Archives for posts with tag: Charlotte’s Web


Today, there is at long last glorious rain — which I love any day of the year — in Los Angeles. And whether or not you like rain — and I don’t think most Angelenos like it, judging by their elaborate moisture-averting wardrobes — we need it to keep the dry brush from bursting into flames.

The above paragraph is a preamble to saying I woke up to the beautiful sight of a quarter-sized (including the legs) spider in my bathtub, looking for shelter from the storm. I would have left him/her there, except my cat Clancy likes to chase and eat spiders — and I didn’t think it wise for the cat or the spider. So i captured said spider in a jar that once held Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves (great with plain greek yogurt) and ushered him/her outside, where I hoped the arachnid found a place to wait out the rain.

The above two paragraphs are a preamble to marking the 114th birthday of E.B. White, author of one of my all-time favorite books, Charlotte’s Web. Charlotte, as most people know, was the spider that was a “a good writer” and “true friend” to Wilbur — a pig she saves from the slaughterhouse. (And for those who believe in animal totems — or who find them interesting — spiders are the totem of writers.)

So let’s enjoy a passage from the delightful, charming, profound Charlotte’s Web, a masterpiece for young and old by E.B. White.

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elwyn Brooks “E. B.” White (July 11, 1899 – October 1, 1985), was an American writer. He was a contributor to The New Yorker and a co-author of the English language style guide, The Elements of Style. He also wrote books for children, including Charlotte’s WebStuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan. In a 2012 survey, readers of School Library Journal voted Charlotte’s Web the top children’s novel of all time. (Read more at


“Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.” From Charlotte’s Web by E.B. WHITE

Illustration by Garth Williams

Thoughts: Can anyone read Charlotte’s Web and not experience  a full range of emotions? I love this book — it is one of my all-time favorites: a revelation, an inspiration, a wonder, a pleasure, a treasure, an amazement, a classic, a masterpiece!

Once I was bitten by a black widow spider on my inner right arm (my writing hand). My arm swelled up. I had lines of toxic venom traveling down my arm from the bite. My arm was hot and red and scary-looking. And all I could think about was Charlotte!

Yes, I felt I had been visited by my animal writing totem who had given me a gift! (I called poison control and they said if I wasn’t dead already I probably didn’t need the anti-venom. I knew it was a black widow because I found the dead spider on the floor. RIP.)

They say that spiders don’t bite unless you disturb them. In my case, I took some Christmas wrapping paper out of the closet, where it had been stored since the previous Yuletide. Apparently my black widow had been ensconced amid the snowmen and reindeer and I had disturbed the fairyland.