Hello from Lucinda the literate cat, bringing you another of my children’s book reviews. However, before I start this review, I have some background information for you. Members of my fan club have asked me how I, a cat, ever learned to read, and how I write these reviews. The Cantankerous Cat Lady (a.k.a. CCL) has given me permission to tell my story.
How Much Do Your Animals Really Know?
The two-leggeds say that truth is often stranger than fiction. My story fits that saying. First of all, be aware that your four-legged family members most likely understand more of what you say than you think possible. When we are around you all the time, we hear you speak, and even though we cannot answer in your language, we know the meaning of many of your words.
When I moved in with the CCL, I met Carlos, the last cat-in-charge in this household. Carlos was an exceptional cat, and shared some of his knowledge with me.
Learning From the Memory Library
First of all, he took me to the CCL’s Memory Library, a place best visited when she is sleeping. Lying next to her at night, I learned to travel into her mind to the Memory Library, where all her words are stored. I studied new words almost every night.
A side note: Since we do not have a language in the way you two-leggeds do, how did Carlos communicate with me? Well, he used Cat Telepathy.
The four-leggeds, especially cats, all communicate telepathically. If you observe your four-leggeds, you might see that some kind of information has passed between them, though they sit without making a sound.
It is too bad you two-leggeds have lost your ability to communicate in this way, as it would be much easier to tell you what we want. We “talk” to each other by passing images between us, rather than words.
A Unique Feature of the Memory Library
A unique thing about the CCL’s Memory Library was that we didn’t actually read the words in there — we heard them! This phenomenon was very helpful when it came time to read. When we hear the spoken writing, it forms itself into images in our heads so we can understand.
The CCL had a special pair of glasses made for me which made all those squiggly things you call letters much larger and darker. With the glasses, when I ran my paw underneath the words, I could easily hear what they said.
Since I got the glasses, I have read (heard) many books. Having heard the meaning as I followed the line of squiggles with my paw, I also took note of what combinations of squiggles were needed to make that word. That is a skill you call “spelling.”
Unfortunately, I miss some letters when I try to write what I hear, so my spelling is not very good. The CCL corrects all my stories before she prints them.
How I am Able to Write
So how do I write down the words? The CCL puts my high stool in front of the computer keyboard, and with my glasses on I can see the letters on there better, I type the stories by tapping the proper letters with my paws. (Well, I try to use the proper letter. Since I am typing from what I have heard, my spelling suffers a bit.)
Once I have the whole story typed, my CCL does all the corrections.
This information is for you, my readers, and my fan club members, but not for anyone else. Please be sure that no big university hears about my abilities, because they will try to capture me and study me.
Actually, I guess it really wouldn’t matter who you told. If a university abducted me, I will just morph into a very ordinary little house cat, and they will be totally baffled. After all, they cannot communicate telepathically, so they will not be able to figure out my marvelous mind.
And now you know how I can put together these reviews for you. Tonight I am summarizing another hardcover children’s book, with some unusual characters.
This week’s book is one I hadn’t read, so the CCL asked me to do so, just so I could write this review. The name of the book is Charlotte’s Web.
First, about the author, E.B. White. According to my research, the book was his most famous novel. More than 45 million copies were sold. The author won important awards for the book, and it has been printed in 23 languages.
(I must digress here. It is hard for me to believe that your speech, which you call language, is not the same everywhere. If I meet a cat from another place in the world, I can still communicate with it with no problem. I might not understand the words its two-legged speaks, but telepathy is telepathy.)
Since we transmit images, we understand each other perfectly. The two-leggeds seem to be so divided, always arguing about things. Perhaps if they all spoke the same language they would understand each other better.
This book confused me totally. Oh, I understand why it won awards. It is because the characters interact in ways that teach youngsters positive lessons.
But, why did the author choose these particular characters? The two-legged girl is okay, but a pig and a spider? Give me a break!
Don’t get me wrong. I like spiders. I like to push them around with my paw, and I like to eat them. They are crunchy and tasty, if you don’t mind all their wiggly parts.
I hear there are spiders that can kill you if they bite you. I guess I’ve been lucky, because I have never eaten one of them.
As to the pig, I must admit I have never seen a pig. However, I have seen pictures and I have read about them. They love big, muddy places. They love getting that mud all over them. Yuck! I would hate it! I spend a great deal of time each day washing my beautiful coat to keep any mud off it.
And a rat? Now, there is a no-good creature if I ever saw one. He’s a cunning, thieving beast, and he doesn’t even taste good. Personally, I can’t understand why Fern didn’t find a soft, cuddly cat for a pet.
Why these characters? I think perhaps the author selected these three — the pig, the spider, and the rat, to demonstrate that there can be good in any creature, no matter how lowly. It is a good lesson to take from this book.
