Children’sliterature is very critical since it helps in children inunderstanding different life aspects that are critical in their lives(Gamble& Yates,2008. Pp42). Children’s literature is also critical in helpingchildren know how to read and make meanings out of the readings. Mostof the children’s literature has pictures rather than using plaintexts. The use of pictures in children’s literature have become ofimportance because the pictures help in enhancing theunderstandability of the text used in the literature (Grenby,2008. Pp28). In this assignment, Charlotte’sWeband Granpa will be analyzed their summary will be provided andthemes analyzed.
Historyof Authors and Year Books were Written
E.B.White is the author of the book Charlotte`sWeb.E.B. White became born in 1899 in New York. He joined the New Yorkermagazine in 1927 and held the position of a writer and contributingeditor a position that he came to hold for the rest of his career.This author wrote children books such as the StuartLittlein 1945 and Charlotte`sWebin 1952. Besides, he revised (in 1959) TheElements of Stylethat was authored by the late William Strunk (Elledge, 1984. Pp22).On the other hand, John Burningham is the author of Granpa.John Burningham became born in 1936 and has developed his career asan English author as well as an illustrator of books of children,especially picture books meant for young kids. John Burningham hasauthored many books among them Courtney(2007), Granpa(1984), Cloudland (2007), and Taid(2010) just to mention.
Genreof Books and Brief Summary
Thegenre of this book is children’s literature, speculative fiction.The book is about a pig that is named Wilbur and his companionshipwith a barn spider that is named Charlotte. In the beginning of thebook, when Fern learns that her dad (Arable) intends to kill apiglet, she begs him not to and he relents and instead gives Fern theduty of looking after the piglet. Fern accepts to raise the pigletand names it Wilbur (White, 1977. Pp3). When Wilbur matures, Arablemakes a suggestion to Fern to sell the animal and Fern goes ahead andsells the animal to Zuckerman, her uncle, for six dollars and theuncle allows Fern to visit Wilbur at any time she desires. At thefarm of Zuckerman, Wilbur is lonely and none of the animals of thefarm would play with him. However, finally a comforting voice comesto Wilbur and tells him that she would be his friend. During the nextmorning, Wilbur meets Charlotte, a vast gray spider whose webstretched above the door of Wilbur’s pen. Although Wilbur isinitially afraid of the bloodthirsty nature of this spider, in theend the two become dear pals. When Wilbur discovers from the oldsheep that Zuckerman has a plan of killing Wilbur for Christmasdinner, he turns to Charlotte for assistance. Charlotte assuresWilbur that she would device a plan of saving his life and after somedays a plan comes upon Charlotte. Charlotte starts spinning messagesin her web that praise Wilbur and have the desired effect ofsurprising the townspeople and Zuckerman. Zuckerman becomesthoughtful with the wonders of his pig and decides booking in Wilburto a competition at the County Fair. Through the assistance ofCharlotte, Wilbur proceeds to the fair and wins top prize forZuckerman, which ensured that he does not go for slaughter. While atthe fair, Charlotte reaches the end of her lifespan and lays her eggsand weaves an egg sac, which makes her too weak to continue assistingWilbur. With the assistance from Templeton the rat, Wilbur is able tosalvage the eggs of Charlotte and transport them to the Zuckerman’sbarn. Upon hatching of the eggs, most of the baby spiders move tobuild their webs elsewhere, but three of Charlotte’s daughters stayat Zuckerman’s barn offering friendship to Wilbur.
Thegenre of this book is a graphic novel/illustration for children. Thisbook portrays an association amid a little girl and her grandfather.There is a mixture of stories by the grandfather and the child thetwo are pictured take pleasure in varied activities together such aseating ice cream, singing, and fishing. Towards the conclusion of thebook, the girl elucidates that granpa cannot go out to play. The girlis pictured sitting on the lap of the granpa watching television(Burningham,2003. Pp14).The book concludes heartbreakingly with an illustration of thegranpa’s empty chair and the girl sitting lonely looking at it.
Differentthemes have been depicted from the two books. From the Charlotte`sWeb,the themes of nature, language, loyalty, friendship, justice, and thecycles of life and death have been portrayed. On the other hand, inthe Granpa,the themes of love, relationship, illness, loss, family, and deathhave been depicted.
