Monday, June 13, 2011

The Story of Charlotte's Web

The Story of Charlotte's Web: E. B. White's Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic 

I can't wait to read this book, but that subtitle is really awkward.  Don't you think E.B. White would cringe?  Actually, subtitles have been getting clunkier and more unwieldy in recent years.  Is there such a thing as subtitle school? Oh well, never mind all of that.  I want to buy this book and delve into it just in time for E.B. White's birthday on July 11.  I hope there are numerous mentions of illustrator Garth Williams and editor Ursula Nordstrom.

Coincidentally, my Children's Literature class just wrapped up a semester of reading Charlotte's Web.  Most of them did a great job on the quiz below.  I really wanted to ask some higher-order questions, but it was a mixed-level class and there was still too much of a language barrier for many of the students.

How much do you remember about this novel?
1. What was Mr. Arable carrying at the beginning of the novel? (an ax)

2. In what ways did Fern treat Wilbur like a baby?  (she fed him with a bottle, wheeled him in her doll buggy)

3. Mr. Arable wanted to sell Wilbur when he was 5 weeks old.  Why?  (Wilbur was starting to eat more and the brothers and sisters had been sold)

4. Fern’s mother made a suggestion that made both Mr. Arable and Fern happy. What was the suggestion?  (Fern should sell the pig to her Uncle Homer and Fern could see Wilbur whenever she wanted.)

5. How much did Homer Zuckerman pay Fern for Wilbur? (6 dollars)

6. Why wasn’t Wilbur happy in his new home? (he was bored and he missed Fern)

7. Why didn't the goose want to play with Wilbur?  (she was sitting on her eggs)

8. How did Templeton say he preferred to spend his time? (eating, gnawing, spying and hiding)

9. Who said, "I'll be your friend?"  (Charlotte)

10. Why did Charlotte say that it’s good that spiders eat bugs? (if spiders didn't eat bugs, they would get so numerous they would destroy the earth)

11. Wilbur thought that Charlotte was b____________ and c______________ and he said that friendship is a g______________________. (bloodthirsty, cruel, gamble)

12.  The gander made a deal with Templeton. What was the deal? (Templeton could have the dud egg, but he must stay away from the goslings)

13. Templeton "had no ___________ of rodent kindness." (milk)

14. What bad news did the old sheep give Wilbur? (Zuckerman was planning to kill him at Christmastime.)

15. How many sections did Charlotte’s legs have?  4  5   6   7 (7)

16. Why was the rotten goose egg important? (when it broke, the smell was so bad, it drove Avery out of the barnyard.  He was in the process of capturing Charlotte, so it saved her life.)

17. Charlotte told Wilbur that she did her best thinking when she (was in her web, hanging head-down)

18. One of Charlotte's cousins caught a small __________ in her web. (fish)

19. Why did Templeton agree to help save Wilbur’s life? (the old sheep made him realize that if Wilbur wasn't there to receive slops, Templeton's food supply would be drastically cut)

20. Dr. Dorian told Mrs. Arable that a spider’s web itself is a m______________________. (miracle)

21. The old sheep gave Templeton a reason why he should go to the fair. What was the reason?   (People drop food all over the ground at a fair.  It's a rat's paradise.)

22. Before going to the fair, Mrs. Zuckerman did what to Wilbur? (gave him a buttermilk bath)

23. Before everyone drove off to the fair, what did Mr. Arable say that made Wilbur faint? ("You'll get some good ham and bacon when it comes time to kill that pig.")

24. Why did the pig called ‘Uncle’ get the blue ribbon?  What did Wilbur get? (Uncle was larger.  Wilbur got a special prize of $25 and a medal)

25. When Wilbur fainted at the awards ceremony, what revived him?   (Templeton bit his tail)

26. How many eggs were in Charlotte’s egg sac?  (514)

27. How did Wilbur get the egg sac back to the barn cellar?  (he carried it in his mouth)

28. What promise did Wilbur make to Templeton?  (if you'll get the egg sac, I will let you eat first every time Lurvy slops me)

29. Where did most of Charlotte's children go?  (they were aeronauts and went out into the world on the warm wind)

30. "It is not often that someone comes along who is a __________ friend and a _________ writer.  Charlotte was both." (true friend, good writer)

BONUS:  What were the 4 words/phrases about Wilbur that Charlotte wove into her web? (Some Pig, Terrific, Radiant and Humble.)


A Library Girl said...

Your comment about the subtitle reminded me of thesis-writing at my undergrad college. There was an unwritten rule that every thesis had to have a subtitle. The first part of your title could be fun, catchy, interesting, whatever, but your subtitle had to sound appropriately academic. It also had to cram in as much of your thesis statement as possible.

There were a few people who broke the rule, and it was always a bit of a shock. I'd see a title that wasn't at least 2 lines long, and I'd think, "Oh, I could never be that brave!" :D

Anonymous said...

I flunked your quiz. Of course, it's been YEARS since I read the book!

Tami said...

I thought I knew this book inside out, but after taking your quiz, I'm rethinking. Is there an answer list somewhere? (because I'm too lazy to look them up myself). Fun quiz!

Carrie K said...

Why do I not remember that Wilbur was on the bacon block?

Ha. Thesis statements in subtitles. That explains a lot. I love subtitles, they're so unsubtle and that amuses me.