For example, the spider, though tiny, disgusts or even frightens many two-leggeds. Perhaps the author is trying to give the spider some “good press” for a change.
Now, on to the story. New piglets are born on the farm. Fern, the little girl, learns that her father is going to slaughter one pig because he is weak and the smallest of the litter. Fern begs her father not to kill the pig, but to give it to her.
Her father gives her the pig and at first, she feeds it with a baby bottle. She names the pig Wilbur. The two bond.
When Wilbur has grown bigger and stronger, he is sent to Fern’s uncle’s farm. Fern visits as often as she can. Here, Wilbur meets the other animals on the farm and becomes special friends with Charlotte, the spider.
Wilbur learns he is to be slaughtered that fall. He does not want to end up as meat for the table, so Charlotte agrees to help him.
She spins words into the web. Her first ones are “some pig.” Fern’s uncle sees the words and thinks it is some kind of miracle. Charlotte gets assistance from Templeton, a rat, who finds her labels and scraps of paper to make more signs for the web.
Wilbur is entered in the State Fair. The rat and the spider accompany him. Charlotte spins her web at his stall at the fair and adds her words describing the little animal. Crowds gather to see him and the words in the web. Now he has become too famous to be turned into roast pig.
What would it be like to go through your life knowing you would soon be killed so your body could be eaten? How horrible! I am very glad no one where I live eats cats. I would much rather keep all of me inside my fur coat, uncooked, thank you very much!
I have never been to a state fair. However, we cats are sometimes taken to a special show featuring all kinds of cats. The judges pick the best and give medals or ribbons to the two-leggeds these cats own.
It amuses me that the judges are all two-leggeds. It seems cats could be best judged by other cats, but what do I know?
There comes a time when Fern’s mother takes her to see a Dr. Dorian, concerned because the girl believes animals can talk. Dr. Dorian says the real miracle is not the writing in the web, but that the spider knows without any lessons how to weave her web.
He says it is quite possible that animals can talk and that the reason adult two-leggeds can’t hear them is because they talk too much to hear what is going on in nature. It has occurred to me that maybe this girl understood animal telepathy.
Charlotte spins a sack for the eggs she will soon lay. She knows she will die afterward, and gives the eggs to Wilbur to take back to the farm, asking him to guard them until they hatch.
After the eggs hatch, most of the spiders leave, but three stay to keep Wilbur company. Wilbur spends the rest of his life on the farm.
It seems to me that the author hopes that two-legged readers will learn something from this story. If lowly creatures give a great message, perhaps that message will influence the readers in very good ways.
Another author, Eudora Welty, described the book as “a book about friendship on earth, affection and protection, adventure and miracle, life and death, trust and treachery, pleasure and pain, and the passing of time…just about magical in the way it is done.”
I can see that the story contains all those elements. I just feel the author could have selected different animals to teach his lessons.
To get your own hardcover copy of this book, Charlotte’s Web, click on the image or on the blue book title. You will be taken to Amazon, where you will be able to purchase the book. Please note that, as an Amazon associate, I may receive a small commission for your purchase.
by E.B. White
18 thoughts on “Lucinda Brings You Another of Her Children’s Book Reviews”
what a wonderful post-CCL
Lucinda, I understand you so well even I have only 2 legs you see I know you and your friends can communicate as I have seen this happen often when I am fishing
I see a lot of your friends there waiting patiently for some fresh fish and once word gets out whole families turn up for these morsels
You are indeed very clever
Lucinda will love your comment, Vicki. Glad you liked it, and happy to know you have witnessed this silent communication between animals.
It’s been a while since I read Charlotte’s Web – thank you for your unique perspective of the story. I do remember watching a film version in school as well and being quite sad about it all – probably because Charlotte did so much but ended up dying.
What age group would you say this book is appropriate for?
Thanks much for your comments! Yes, it would be a little sad for children, but that’s the way things happen, isn’t it? I think children from, say, five to ten, might like this book. The younger ones might not understand it unless they are very familiar with animals, and the older ones would probably say it’s for kids. On the other hand, one person commented that often the adult gets the message, even though it is written for children.
Hi, I just came over the wild cat post on this website.
I love the idea that you also write about cat books. I’ts soon time for Christmas presents and you gave me an idea here.
You’re a good writer too, love to read your story here, thanks 🙂
Actually I remember this story with the piglet, the spider and the little girl. Just don’t remember from where. Is it a cartoon movie as well?
Yes, “Charlotte’s Web” was also made into an animated movie. That must have been fun to watch! Thanks for the comment on my writing…I am still learning, but do enjoy writing. Glad you liked it. If you check out my other posts, there is another one with children’s books that are all about cats. You might enjoy looking at that one. Thanks for your comment.