Studieson the Books
Studiesdone by Elizabeth Kennedy, a children’s books expert, indicate thatin writing the book Charlotte`sWeb,E.B. White had some qualms, especially in the case of pigs concerningthe practice of being involved in caring for animals and laterslaughtering them for food. Prior to writing this book, White hadexpressed this concern. The scheme of purchasing a spring pig duringblossom time, rearing it through summer and fall, and slaughtering itduring the solid cold weather appears to be a familiar scheme andpattern followed by different individuals. This study shows that E.B.White was familiar with the scheme or had some clues about it priorto writing his book. Studies on the Charlotte`sWebalso indicate that the idea of writing the book came to the authorone day, when he was on his way down through an orchard carrying apail of slops to his pigs. The author had made up his mind in writinga children’s book concerning animals and he needed a way of savinga pig’s life (Detweiler&Bustard,2013. Pp7). Since he had been watching a vast spider in thebackhouse, the idea of spider saving the pig came to him and decidedto write the book. Besides, studies on the book indicate that thebook tells of a story of animals in E.B. White’s barn and notindividuals in his life. Furthermore, studies indicate that prior towriting this book the author had fully acquainted himself with thechief characters and understood their habits, temperaments, andcapabilities. This was feasible because he had a farm with thesechief characters.
Studieson Granpaindicates that children do not only understand temporality in thebook, but also have sophisticated ideas of time in general, whichtends to challenge the stereotype that kids lack a mature sense oftime. According to the studies conducted, narration in Granpais simple, but not linear. It has no obvious chronological order,which can make temporality difficult for kids to grasp. According tothe studies, Granpacontains an ambiguous story time since it is not known when thenarrative begins and when it concludes. For example, page one depictsan old man opening arms for a young girl the spread of arms seemsisolated because it does not tell the reader where, when, and whythis takes place. It has not been indicated where the young girlcomes from or what makes her come to the old man. Besides, since theyare indoors, it is impossible to tell which season it is, or whattime of the day it is. However, as one progresses to page twoonwards, it is possible to tell the season. Studies also indicatethat although the book is targeted to an audience of 4-9 years ofage, it can also be used in appealing to adults since it comprises ofcomplex themes like death.
Reviewson the Books
Differentfamous authors have reviewed this book. One of the famous writersthat have reviewed this book is Holly Hartman. Holly Hartman is awriter of children’s literature and she is famous because of herbook Grandpa’sSecret Portion.In providing a review for this book, Holly Hartman argues that thebarnyard of Charlotte`sWeb seemedreal in every aspect, and so did the habits of the animals involvedin writing the book (Holly, 2007. Pp1). She is of the opinion thatdespite Charlotte’s stylish vocabulary, she still remains to be aspider that traps flies and sucks their blood. In the book, a spidersaves a pig from being slaughtered holly provides that in real lifethe authors of this book had tried to save a pig, but failed. Inwriting the review, Holly writes about the friendship that developsbetween the pig and the spider (Holly,2007. Pp3).
Anotherwriter that has reviewed Charlotte’sWebis Anthony Esolen. Esolen is a famous magazine writer and aprofessor. From the review of Anthony, it is apparent that E.B. Whitehad studied the behavior of spider in making different patterns priorto writing his book (Anthony,2011. Pp2).This is indicated in his life as he used to take care of animals inhis farm. It is through the review that it is revealed that E.B.White had spent entire year learning about the different species ofspiders, kinds of lines that they could spin, and their feedinghabits. This made him prepared to write about the spider with thehonesty it deserved. The theme of friendship becomes enhancedappreciated in this review. Besides, Chloe Schama, a writer of theSmithsonian magazinehas also written a review on Charlotte’sWeb.According to her review, E.B. White became inspired to writeCharlotte’sWebby the love he had for nature and animals. Chloe is of the idea thatE.B. White had spent some time with an ailing pig, which he hadinitially intended to slaughter. The pig later died this became partof the motivation for writing Charlotte’sWeb.
Oneof the writers that have written a review on Granpais Nicolette Jones. Nicolette presents the idea that prior to writingGranpa,John Burningham had developed an interest in art. This made it easyto combine pictures and words to deliver different messages to histargeted audience. According to Nicolette, Burningham has become aspecialist in how to move glass and masonry across counties. Besides,apart from having an eye for illustrating, the writer of this book isindicated to have an imagination that helps him to think big.Nicolette also reviews the theme of relationship in the book, whichis depicted amid Emily and the grandfather. Also, from MackeyMargeret, Granpahasalso been appreciated because it helps young readers in tacklingmaterials beyond their usual repertoire. According to Mackey, JohnBurningham has succeeded in using pictures instead of pure print intraining kids using the book Granpa.Itis through this review that it has been made clear that thegrandfather in Granpais a fictional one (Margeret, 1993. Pp8). This indicates therelationship that young kids should have with their grandparents.From Mackey’s review, it is apparent that the colored pictures inJohn’s book well supports the dialogue presented on the pages.According to her, the book is rich in inspecting how children canlearn to read in the present world.
