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Charlotte's Web

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Charlotte's Web
Author(s) E. B. White
Illustrator Garth Williams
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Children
Publisher HarperCollins
Publication date 1952
Media type Print
Pages 192 pp
ISBN ISBN 0-06-028298-3

Charlotte's Web is a children's book by acclaimed American author E. B. White. First published in 1952, it tells the story of a barn spider named Charlotte and her friendship with a pig named Wilbur. The book was illustrated by Garth Williams.

Publishers Weekly listed the book as the best-selling children's paperback of all time as of 2000.

Plot summary

This book begins when John Arable's sow gives birth to a litter of piglets, and Mr. Arable discovers one of them is a runt and decides to kill it. However, his 8 year old daughter Fern begs him to let it live. Therefore her father gives it to Fern as a pet, and she names the runt Wilbur.

Wilbur is hyperactive and always exploring new things. He lives with Fern for a few weeks and then is sold to her uncle, Homer Zuckerman. Although Fern visits him at the Zuckermans' farm as often as she can, Wilbur gets lonelier day after day. Eventually, a warm and soothing voice tells him that she is going to be his friend. The next day, he wakes up and meets his new friend: Charlotte, the gray spider. Wilbur soon becomes a member of the community of animals who live in the cellar of Zuckerman's barn.

When the old sheep in the barn cellar tells Wilbur that he is going to be killed and eaten at Christmas, he turns to Charlotte for help. Charlotte has the idea of writing words in her web extolling Wilbur's excellence (such as "SOME PIG"), reasoning that if she can make Wilbur sufficiently famous, he will not be killed. Thanks to Charlotte's efforts, Wilbur not only lives, but goes to the county fair--with Charlotte--and wins a prize.

Due to the short lifespan of spiders, Charlotte dies at the fair. Wilbur repays Charlotte by bringing home with him the sac of eggs (her " magnum opus") she had laid at the fair before dying. When Charlotte's eggs hatch at Zuckerman's farm and most of Charlotte's daughters leave to make their own lives elsewhere, three (Nellie, Aranea and Joy) remain there as friends to Wilbur.

Sales and recognition

Aside from its paperback sales, Charlotte's Web is 78th on the all-time bestselling hardback book list. According to publicity for the 2006 film adaptation (see below), the book has sold more than 45 million copies and been translated into 23 languages. It was a Newbery Honours book for 1953, losing to Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark for the medal.

In 1970, White won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, a major prize in the field of children's literature, for Charlotte's Web, along with his first children's book, Stuart Little, published in 1945.

Film adaptations

1973 version

The book was adapted into an animated feature by Hanna-Barbera Productions and Sagittarius Productions in 1973. The film, distributed to theatres by Paramount Pictures on February 22, 1973, is one of only two Hanna-Barbera features not based upon one of their television cartoons— Heidi's Song (1982) being the other—and was a moderate critical and commercial success. The animated version was a musical film with lyrics and music by the Sherman Brothers, who had previously been responsible for the music in the family films like The Jungle Book (1967) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, (1968).

2003 version

This is the sequel of the 1999 movie, released directly to video by Paramount Pictures.

2006 version

Paramount Pictures, with Walden Media, Kerner Entertainment Company, and Nickelodeon Movies, produced a live-action/animated film starring Dakota Fanning as Fern. It was released on December 15, 2006. Special effects were by Fuel International, Digital Pictures Iloura, Proof (studio), Rhythm and Hues Studios, Rising Sun Pictures, and Tippett Studio .


  • Charlotte gives her full name as "Charlotte A. Cavatica", revealing her as a barn spider, an orb-weaver with the scientific name Araneus cavaticus.
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