The story of how E.B. White came to write two of his three classic children’s books.
Young Elwyn White, sick in bed, befriended a mouse. Later, “on a train one night in a dream,” a “dapper” mouse dressed in a hat and carrying a cane appeared to Andy (the author’s nickname since his college days at Cornell). When Andy moved to Maine, “he filled his barn with stoic sheep, anxious hens, and gossiping geese. But he still had a mouse on his mind.” The mouse became Stuart Little. In an old boathouse, “with a mouse for company,” Andy created a story about a pig and a spider, denizens of the “high-lofted barn” he had always dreamed of. And Charlotte’s Web came to be. Herkert’s elegant prose and Castillo’s stunning brown ink–and-watercolor illustrations team up for a magnificent model of what a picture book can be. The double-page spreads are simply gorgeous: Elwyn’s nighttime neighborhood, with yellow-amber house lights under a blue sky and crescent moon; a brown-toned New York City street scene followed by the pastoral beauty of Maine; and a breathtakingly beautiful barn scene, reminiscent of Garth Williams’ original Charlotte’s Web but this one in glowing colors. Though White’s third classic, The Trumpet of the Swan, is only mentioned in the author’s note, this is some book.
A stunner—radiant even. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)