Saturday, January 28, 2017

Some Writer: The Story of E.B. White

“All beginnings are wonderful.” - E.B. White

Melissa Sweet mixes her mixed media style with photographs of E.B. White throughout his life and excerpts from his writing and letters with a special, personal connection to her neighbor, White’s granddaughter, Martha.  Sweet’s attention to detail in her illustration style makes each of her books special and unique.  Some Writer’s realia based artwork includes bits of barn, vintage office supplies, and even real eggs.  I happen to be revisiting this to review on New Year’s Eve and a number of quotes from E.B. White’s life strike me on this day when we turn a new page to a new year.

In chapter one, an anecdote is shared about E.B. White’s first (and last) run in with speaking on a stage in front of a crowd.  It struck me as rather similar to Dr. Seuss’ vow after embarrassment to never again speak publicly and yet, each had a voice that reached millions in his own way.  It makes one wonder about the ability of great writers to convey in words that which they might never wish to speak aloud.  

Incorporating the story of White’s life, along with his own writings and recollections, as well as sketches and notes helps the story to flow and for the reader to enjoy the ride as if in E.B. White’s own home made boat, a scow named Flounder.

Being an elementary teacher, I sometimes encounter adults who speak down to children and a passage struck me as just right when reflecting on why this bothers me so much.

“Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time.  You have to write up, not down.  Children are demanding.  They are the most attentive, curious, eager, observant, sensitive, quick, and generally congenial readers on earth…Children are game for anything.  I throw them hard words and they backhand them over the net.” - E.B. White

E.B. White got that children were people who deserved great stories.  He respected their ability to understand all the nuances and foreshadowing.  Just as I’ve now read “Some Writer” or at least “some” passages of it over and over looking for “The Right Word”, young (and old) readers can read Charlotte’s Web and other of White’s writings again and again and enjoy them each time.

Title: Some Writer: The Story of E.B. White 
Author: Melissa Sweet
Published 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 
ISBN: 978-0-544-31959-2

This copy was received from the publisher for purpose of review.

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