Reading/Interest Level: Primary
Author: Melissa Sweet
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
As a young boy in a large family, Elwyn Brookes White took an early interest in writing and developed a very strong aversion to the stage. These two preferences remained with him throughout his life. He loved dogs, being outdoors, and boating. Friends in college nicknamed him Andy, and that is what friends and family called him from then on. He and a friend went on a post-college excursion across the country in his car, working for gas money along the way. Back in New York, he began his writing career and found a job (and a wife) at the budding New Yorker Magazine. Andy and his family eventually settled in rural Maine on a farm with pigs, geese, chickens, and sheep. The death of one of his pigs inspired the story of Charlotte's Web. He retired in 1982 and passed away quietly at home in 1985.
The interplay of images and text make this biography simply amazing. The selected excerpts from letters to and from Andy are combined with collages of illustrations, photos, and sketches in a way that authenticates each point in the story. A sense of privacy in the writing contributes an understanding of his desire for personal space and peace, but is also telling of his humor and intellect. The writing is concise and to the point, and the information gives the reader a strong sense of who he was and what made him great. An easy rapport develops between the reader and all things that E.B. White enjoyed, which makes it easy to understand his point of view and gives depth to his writing. This is an excellent book and beautiful biography.