake that many children's authors do by drawing attention to the morals/lesson, lest children miss the point. There are timeless lessons here for children of all ages, and the lessons will grow with children.
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LibraryThing member Esta1923
Not easy to "review" a book almost everyone has read/heard about! It deserves its classic status. (More recent books trying for its appeal do not come anywhere near.) That a spider and a pig can capture millions of hearts (over many years) is an endorsement. If, by chance, you have not yet read it, please don't delay. It is abook for all of us.… (more)
LibraryThing member mhackman
A timeless classic. Charlotte, the benevolent spider spends her time spinning words into her web to save Wilbur, the pig's life. A beautiful tale about friendship and it still makes me cry.
LibraryThing member Naisy
A wonderful story that all children should read. It has it all - friendship, family, love, and the reality of passing on.
LibraryThing member xuesheng
Last night my daughter and I finished our joint reading of Charlotte's Web. For me, our joint trip into this book was like saying 'hello' to an old friend. I love this classic tale of friendship and love between Wilbur the pig and Charlotte the spider. I haven't read it since I was a child, but my memory of the story of the two friends, the rest of the barnyard ensemble and the Zuckerman and Arable families hadn't faded. I attribute my memory of the book to an exceptional story that one cannot forget. Like Wilbur, Charlotte's Web is terrific, radiant and humble all rolled into one.… (more)
LibraryThing member TobysLibraryThing
Another classic in my mind. It is a story about friendship, love, and hard work. I think that every child should read this book because it is so wonderful.
LibraryThing member kscarlett01
This is a great book for children that teaches the importance of friendship. A pig becomes friend with a spider. When the pig becomes in danger of being slaughtered, the spider saves his life.
LibraryThing member autumnreads
The last sentence always make me teary and grateful for having such a beautiful story of friendship exist. Another classic of a young girl coming to make decisions for herself and decide what is right and wrong in the world she comes to understand. Wonderful characters, strong story line and guaranteed to make a lasting impression and loose a tear or two.… (more)
LibraryThing member tg172415
E.B. White's classic tale of loyalty, friendship, and dealing with the realities of life takes place, for the most part, in a barn cellar in what is probably 1950s middle-America. Its themes, however, are universal. Charlotte's Web begins early on a spring morning in the Arable kitchen. Eight-year-old Fern Arable learns that her father is heading out to do away with a tiny pig that was born the night before, and she quickly heads out to correct this horrible injustice. After much discussion, young Fern convinces her father to spare the runt's life, and he allows her to take the responsibility for raising the small pig upon herself. This is how the young pig, christened "Wilbur," begins his life's adventure. The first example of friendship that White provides in Charlotte's Web is that of Wilbur and Fern. Though this is actually more of a mother-child relationship, Fern still shows a great deal of loyalty to Wilbur through most of the book. This relationship parallels that of Wilbur and Charlotte, in some ways, mainly in the fact that Charlotte is quite motherly towards Wilbur at times.

Where Charlotte and Wilbur's friendship surpasses that of the one between Fern and Wilbur is in its staying power. Fern, by the end of the book, has seemingly lost interest in Wilbur, choosing to focus her attentions on a boy. Charlotte, on the other hand, is loyal to the end, even working to save Wilbur's life to the detriment of her own. I really enjoyed this book it has always been one of my childhood favorites. I would recommend it to anyone.
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LibraryThing member asousley
Fern saves the runt pig, Wilbur from being killed when he is born. As he fattens up he is again saved by Charlotte, a gray spider. By spinning words into her web that describe the pig as "radiant, terrific, and humble, she makes Wilbur famous. Charlotte is to die at the fairgrounds alone, but not before Wilbur is able to bring her egg sac back to the farm so that the babies can be born at the farm. Wilbur never forgets Charlotte and always loves her children. Because of her he lives.

Good story, it shows how friendships can grow by helping each other.

A teacher can use this story to show that caring and friendship can be a lifelong item that everyone needs. Having friends is important. It could also be shown that even though the animals are different, just like people are, we can still try to get along.
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LibraryThing member mmmahaffey
· Fern Arable (8) – a young farm girl who befriends a pig, and talks to animals
· Mr. Arable & Mrs. Arable – Fern’s farmer father and mother
· Avery (10) – Fern’s brother
· Wilbur- a spring pig
· Mr. Zuckerman – Fern’s uncle who buys Wilbur and keeps him on his farm
· Charlotte- an artistic spider
· Templeton- a hungry sneaky rat

o Fern saves Wilbur from slaughter p. 2 who she names Wilbur p. 7 (read aloud)
o Fern befriends and feeds Wilbur p. 8-11
o Wilbur goes to live on Zuckerman’s farm where fern visits nearly daily p. 15
o Wilbur makes friends with the other farm animals p. 17
o Wilbur is lonely, but meets a sympathetic friend, Charlotte p. 31
o Charlotte appears and meets Wilbur p. 37
o Wilbur learns that his life expectancy could be cut short p. 49
o Fern’s family thinks she is dingy for conversing with the animals. p. 64 which sends her mom to see the doctor p. 108
o Charlotte begins spinning webs for Wilbur p. 77
o Wilbur draws crowds p. 115
o Wilbur goes to the county fair p. 130, and wins a special prize p. 158
o Charlotte has her eggs p. 144
o Templeton saves the egg sac p. 170
o Charlotte dies p. 171

