Posts Tagged Charlotte’s Web

Big Ideas in Middle-Grade Novels

Writers of children’s books are often asked: “When are you going to write a book for adults?” This is a question that almost always causes consternation on the part of the writer, the subtext being that children’s books are somehow lesser creations and offer little in the way of big ideas or insight into the human condition. Readers of children’s books, however, know the folly of such a question. Books for children contain much wisdom, the kind that those who ask the above question would do well to ponder. Here below are just a few such passages. There are so many more, and I’d love to hear your favorites in the comments section.

HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE

“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” – J.K. Rowling

HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS

“It’s our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – J.K. Rowling

CORALINE

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” Neil Gaiman

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

LIAR & SPY

“Boredom is what happens to people who have no control over their minds.” – Rebecca Stead

THE MAGICIAN’S ELEPHANT

“It is important that you say what you mean to say. Time is too short. You must speak the words that matter.” – Kate DiCamillo

THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW

“For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are.” – C.S. Lewis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH

“You must never feel badly about making mistakes, explained Reason quietly, as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons.” – Norton Juster

THE BATTLE OF THE LABYRINTH

“But remember, boy, that a kind act can sometimes be as powerful as a sword.” – Rick Riordan

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES

“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.” – Lucy Maud Montgomery

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHARLOTTE’S WEB

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” – E.B. White

THE TWITS

“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” – Roald Dahl

WHEN MY NAME WAS KEOKO

“A mistake made with good in your heart is still a mistake, but it is one for which you must forgive yourself.” – Linda Sue Park

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Lines of Children’s Books Revised for a Pandemic + Contest

I was recently inspired by a blog post featuring the beginnings of ten classic novels for adults, rewritten for our time of social distancing. I thought it would be fun to do the same for some iconic middle-grade novels.

CONTEST: Take a look at the ones below, and then crank up your creativity to post the real first line and a revised first line of your favorite middle-grade book in the comments section. A panel of judges will choose a favorite on January 2, 2021 at 11:59 PM, and I’ll donate $50 to one of the following charities (winner’s choice): St. Jude, Feeding America, or Doctors Without Borders. I’ll post the winning entry on Sunday, January 3.

(Click on the titles and go to the Look Inside feature if you’d like to read the original first lines.)

 

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

“Where’s Papa going with that axe, and why isn’t he wearing a mask?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

It was a dark and stormy night, but no one cared because they were all sheltering in.

 

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, disinfecting his groceries with Lysol wipes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

“Christmas won’t be Christmas with just lousy gift cards,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly fine refusing to social distance from others in the grocery store, thank you very much.

 

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen, where she’d surely be roped into baking yet another loaf of sourdough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

When I left my office that beautiful spring day, I had no idea what was in store for me and that I should have stocked up on toilet paper on the way home.

 

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

We moved on the Tuesday before Labor Day. I knew the pandemic still wasn’t over the second I got up. I knew because my mother didn’t even bother to sniff under her arms.

 

Seven Wonders Book 1: The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis

On the morning I was scheduled to die a large barefoot man with a bushy red beard waddled past my house. Thankfully, he was more than six feet away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

Not every thirteen-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial and found guilty just because she forgot to cough into her elbow.

 

Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a Zoom party, there was much disappointment in Hobbiton.

 

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink because everyone is either working from home or being homeschooled, and it’s the only place where I can get some peace and quiet.