Sunday, April 05, 2015

The 11 greatest children’s books Culture’s Jane Ciabattari polled dozens of critics around the world about the best children’s books (for ages 10 and under) ever published in English. One of the top 11 on the list:
EB White, Charlotte’s Web (1952)

“One day when I was on my way to feed the pig, I began feeling sorry for the pig because, like most pigs, he was doomed to die,” writes White. Charlotte’s Web topped our critics’ poll. “If I were asked to put one book in a space capsule to send to some far-off galaxy to evoke life in all its complexity, I would send White's masterpiece about friendship, loss, resignation and mortality,” notes NPR’s Maureen Corrigan. “It was the first book in which I encountered mortality, legacy and love that transcended differences,” writes author and critic Rigoberto González. “Those were huge lessons from a book that, at its core, was about an adorable friendship between a spider and a pig.”

“The complex emotions that emerge from the barnyard in EB White’s masterpiece never cloy, but feel true and important,” writes novelist and critic Meg Wolitzer. “Who can forget the opening: Fern in her damp sneakers wrestling to save the life of the runt Wilbur?” asks Karen R Long, who manages the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. “Not just about loyalty and friendship, this perfect book is an introduction to metaphor – the barnyard as life,” says Chicago Tribune literary editor-at-large Elizabeth Taylor. Author and critic Joan Frank calls it “sturdy and deeply wise.” “White managed to write a children’s book that encompasses mortality, friendship, and the power of the written word — amazing”, adds critic Heller McAlpin. According to our poll, Charlotte’s Web is the greatest children’s book of all time.
Read about another entry on the list.

Charlotte's Web is among Holly Webb's ten top children's books on death and bereavement, Sara Brady's top six talking-animal characters she’d like to have a drink with, Joel Cunningham's favorite talking animals in fiction, Scott Greenstone's top twenty books with fewer than 200 pages, Mohsin Hamid's six favorite books and Sarah Lean's top ten animal stories; it is a book Kate DiCamillo hopes parents will read to their kids.

--Marshal Zeringue