Melissa Sweet’s Some Writer: The Story of E. B. White is one of those books you just want to carry around with you all the time, just so that you can have the pleasure of reading it over and over again, savoring the words and glorying in the artwork. Here, for instance, is one page I return to time and time again:
What I love about that page (apart from the fact that it centers around one of my favorite passages from Charlotte’s Web) is what I love about this book as a whole – it is such a magical celebration of E.B. White’s life, work, and brilliant imagination.
Melissa Sweet tells the story of White’s life, tracing the arc of his boyhood through his years at the New Yorker and to the writing years that gave us cherished books like Charlotte’s Web. I loved learning how White worked through his ideas, and what inspired those ideas in the first place. Sweet shares snippets from letters and journals, as well as photographs and sketches; these are exquisitely woven together with Sweet’s text and art work.
As a life long admirer of E.B.White, I’ve read his books (Here is New York is a personal favorite), letters (such fun!) and his short pieces and essays for The New Yorker. I’ve loved his humor and his extraordinary ability to write profound truths in simple, direct ways. Sweet’s book allows young readers, also, to appreciate the writerly life of one of their most beloved authors – it’s a window into his writing life, as well as the life he lived.
E.B. White loved the power of the written word and understood its craft, and Sweet’s book will be windows to the craft of writing for our students; I will be looking for ways to weave its pages into our writing workshops.
Here’s a wonderful interview with Melissa Sweet, in which she shares her thoughts about the creative process:
I’ve been on the hunt for a historical fiction read aloud to open our genre study, which is no easy task – so many fabulous choices! But, this year, I brought a different kind of focus to this hunt; I want our read aloud to connect to historical events that have a particular resonance to America today – race relations, social justice, and the search for truth in a time of hysterical falsehoods. As I rummaged around in my classroom library, I found Karen Hesse’s Witness. Re-reading it this weekend, I knew that I had found the book I was in search of.
Here’s the synopsis from Scholastic’s site:
Witness is a powerful story, and the beautifully crafted voices of each character tell the story with compelling nuance. I was moved by the way in which this book, written in 2001, connects to conversations we are having today about race, prejudice, and standing up for the truth. Witness reveals the best in us and the worst in us, it is a deftly told cautionary tale of how easy it is for good people to be swayed by evil, or to look away when evil comes, as it often does, in the guise of patriotism and religious fervor. It is an important book to share and discuss with our students, especially now.