Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White

Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White

Melissa Sweet
For ages 8 to 10
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2016   ISBN: 978-0544319592

Elwyn Brooks White, known to his family members as En, developed a relationship with the written word very early in life. His big brother Stan taught him to read when En was five, and En went on to win his first writing contest when he was only nine. After this success, En started submitting stories to St. Nicholas, a monthly children’s magazine. The magazine’s St. Nicholas League hosted contests, and artists, photographers, and writers who were published received a gold or silver badge. En won both a silver and a gold medal for two of his animal stories.

It is not surprising that En then went on to write for his high school newspaper and for the Cornell Sun when he went to university. In fact he got so involved in the paper that he got a D in English in his second semester. En, who was now called Andy by his friends and family members, then took a history class with a professor whose words greatly inspired Andy. Thanks to professor Burr, Andy came to appreciate that being free to express oneself and share ideas was a powerful freedom to have. He began to think that perhaps he would become a professional writer.

After getting his degree, Andy got a few writing jobs that he did not like in the least and so he and a friend, Cush, got into a Model T that Andy bought, loaded it up with necessities like two typewriters and a dictionary, and headed west.

When he got to Seattle, after wandering across the country for six months, Andy got a job working as a reporter for the Seattle Times. Later, back in New York, his writing so impressed the folks at The New Yorker that they courted him, and finally Andy went to work full time for the magazine.

Andy ended up marrying a fellow writer who worked at The New Yorker, and in 1937, when their son Joel was seven, they all moved to a farm in Maine. Andy started writing articles about Maine and Maine life for Harper’s Magazine. One of the things that his wife did for The New Yorker was to review children’s books. Andy read many of the children’s books, but he did not really like most of them, though he loved The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss. He wrote an essay about children’s books, which inspired a children’s book librarian to write to Andy. In her letter the librarian suggested that Andy should write a children’s book himself. Andy already had a story that he had started working on about a mouse called Stuart Little, and six years later his book titled Stuart Little was published. Though many adults had problems with the story, children loved it. Thus it was that the essayist and author of adult books found that he had a natural affinity for writing books for young readers.

This wonderful illustrated biography takes readers into the life and world of E.B. White, the author who brought us Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan. The narrative is presented alongside wonderful annotated illustrations and photos, and excerpts from E.B. White’s writings. Though this is a book for young readers, adults will also be drawn to this title, which so beautifully captures the personality of an author whose written works have delighted both adults and children for decades.