Everyone knows the great classic, Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White. And now there’s a new edition featuring a foreword by one of my favorite authors, Kate DiCamillo. Some things she said caught my eye and I thought I would pass them on.

            As a girl, DiCamillo resisted reading the book. The pig on the cover looked worried. And then there was a picture of a man with an ax! This couldn’t turn out well, she was afraid. She finally read the book as an adult, and here’s what she said:

“Things didn’t turn out well.

“But they also did turn out well.

“And that, for me, is the crux of the miracle of this book: within the confines of its pages, something terrible, something unbearable, happens. And yet, we bear the unbearable thing. And in the end, we even rejoice.”

DiCamillo reminds us that E.B. White said, “All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world.”

Then she continues:

“White loved barns and pastures, dumps and fair grounds, ponds and kitchens. He loved pigs and sheep and geese and spiders. He loved rain, harnesses, pitchforks, springtime, fall. He loved spiderwebs, monkey wrenches, Ferris wheels…

“Every word of the book shows us how we can bear the triumphs and despairs, the wonders and heartbreaks, the small and large glories and tragedies of being here. We can bear it all by loving it all.” [Italics are mine.]

Finally, DiCamillo quotes the words of Charlotte the spider as she talks to Wilbur the pig:

“These autumn days will shorten and grow cold. The leaves will shake loose from the trees and fall. Christmas will come, then the snows of winter. You will live to enjoy the beauty of the frozen world…Winter will pass, the days will lengthen, the ice will melt in the pasture pond. The song sparrow will return and sing, the frogs will awake, the warm wind will blow again. All these sights and sounds and smells will be yours to enjoy, Wilbur—this lovely world, these precious days…”

“This is Charlotte’s promise to Wilbur.

“It is also E.B. White’s promise to his reader: things will continue; life will go on. It will be beautiful, astonishing, heartbreaking. And as long as you keep your eyes and heart open to the wonder of it, as long as you love, it will be okay.”

I think that’s a very good statement of one of the great benefits of good children’s literature: it helps young readers to keep their eyes and heart open to the wonders of life. It helps them see the world as it is…and deepens their ability to love the world anyway.”

And loving the world has great survival value. “We can bear it all by loving it all.”