100 Chapter Books Project: Charlotte’s Web

charlottes-web

E.B. White’s 1952 classic, Charlotte’s Web, was the number one book on the Top 100 Chapter Books list. I can’t imagine that there are many young readers who manage to get through childhood without reading this book or having it read to them.

What it’s about: Fern Arable finds out one morning that her father is heading out to the barn, intending to kill the runt pig of a new litter. She can’t stand that this is the fate of a little creature and so her father allows her to raise the pig to teach her a lesson. The tables are turned though when Wilbur is a perfect little pig. When he’s a big bigger, he goes to her uncle’s farm down the road where he is now at risk of being killed for food. Luckily, Wilbur makes friends with a talented spider who has an idea of how to save his life.

Age level: Grades 2-4

Best part: The descriptions of the seasons and the patterns of life are wonderful. Also, there’s no dancing around the word kill. It’s an honest description of what happens to animals bred for food.

Worst part: Fern’s mother is a bit harsh at times but thankfully she softens up.

Verdict: Buy

Well, that’s it for the list! Was this the best book of the entire thing? Probably not. But it is certainly timeless, great for all readers, and not lacking in a couple of good lessons for youngsters. But, most of all, it’s special because of the magic of Charlotte, a humble spider.

I’ll have one more post at the end of the month to remind you of all the great books I’ve read over the last four and a half years and then I’ll have to search for my next major reading project, I guess!

*****
Schedule – March
March 31 – Project Wrap-Up!

 

100 Chapter Books Project: Anne of Green Gables

anneofgreengables

Of all of the books that I regret not reading as a child that show up on the Top 100 Chapter Books list (and that existed when I was a kid), Anne of Green Gables (1908) by L.M. Montgomery is possibly the one at the top of the list. I actually read it once before this time, about six or seven years ago, but I didn’t remember much about it except that I really did love it. This reading is definitely the one that will stick with me forever.

What it’s about: Anne Shirley is an orphan who is accidentally brought to Prince Edward Island to be adopted by the Cuthbert siblings, Matthew and Marilla. The accident was that they had asked for a boy to help Matthew work the land and so they intend to send her back but, after a day or two of experiencing Anne’s unique way of speaking and of looking at the world, they decide to keep her with them at Green Gables after all. What follows is the growth of an unconventional family, centered around a very unconventional girl.

Age level: Grades 4-7

Best part: Oh, everything. The beautiful descriptions of the land and the seasons of Prince Edward Island, the bosom friendships, the softening of Marilla’s heart — it’s all so lovely.

Worst part: That thing that happens right before the end, you know, the thing that makes you sob and sob? I truly wish that hadn’t happened. I know why it had to but I wish it didn’t.

Verdict: Buy

I really should read the rest of this series and the other ones that Montgomery wrote. There’s part of me, though, that doesn’t like seeing child characters grow up. It’s why I didn’t read The Cursed Child. I know that Anne doesn’t have the easiest path in life and I’m not sure I want to read about it. If you have read the rest of the series or one of the others and you love them, please try and convince me to read them!

One more book to go … #1 on the list, Charlotte’s Web. This is one I have read so many times in my life that it’s probably part of my DNA now. What a pleasant way to end this project!

*****
Schedule – March
March 15 – #1 Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (1952)
March 31 – Project Wrap-Up!

100 Chapter Books Project: Pippi Longstocking

Pippi_Långstrump

I just realized that only two books on the Top 100 Chapter Books list were translated from other languages — The Little Prince and this one, Pippi Longstocking (1950) by Astrid Lindgren.

What it’s about: Pippi is a possible orphan (her mother died and her father washed overboard his ship) so she goes to live in the house her father bought in Sweden, Villa Villekulla. She brings along a suitcase full of gold and Mr. Nilsson, a monkey. She quickly meets the children next door–Tommy and Annika–and they all begin having adventures together.

Age level: Grades 1-3

Best part: Pippi is the best. She does what she wants, she’s generous, she’s strong, and she has her own horse and monkey. She doesn’t think or act like other kids and everyone eventually accepts that. She is fully her own person.

Worst part: There’s some light stereotyping of cultures from around the world but Pippi also admittedly lies about those cultures so kids will likely just group everything into the “lie” category.

Verdict: Buy/Borrow

I loved this book as a kid (and the others in the series), I loved it when Z and I read it together a decade ago, and I loved it now. Pippi just makes me smile. She seems simple but she outsmarts everyone who means to do her harm. This isn’t a must-read for any reason but it’s a should read just for fun. It might even help neuro-atypical kids feel empowered.

I’ll be reading Anne of Green Gables for only the second time so I look forward to that next!

*****
Schedule – February through March
February 28 – #8 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (1908)
March 15 – #1 Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (1952)
March 31 – Project Wrap-Up!