Themeof friendship is one of the themes that come out clearly in theCharlotte’sWeb. Right from the beginning of this book up to the end of it, the themeis well depicted. The theme of friendship is first indicated in thebook between Wilbur and Fern. At the beginning of the book, thereader is introduced into a situation, where Arable does not want tokeep the pig because of its mess. In fact, he wants to kill the smallpig however, Fern is a friend to the small pig and does not want herfather to kill the pig (Detweiler&Bustard,2013. Pp11). This makes Fern beg her father not to kill the pig,which he agrees, but gives Fern a responsibility of taking care ofthe pig. Because of the friendship between the two, Fern is seentaking care of the small pig up to the time she becomes mature. Thefriendship of Fern and Wilbur is perceived to be great since evenafter Wilbur being sold to Zuckerman’s farm, Fern is stillinterested in visiting Wilbur. Another friendship that is evidentfrom this book entails that of Charlotte and Wilbur. When Wilburjoins other animals in Mr. Zuckerman’s farm, he becomes lonelyinitially, but eventually gets Charlotte as friend. The friendshipbetween the two is amazing since the two get along very well. Thefriendship between Charlotte and Wilbur is indicated where Charlotteoffers herself to save Wilbur from being slaughtered. Besides, Wilburalso shows his friendship to Charlotte by taking care of her eggs inorder to extend the next generation of Charlotte. For Wilbur andCharlotte, friendship can be seen to imply being loyal towardsanother and even to an extent of making sacrifices. AlthoughCharlotte and Wilbur have their quarrels sometimes Wilbur is littleself-involved and Charlotte is not patient enough sometimes, the twofriends watch out for one another when it really counts. The twoprove to the audience that friendship is great and important and mayeven last after the death of Charlotte.
Relationshipis another theme that is well depicted in the Charlotte’sWeb.In the book, there is animal to animal relationship and human toanimal relationship. These relationships emerge from the beginning ofthe book up to the conclusion of the book. In the beginning of thebook, the relationship between human and animal is evident since thereader is introduced into a relationship of Fern and Wilbur. Ferntakes care of Wilbur as if she was Wilbur’s mother. Thisrelationship is extended from Arable’s farm to Zuckerman’s farmsince Fern has an extended love for Wilbur. Animal to animalrelationship becomes evident in the book, when Wilbur leaves Arable’sfarm and joins Zuckerman’s farm (Detweiler&Bustard,2013. Pp44). When Wilbur joins the farm, she feels lonely, butCharlotte assures him of her friendship. The two get into arelationship of caring upon each other. When Wilbur is in a problem,he informs his friend Charlotte, who values their relationshipbecause she offers assistance to Wilbur. After the death ofCharlotte, the relationship between Wilbur and Charlotte is noted tohave been so strong because Wilbur extends the relationship to herdaughters.
Inthe Granpa,John has also depicted the theme of friendship and relationship. Thetheme of friendship can be well depicted in the book through theactions of the Emily and the grandfather. The grandfather emerges asa great friend to his grandchild, Emily through different actions.For instance, in the beginning of the book, the grandfather is seenopening his arms ready to hug her granddaughter, which symbolizes thefriendship that they have. Besides, the granpa and his granddaughterare seen to spend a lot of time together doing different thingstogether, which indicate the friendship that they have. For instance,the granpa is depicted being involved in playing games together withhis granddaughter. A good example is where the granpa nurses the dollof his granddaughter in a playful. The two have a strong friendshipbond because they are depicted to enjoy time together. When the chairof the grandfather is left empty, the young girl is left withloneliness, which shows the kind of friendship that they had sinceshe still needs to spend more time with the grandfather. The othertheme that is well indicated in the book is that of relationship.There is a family relationship between Emily and the granpa therelationship is that of a grandfather and granddaughter. Therelationship between the two is seen to be strong, judging from thegranpa happily playing the role of a grandfather and making hergranddaughter feel loved.