I used to read Charlotte’s Web as a kid, I loved the book and the drawings that came with it. The animated movie they made for it was okay, it’s really old so I can’t remember. That was back when we had a VCR. How times fly.
But if you’re one to feel empathy for sentient animals, this book can be really sad, especially for a children’s book. But that’s the trend with children’s stories. They always have a really dark undertone only adults can pick up.
You make a good point about the dark undertone. I think many of these kids’ stories do have that. Perhaps the author is really trying to teach the adults, and reaches them through the children. You think? Anyway, thanks for the comment — I appreciate it.
Lucinda, this is a very interesting take on a classic novel. I appreciate your background story. Telling me how your view was developed is very helpful in my own, two-legged understanding of your review.
I would personally like to thank your CCL for her interpretation of your keystrokes. I imagine that, with such limited flexibility in your paws that typing presents a challenge even without the distraction of a mouse sitting right there, unaware that a cat is perilously nearby.
I must ask, is the spider a distraction in your reading? My own four-legged feline friends are completely bewildered by spiders. This observation is why I do not find it surprising that your review would be a story about a spider. Perhaps the story was about a pig, but I imagine from your perspective, it was about the spider.
While the story is, indeed, about animals and insects, there is a message in this story that is meant for two-leggeds. One that makes us fell all warm and fuzzy inside (Much like the outside of a cat).
Thank you for your interpretation of this story. Your review was a refreshing read.
(From the CCL) …and that was a refreshing review! Yes, the typing is a challenge, but modern technology helps. These new keyboards take such a small amount of power. We both admit that she may leave out a word or two now and then, so I have to fill in…don’t pass that information around…I did enjoy your small essay, and appreciate the time that you put in to creating it. Thanks!
This is the first time reading anything by Lucinda and what a pleasure. Of course cats are amazingly clever. Lucinda, I love your opinion on Charlotte’s Web and can understand why wonder at the authors choice of animals. There are lessons to be learned but surely they could quite easily be taught by cats.
As you say we humans need to speak less and listen more. Think we have sadly lost that skill. We all feel we need to be heard.
Will be looking out for your next Book Review. Thank you for writing this so well, especially as with kitty paws not so easy to use a computer.
Since Lucinda has me write reviews for her, let me say that she will appreciate your comments. “I have done other reviews on my CCL’s site. You might read the first one, and you will understand how I got this job.” That’s a direct quote to you from Herself. Both of us are glad you enjoyed your visit and would always welcome you back.
We already know that your reading, writing, story-telling etc skills are amazing! Khmm … I mean for a four-legged ….
This is why CCL is keep pushing you to write more and more reviews for us … Which is awesome! Khmm … At least for us …
So … Charlotte’s Web …
Well, I won’t lie … I haven’t read it 🙁
So, I guess I’ll have to follow your lead on this one …
And yes, you are right. I’ve read your to-the-point yet entertaining review and I think that the most important message is this:
THERE CAN BE GOOD IN ANY CREATURE.
Thanks for reminding us!
Pssst … Have you read The Ugly Five by Julia Donaldson? … Maybe a good topic for your next review?
Thank you so much for your comments. Lucinda will appreciate them, I am sure. Hmm…The Ugly Five, you say? We will have to look into it. Right now, she says it is time for kitty dinner. Guess I’d better feed her. We are both glad you enjoyed the review.
Lucinda, I love you. You really are quite intelligent. I think you and I may be a bit alike. I am telepathic also. NO, not really but you make it sound fun. But in a way, we do think alike. I like to look at things differently also and I love the way you see the rat. He is quite atrocious. Since I am 2 legged and you are 4 legged you may not appreciate the comparison. But I do love the way you write a book review. It is incredible. I shall be sharing your story. Who knows you may become famous.
Keep up the great reviews.
Laura, thank you for the wonderful comment. I will be sure to tell Lucinda about it. She will be so pleased. I don’t know if I should tell her you think she might become famous, as then she might become a hoity-toity cat. Actually, she did well, so I guess I should tell her. She will appreciate it.
Nailed it. These reviews really should be published as a book! We need the delightful humor that can only come from the Cat’s perspective. The pictures you draw with your incredible style & talent make the stories come alive in my mind. Please, please, please give us more!
Nancy, I am so glad you enjoyed Lucinda’s reviews. We are working on another one (Lucinda is allowing me to make a comment on this one). I will have it up soon. Perhaps there will be a book in the future. You might enjoy my “Carlos” book, which is about my last wonderful cat. In chapter 10, which is the longest in the book, he tells his story from his perspective. So, you see, I had practice before hiring Lucinda.