Thursday, September 20, 2012

Charlotte's Web

Summer 2012, I had a grand project for my daughter and myself; we will read a book everyday including chapter books. She started reading at three, and I knew it was time to move on to the next level. Every night we read a book, which becomes our cozy ritual. During bedtime story she points out my mistake and corrects my words or mispronunciation. To my defense I make same old excuses, "English isn't my first language. I don't know all the words or how to pronounce correctly." So far, I didn't receive any refutation.

I have heard of name of the book, Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. But I haven't read English version. (Nor Korean version...) In fact, having acquainted the author E.B. White from One Man's Meat, was good stepping stone for me to embark on reading Charlotte's Web.  

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”
E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

What's the story?

When Fern convinces her father not to kill the runt pig of the litter, she names him Wilbur and raises him with a bottle. Soon Wilbur goes to live in her Uncle Homer Zuckerman's barn down the road, where she visits him every day. But when she's not there, Wilbur is lonely -- the sheep, cows, geese, and even the rats don't want to play and be his friend. Then he meets Charlotte, a gray spider whose web is in a corner of the barn door, and they become good friends. But soon after, they learn that Wilbur is to be slaughtered next Christmas to make ham and bacon. So Charlotte hatches a plan to make the Zuckermans want to keep Wilbur around forever.                                                                   


It has twenty-two chapters. That means we needed to be persistent and patient. Each chapter has at least seven pages. So we needed roughly a month to read. Some nights we read three chapters until I got thirsty, other nights we skipped to the picture book.

At the end of August, we finished reading Charlotte's Web. It was my own victorious moment, howling 'YES, I MADE IT' in my heart, patting my shoulders. I didn't give up nor rush it through. I managed to keep the momentum of reading chapters so that my girl was still interested in. 

     "'s too sad," my daughter said after reading the last line of the book, "My heart really hurts and I don't like it. I don't like sad story."
     "I know how you feel," I hugged her and rubbed her chest, trying to heal the pain. "It's ok. The way you feel now is normal, and if you feel like crying you can cry out too."

Seeing her trying not to cry, instead being angry at book, reminded me my immature version. This was one of the coping mechanism that I had developed since I was little. Being grumpy and angry at others made a lot easier to deal with heart-bent situation, and certainly it worked. (Funny thing is lots of people do that too.)

After reading the whole book, I understood the small words - All Ages, at the bottom of the back cover. It wasn't only for the young children, because it also made me paralyzed from its impact after reading. Charlotte's Web was published in 1952, yet after 60 years it still touches many readers' heart. The truth of life says itself.

 “After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die.”
E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

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