A couple of weeks ago, I read EB White’s second book Charlotte’s Web. The book was so terrific and heartwarming that I wrote a passionate review, sharing my thoughts on how rueful I was to have discovered White late. I deemed that I should have read his works when I was a child. What a fantastic writer!
Since I loved his Charlotte’s Web, I was looking forward to reading his first book, the popular Stuart Little. After having read it, now I am glad that I read Charlotte’s Web first. Perhaps, if I hadn’t, I might not have adored White as much as I do now.
Stuart Little didn’t disappoint me. Maybe, disappointment is quite a harsh word to employ, to describe any work of White’s. It’s just that the book was not that brilliant as Charlotte’s Web. To me, Stuart Little was a good children’s book with a couple of artfully written passages. However, unlike Charlotte’s Web, it didn’t warm my heart quite often. The characters weren’t memorable as Charlotte and Wilbur. The story was cute and simple, but not moving. Should it have to be moving, you ask? But, I think, White was an expert at writing lovely, touching, non-preachy children’s stories. Unfortunately, although it was good, Stuart Little was plain.
Stuart – the brave, adventurous mouse – raised by Mr and Mrs Little, is a sucker for routines. I particularly enjoyed those couple of paragraphs, in which White details how leisurely and meticulously Stuart does his morning tasks. I am not a morning person. But, from the way White describes how mornings feel, I have begun to think that I am missing a lot of beautiful things in life by waking up late. 😉
“He liked the feeling of being the first one stirring; he enjoyed the quiet rooms with the books standing still on the shelves, the pale light coming in through the windows, and the fresh smell of day.”
The little mouse sets out to look out for his friend: Margalo, a pretty bird. The conversation between Margalo and Stuart was awww-inducing. I wanted them to talk longer. However, something unfortunate happens, making Margalo flee for her life. Stuart drives his miniature car, and goes North to find his best friend. On his way, he meets several strangers, who are incredibly kind to him. That’s one of the best things about White’s books. They restore my faith in strangers. 😉
Stuart also goes on a date with Miss Ames, who is tinier than Stuart. There is one dialogue that makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. When a storekeeper informs Stuart that he might be interested to meet Ames, the mouse asks, “What’s she like? Fair, fat, and forty?” The storekeeper says, “No, Harriet is young and she is quite pretty…” So what, if Ames is fat? I don’t quite understand Stuart’s question. It’s more bewildering because the storekeeper reassures that she is pretty. It makes me feel a bit off, because Stuart Little was written for children. It would have been only fair to help children realise that fat people are agreeable too, and that it’s okay to fall in love with them. Maybe, I am stretching it too much here. But, do you agree that it’s a valid view? And, this is not a complaint really. Only a different perspective. 🙂
I firmly believe that every children’s book offers an invaluable piece of advice for adults. If Charlotte’s Web was replete with enlightening thoughts on making friends, basking in nature, and dealing with loss, Stuart Little reminds me what is important in life. And, I buy that view.
“Henry Rackmeyer, you tell us what is important,” said Stuart. “A shaft of sunlight at the end of a dark afternoon, a note in music, and the way the back of a baby’s neck smells if its mother keeps it tidy,” answered Henry. “Correct,” said Stuart. “Those are the important things. You forgot one thing, though. Mary Bendix, what did Henry Rackmeyer forget?” “He forgot ice cream with chocolate sauce on it,” said Mary quickly.
Stuart Little might not have floored me. But that doesn’t stop me from reading White’s third book: The Trumpet of the Swan. Also, I will continue to rave about the writer, and coerce friends into reading Charlotte’s Web. Because, that book deserves all that love. 🙂