Study Guide

Charlotte's Web Introduction

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Charlotte's Web Introduction

Shmoopers, we've been thinking about pigs. Why? Because pigs are cute and pink, especially when they're fictional. So we've put together a little list of our favorite imaginary pigs. And who do you think tops the list? Yep, it's Wilbur from Charlotte's Web.

Oh, you want to see our list?

• Wilbur, obviously 
Miss Piggy
Porky Pig

See what we mean? Pigs are pretty stinkin' great, especially when they can talk. And Wilbur is one of the best little piggies out there. That little guy has stolen our hearts.

When E. B. White published Charlotte's Web in 1952, he cast Wilbur the pig as the story's star. And his co-star is none other than a sweet spider named—can you guess it?—Charlotte.

Together, Charlotte and Wilbur embark on a special mission. If you're thinking that a talking pig and a pretty spider have an easy life on a farm, then you'd be wrong, dear friends. True, they do live on a farm. And they do have some fun times together.

But there's also a darker side to this tale. Pretty soon, Wilbur finds out that he's a dead pig walking. His owners have a sad fate planned for him: they're going to kill him and turn him into bacon. Oink! Now that's serious stuff. So Wilbur, Charlotte, and our gal's trusty web set about trying to save Wilbur's life.

Along the way, they have some zany adventures and make some new buds. All this adds up to a seriously enjoyable tale. Itching for just a few more tidbits about what makes this book so much fun? Well here you go:

• There's a cute pig, in case we haven't mentioned that.
• We meet a smarmy rat who is basically evil personified.
• There's a trip to the county fair. Complete with cotton candy.
• At one point, the pig wears a bib and rides around in a stroller. Yeah, totally adorable.
• There are spider babies. Lots and lots of spider babies.
• We meet a sweet girl named Fern and she fights with her dad about an ax. Crazy stuff.
• There are awesome illustrations by Garth Williams.
• And did we mention there's a pig?

Ever since White published Charlotte's Web, it's been a classic tale for the young at heart. We haven't met anyone who doesn't enjoy curling up in bed to spend some time with Charlotte, Wilbur, and their gang of chums. But don't just take our word for it. White won a Newbery Honor for Charlotte's Web. This book is the real deal.

And now there are two movies for you to dive into when you're done reading. We wholeheartedly recommend the 1973 film version of Charlotte's Web. And here's why: it's animated, and it's a musical. It's also super cheesy, but it'll definitely give you some pep in your step. (There's also a 2006 movie with Dakota Fanning as Fern if you're in the mood for a contemporary flick.)

Either way, here's the point: if you haven't read Charlotte's Web yet, drop everything and do it right now. You'll be happy to have a new favorite pig.

What is Charlotte's Web About and Why Should I Care?

Have you ever been in a tough spot and needed a friend? Or maybe you've had a rough day and called up your best bud? We've all been there. And when you're in a pinch, it's good to have a chum you can call on, the type of friend who will lend you a helping hand.

For Wilbur, that pal is Charlotte. We're not exaggerating one bit when we say that this spider is as loyal as can be.

You see, Wilbur finds himself in a bit of a rough patch. He faces a life-or-death situation and just can't go it alone. So it's a good thing he has such a loyal friend by his side. Charlotte is so devoted to Wilbur that nothing—and we mean nothing—can dampen her dependability. Charlotte is willing to sacrifice her life to help out her best bud. And over time, Wilbur learns what it's like not just to have a faithful friend, but to be one, too.

So if you're in the market for a touching tale about two devoted pals, then Charlotte's Web is here to deliver. E. B. White has us remembering that a loyal friend is hard to find. So when you've got one, you better hang on tight.

Charlotte's Web Resources


Livin' It Up With E.B. White
Take a peek at E.B. White's bio and accolades. He's got a lot!

Movie or TV Productions

Sing It, Charlotte!
This animated musical version of Wilbur and Charlotte's tale from 1973 will have you singing your heart out. Seriously, watch out: the songs are catchy!

Charlotte's Web (2006)
Check out this movie version of the novel. Does it feel like an accurate rendition to you?

Articles and Interviews

Chit Chat with E. B. White
Serve yourself some homemade blueberry pie and dig into this hefty interview with E. B. White. You'll get the deets on everything from White's literary career to his childhood.

My Stepdad Rocked
Roger Angell, E. B. White's stepson, reminisces about the author. It's a super cool peek into White's life from a family member's perspective.


Charlotte's Web Goes to Hollywood
Check out this preview for the 2006 movie version. What could be better than Dakota Fanning as Fern and Julia Roberts' voice for Charlotte?

Sing-Along Charlotte's Web
In the 1973 movie preview, you'll catch a glimpse at how this novel gets transformed into an animated musical. It's good singsong fun. Plus, it's like time travelling back to the earlier days of animation.


Listen to E. B. White and His Seriously Cool Voice
Take a listen to this report on Charlotte's Web. You'll get to hear E. B. White read snippets of the tale, which is pretty awesome.

All Together Now: "Up with your chinny chin chin!"
Check out this peppy song from the 1973 movie. Better yet, set this song as your alarm and you'll always wake up on the right side of the bed.


Better Brush Your Teeth
Take a look at this Garth Williams illustration. How sweet is that?!

When You Think of Charlotte's Web, You Think of This
Here's the iconic illustration that holds the primo cover spot on copies of Charlotte's Web.

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