We are all looking for that special someone who will save our lives!
I recently acquired an old copy of Charlotte’s Web. It is a story of friendship at its most pure and unpolluted. It also happens to be my favorite book. I first came to the story through the animated film of the same name, which thankfully follows very closely to the book. It was only later that I discovered E.B. White, the stories author and came to admire his keen eye and ability to illustrate deeply felt emotions in simple, unobtrusive language. My life long love of children’s literature, countless hours of reading anywhere I could; in bed under the covers when I was supposed to be asleep, in the park when I should have been playing, at school when I should have been paying attention and later when I began to turn my love of children’s literature into something more tangible, the current incarnation of which is this blog and the research library I founded can all be traced back to a quaint barnyard and some pig, a terrific radiant and humble pig and the spider whose special friendship saved his life. The story took on special meaning for me because to be perfectly honest I was a very lonely child with no real friends. Emotionally I was as vulnerable as Wilbur was when he discovered the fate that awaited him at Christmas time so in a very real sense Charlotte proved to be as good a friend to me as she was to Wilbur. In some ways she saved us both.
What is strange, and for this I have no explanation, I have not owned a copy of the book for many years. So it was that in mind, as well as one other very important thing I bought one when I saw it packed tightly, and erroneously on the shelves of a used book store. It was three dollars; the covers had what I call love marks, those little tears that develop the more a book is opened. There were a few age spots and just the faintest musty odor, not at all unpleasant, quit the contrary really. It is an odor that is delightful to any bibliophile. I suppose the gently mad have peculiar sensibilities, as well as senses, though not always the most sense.
What I failed to notice when I bought the book was a hand written note on the front end paper. Now the end papers are in dark blue imprinted with a white spiders web and the writing, in a hand that shows the traces of adolescence was in blue ink, faded with time. The writing, as I discovered belonged to Holly. I know nothing of Holly but what her inscription tells me. And yet through her simple sentiment I know so much. It is curious because it was not inscribed as a gift but as a personal remembrance as if it were important that she record how important the book was to her. It struck me as having a sacrosanct quality, the way important things were once written in family bibles. I have no way of knowing how the book passed from Holly down to me. I imagine she would be in her sixties today with children and grandchildren of her own and I know that somewhere in her heart there is a fond recollection of a tory that ment so much to her. This is what she said…
“I loved this dear little book,
It’s so sad and sweet Everybody should read it “
Thank you Holly. And though my son is not yet born I know he will cherish this wonderful little story as much as you and because more than for myself I bought it for him.