Differenttheories can be used in analyzing the children’s literature thesetheories include postmodernism, feminist, orientalism,reader-response, post-structuralism, and structuralism theory. Thesetheories will be used in comparing and contrasting the themes inGranpaand Charlotte’sWeb.According to postmodernism theory, postmodern literature can becharacterized by the use of narrative techniques like paradox,fragmentation, and an unreliable narrator (Bertens,1997. Pp54). Themes of friendship and relationship from the two booksare similar in that they did not rely on the postmodernism. This isbecause the books did not rely on characteristics of postmodernismsuch as using unreliable narrators in depicting these themes.Besides, Post-structuralism is of the idea that the intended meaningof the author is secondary to the meaning of the reader. Besides, itrejects literary text from having one meaning or a single purpose. Assuch, this theory leads to similarities in the analysis of thefriendship and relationship from the two books. This emanates fromthe idea that the meanings attached to the different presentations ofthe books, hen analyzing the themes, can have different meanings.
Besides,through the use of the feminist theory, the themes of friendship andrelationship have similarities from the two books. The similarity inthese themes is that female characters have been involved. InCharlotte’sWeb,Fern and Charlotte are the characters that have been linked with thethemes of friendship, while in Granpa,Emily is the female character that is depicted to be involved in thethemes of friendship and relationship. Also, through Margaret Meek’sargument of knowingness in young readers, the two books are similarin discussing the themes of relationship and friendship. This isbecause the readers’ knowledge obtained from the two books would beused in analyzing the two themes.
Accordingto the reader-response theory, the reader or the audience is seen asa critical agent in participating actively in the creation ofexperience and meaning of a literary work (Karolides,1997. Pp82). Picture books generally give readers the authority ofparticipating directly in giving meaning to whatever has beenpresented. In Granpa,the author has a great authority in attaching meaning to the picturesthat the author uses. However, when it comes to Charlotte’sWeb,the reader is not considered as a critical agent in creating meaningto the contents of the book. Therefore, when it comes to the analysisof the themes of friendship and relationship, the two books have adifference because the reader can attach meanings to the contents ofGranpa,but this not the case when it comes to Charlotte’sWeb.
Onthe other hand, orientalism theory entails imagining, emphasizing,and axaggerating the differences between the West and the Eastespecially in terms of culture (Said,1995. Pp36). The behavior or culture represented in Charlotte’sWebis a representation of normal behavior that can be expected indifferent cultures. However, when it comes to Granpa,the culture presented in the book may not apply normally to othercultures. For instance, the book shows different aspects such asvisiting the beach, ice skating, and using dolls to play asconstituting daily life activities, which may not be the case inother cultures. Thus, there is a difference in the themes offriendship and relationship based on this theory.
Structuralismargues that human culture can be comprehended through the means of astructure that differs from abstract ideas and concrete reality.Structuralism enables the reading of cultures and reading of texts(Sheriff,2003. Pp74). Structuralism makes individuals see everything ascomposed of signs and governed through conventions of meaning. Sinceeverything is seen as text, there is a difference in the themes offriendship and relationship in the two books. This is becauseCharlotte’sWeb ispresented as a text while Granpais presented in terms of pictures. This implies that, in analyzingthe themes, analysis will be different since it will be seen in termsof text in Charlotte’sWeband in terms of pictures in Granpa.
Alternatively,according to Smith, some books tend to be better compared to othersin the promotion of strong, healthy reading habits. Smith is of theopinion that picture books offer rich allusive experiences thatdevelop inter-textual thinking. From the Smith’s argument, picturebooks are better than books that contain text only. Given thisargument, there will be a difference in analyzing the themes providedin Granpaand Charlotte’sWebsince Granpawould offer allusive experiences that would aid in developinginter-textual thinking. Besides, according to Judith Graham, there isa difference amid picture books and illustrated books since removingpictures in picture books would have an impact in reading the book,but this would be a different story in illustrated books. Given thisdifference, it goes without saying that the analysis of the themescan be different, when pictures are removed in Gradpa,but the analysis would remain the same in Charlotte’sWebeven after removing the pictures.