Subjects/topics: friendship, hope, death, and life

Related titles: Stuart Little, Shiloh

Annotation: This classic story tells the story of compassionate Fern and her love of a runty pig. She saves him from slaughter, but it takes the web weaving of Charlotte, the spider, to attract the attention of the community to save this special pig. The possibility of Wilbur’s death and the death of Charlotte are dealt with sensitively.
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LibraryThing member lecowan
In this Modern Fantasy tale, a young girl rescues a runt pig from death. Her father sells the pig to her uncle and visits the pig daily. The pig, Wilbur, worries about being killed but finds a spider friend named Charlotte who devises a plan to save his life. Charlotte begins writing positive messages about Wilbur in her spider webs. Word about these messages spread and people come from all around to see this miracle about the pig and spider. Wilbur is taken to the county fair where he does well and Charlotte writes messages there that draws attention from the fair goers. Through this Wilbur and Charlotte develop a strong friendship and when Charlotte dies, Wilbur is left to raise her children. This is a timeless tale about friendship and enduring love.

I have always enjoyed this story about Fern, Wilbur and Charlotte. As a farm girl, I could relate to how Fern felt about killing the runts of the litter and was passionate about that myself. I also could relate to having animals at the county fair and some of the weird and mysterious things that would occur at these events. I introduced this story to my children with the movie and they love this story as well.

I would read this story to my students at the beginning of the school year and have them identify the various types of farm animals. Next, I would take them to the local county fair and have them observe these animals and think about how Wilbur would have been at one of these events. I would also arrange for them to visit a local farm to see the farm animals in their natural setting. Another thing a teacher could do is set up a word wall with this book. The categories of this word wall could be places, people, and animals for instance.
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LibraryThing member lacykay9300
In this story a pig named Wilbur feels he is in danger and might be getting sent to the slaughter house. He makes friends with a little spider named charlotte. They try to figure out how to save poor Wilbur form going to the slaughter house. She decides she wants to show the people what a great pig he is. She starts spinning words in her webs the describe him. Such as humble. This gets everyone in the towns attention. It ends up saving Wilbur’s life. In the end the spider ides and Wilbur becomes a show pig.
This is a very well written story. It deals with real things that happen in life like death and friendship. I think it would be a great book to read in a class room.
If I was to read this in a class I think I would let them all make a web with one word on it that describes themselves and then they could share it with the class. They would have to explain why they picked that word.
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LibraryThing member claseliteratura
This is the story of a little girl named Fern who loved a little pig named Wilbur and of Wilbur's dear friend Charlotte a arge grey spider who lived with Wilbur in the barn.With the help of Templeton the rat, Charlotte saved the life of Wilbur, who by this time had grown up to be quite a pig. Great book to teach kids about friendship and loyalty.… (more)
LibraryThing member bibliophile26
I *love* this book so much that I named my daughter after it. I doubt you need a summary or a review. I can't wait to read this to my children when they are older.
LibraryThing member libraryofus
(Amy) Few people have not read Charlotte's Web, and fewer still have not watched the charming movie adaptation. It is a true classic of children's literature, and a sheer joy to read, even in excess of twenty years after first reading. As a tale of the power of friendship to overcome all obstacles, it is quite powerful, but the realization, inherent in the story, that no mortal friendship can be truly eternal is equally powerful, and strong indeed is the person who can read this book without feeling at least a small prickling of the eyes.… (more)
LibraryThing member MSittig
Charlotte's Web is children's novel written by E.B White. This novel tells the story of a pig named Wilbur and a spider named Charlotte. Charlotte and Wilbur become the best of friends throughout the novel. Charlotte saves Wilbur from being slaughtered by the farmer. Charlotte passes away at the end of the novel, so Wilbur is to protect her spider eggs and soon becomes friends with the baby spiders while Wilbur still lives in the barn for the years to come. This novel teaches children about friendship, love, and to never give up.… (more)
LibraryThing member su_library_student
Wilbur the pig is a runt saved by a little girl named Fern. When Wilbur becomes bigger, he is sold to Fern's uncle who intends to eat Wilbur eventually. Charlotte, a spider, comes up with a plan to save Wilbur by weaving various words into her web. The story revolves around these antics.

Children and adults will enjoy reading this story which is easy to read and entertaining.… (more)
LibraryThing member henara
A beloved classic that everyone enjoys.




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