By: Kristy Woodson Harvey
One of the most fun parts of being a parent for me is re-reading some of my favorite classic books from childhood. Since I’m an author and an avid reader, that probably isn’t a big surprise! These past few weeks while I have been on tour for my new novel, Lies and Other Acts of Love, I have been reading my four-year-old son one of my all-time favorite books, and, arguably, one of the most beautifully constructed works of literature ever: Charlotte’s Web.
In the unlikely even that you don’t know it, it’s a book about a pig and a spider. And an annoying goose and a grumpy rat and some pretty uppity lambs. At first glance, this story about talking barnyard animals doesn’t seem like something that could change the world. But I have found myself awestruck with the power of this little book this past week, and it is going on my “grown-up required reading list.” Because I just don’t think that, as a child, I really understood what E.B. White was trying to convey.
Not only is Charlotte’s Web a beautiful tale that handles birth and death and the importance of each of them to the circle of life, but it deftly handles the idea that we don’t have to look alike or talk alike or even be a member of the same species to love each other, to relate to each other and to find the incredible, astounding things that we have in common.
In an even larger way, the relationship between a little pig and a little spider shows that you don’t even have to agree with each other all the time to still appreciate one another’s opinions—as is most strongly felt in the case of Wilbur being quite disturbed that his friend Charlotte survives by killing flies and drinking their blood. It’s a pretty big flaw to overlook. But, despite her more unsavory proclivities, that soft-spoken spider has one huge heart.
And she is full of incredible advice. Charlotte’s Web has been a reminder of something that I need to hold onto, especially during this past three and a half weeks of being on book tour with my four-year-old son: “Never hurry and never worry.”
In the world in which we live, sometimes it seems like we’re all trying to win a prize for who can be the busiest, whose schedule can be the most daunting. And I have been pleased to find that, lately, what I care about most is finding those quiet moments with my husband and my son, those spots of peace to do nothing. And, oh my goodness, not even feel guilty about it!
As a child, I know for sure that I didn’t, even for a second, consider that this book about life on a farm was about the power of words. As a writer, one of the truths that I hold most dear is the idea that words can connect people and change lives, that a simple sentence can spark imagination and open up our world in ways we never could have imagined. And, at their very finest, words can save lives, as Charlotte’s Web proves and some of you, my reader and writer friends, would probably agree.
These new friends, these people I have met along the way, along this journey to getting my books out into the world, have been the very best perk of the job, an unexpected bonus that has enriched my life in ways I never could have imagined.
The bloggers and reporters who have talked about my books, the readers who have bought and shared them and my fellow writers who have taught me so much about this business, helped me navigate the path down which I am heading, are people for which I am forever, forever grateful.
As it says in Charlotte’s Web, “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.” Along this journey I have been lucky enough to find so many people who, like Charlotte, happen to be both.
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