Whodo you think is the main character in Granpaand Charlotte’sWeband what roles are played by the main character in the two books? InCharlotte’s web, I think the main character is Wilbur. This isbecause he has helped in building almost every part of the book. Fromthe beginning, Wilbur builds the first section by being introducedinto the story. In fact, Wilbur has made it possible to introduceother characters in the story. Still in the middle and conclusion,this character is active, which makes him the chief character. Wilburplays different roles in the book. First, he helps in the building ofthe plot of the book this is because he appears from the start ofthe story to the end. Second, he plays the role of developing the keythemes in the book. For instance, he has helped in the building thethemes of friendship, relationship and love. It is through thischaracter that the reader gets to see the relationship and friendshipbetween him and other characters like Charlotte and Fern. On theother hand, the main character in Granpais the grandfather. This is because he is introduced in the book inthe beginning and continues to keep to the main story of the book upto the end. The main character in Granpaplays the role of building the plot of the book and main themes inthe book. For example, it is through the actions of the grandfathersuch as playing games with Emily that the theme of friendship andlove becomes developed. In case, the grandfather was not there, thechief ideas in the book could not be achieved. The main characters inthe two books have a similarity in that they are male charactershowever, the characters differ in that the main character inCharlotte’sWebis an animal, while in Granpathe main character is a human being.
Whatdo you think about the ending of the two books? The ending of bothbooks leaves the reader with questions that are answered. InCharlotte’sWeb,the reader is left with the question as to whether Wilbur willcontinue to live given that his helper has died. Besides, will hecontinue to impress Mr. Zuckerman without the help of Charlotte? Willthe children of Charlotte continue helping Wilbur to survive or willWilbur find another friend whom he can rely on in order to skip beingslaughtered? In Granpa,the reader is left with the question as to whether the grandfatherhas died or not? This is because the grandfather’s chair isdepicted as empty at the end of the book. Besides, it is not clearwhether the girl will find another person to live with after thegrandfather is gone. The two books also have a similar ending sincethere is death at the end and the characters that die are old enough.In Charlotte’sWeb,Charlotte dies because of her age while in Granpathe grandfather also dies due to his age. However, the two books havea difference in the way they end. In Granpa,the book ends with sorrow since a grandfather, who is a friend toEmily dies, while in Charlotte’s Web, the book ends with some sortof jubilation since Zuckerman wins the best prize and Wilbur escapesfrom being slaughtered. Another difference between the two books isthat the characters that die at the end are different a malecharacter dies in Granpawhile a female character dies in Charlotte’sWeb.
Anthony,E. (2011), Some Pig, Some Book. TheWall Street Journal.
Bertens,J. (1997), Internationalpostmodernism: Theory and literary practice,Amsterdam [u.a.: Benjamin.
Burningham,J. (2003) , Granpa.Red Fox, London
Courtney,G., & Jossart, S. (1998), Storydramas for grades 4-6: A new literature experience for children,Glenview, Ill: Addison-Wesley Education Publishers.
Detweiler,L., & Bustard, N. (2003), Charlotte`sweb comprehension guide,Lancaster, PA: Veritas Press.
Eagleton,M. (2010), Feministliterary theory,A reader.Wiley.
Elizabeth,K (n.d), E.B.White on Charlotte’s Web and Farm Life
Elledge,S. (1984),  E.B.White: A Biography,New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Gamble,N., & Yates, S. (2002), Exploringchildren`s literature: Teaching the language and reading of fiction,London: Paul Chapman.
Gamble,N., & Yates, S. (2008), Exploringchildren`s literature,Los Angeles: SAGE.
Grenby,M. (2008), Children`sliterature,Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Holly,H. (2007). Charlotte’sWeb: Spotlight on the popular children’s book.Retrieved from http://www.factmonster.com/spot/charlottes-web.html
Iser,W. (2000), Prospecting:From reader response to literary anthropology,Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Karolides,N. J. (1997), Readerresponse in the classroom: Evoking and interpreting meaning inliterature.Mahwah, N.J: L. Erlbaum.
Madsen,D. L. (2000), Feministtheory and literary practice,London: Pluto Press.
Margeret,M. (1993), PictureBooks and the Making of Readers:ANew Trajectory,University of Alberta.
Said,E. W. (1995), Orientalism,New Delhi: Penguin Books.
Scloe,S. (n.d), HowE.B. White Wove Charlotte’s Web,SMITHSONIAN.COM
Sheriff,J. K. (2003), Thefate of meaning: Charles Peirce, structuralism, and literature,Princeton,New Jersey : Princeton University Press.
Stierstorfer,K. (2003), Beyondpostmodernism: Reassessments in literature, theory, and culture,Berlin: W. de Gruyter.
White,E. B. (1977), Essaysof E.B. White,New York: Harper & Row, Publishers.