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

Book review by
Lucinda Dyer, Common Sense Media
Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White Book Poster Image
Enchanting illustrated bio of "Charlotte's Web" author.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Some Writer! is filled with things for readers to learn and it's all presented in a lively, inviting, and colorful way. There's a page on how a manual typewriter works, short bits about spiders and trumpeter swans, and lots of photos that show life at the turn of the 20th century. A map of the cross-country drive White took in 1922 is illustrated with the things he did to earn money during the trip: sandpapering a dance floor for $3 and winning $25 in a limerick contest. For any young reader who dreams of becoming a writer, the book is overflowing with examples and reflections on how a writer works, from White's quotes about life as a writer to manuscript pages from Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little that show White's crossed-out words and sentences and handwritten additions. White worked for several decades at the New Yorker, so it appears regularly in the story. In addition to White's own books, there are mentions of Walden, Winnie the Pooh, The Story of Ferdinand, and A Basic Chicken Guide for the Small Flock Owner.

Positive Messages

Inspiration awaits anyone who looks closely at the natural world that surrounds us. Being a writer can be fun, and some people can actually make a living out of it. Follow your dreams.

Positive Role Models & Representations

White knew from childhood that he wanted to be a writer and never wavered from pursuing (and ultimately achieving) that dream.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White is the captivating biography of the author of the children's classics Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan. Unlike many writers, White had an untroubled childhood, a long and devoted marriage, and a happy family and professional life. He loved the outdoors, his farm in Maine, and the many animals (both wild and tame) that were a part of his life from the time he was a small child. Author-illustrator Melissa Sweet, who illustrated the Caldecott Honor book The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, has filled the book with family photos, manuscript pages, and quotes from White, along with her own collages and watercolors. This story will delight young readers (as well as their parents) and inspire anyone who dreams of becoming a writer.

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What's the story?

SOME WRITER! is the biography of Elwyn Brooks White, who was born in New York City in 1899 and knew he wanted to be a writer "before I went into long pants." He began submitting short pieces (many about animals) to magazines while in elementary school and was first published at age 9. After college and a trip across the U.S. in a Model T Ford, White began writing for the New Yorker, a relationship that would continue for six decades. When he and his wife bought a small farm in Maine, he found himself "surrounded by new acquaintances" -- many of which would become characters in his books. Sweet offers some surprising behind-the-scenes looks at White's books: Stuart Little initially found little favor with librarians and was even banned by some libraries. In his later years, White became a reluctant celebrity and continued writing essays and poems. His last book for children, The Trumpet of the Swan, was published in 1970. He died at age 86 in 1985.

Is it any good?

The life of E.B. White, creator of Charlotte the spider, Wilbur the pig, and Stuart Little the mouse, comes alive in this colorful, captivating, and utterly delightful biography. The engaging and accessible text is lifted to the next level and beyond by Melissa Sweet's design, which resembles a scrapbook and incorporates archival photographs, original watercolors and collages, clippings, and diary and manuscript pages. Some Writer! is meant to be seen as well as read, so while some references (for example, to the New Yorker and why it was exciting that White shared an office with James Thurber) will resonate only with older readers, the book's visuals will allow even the youngest readers to immerse themselves in White's extraordinary life. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about deciding what you want to be in life. Some Writer! tells us that E.B. White knew from a very young age that he wanted to become a writer. Do you have a long list of careers you might like to have as an adult? Or is there only one on your list?

  • Have you ever thought about keeping a diary or journal? Would you handwrite it like E.B. White? Or would you use an app on your computer or phone?

  • Have you ever had a pet that would make a great character in a book or movie? Try writing a story about that animal. 

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