I am currently reading Clara Charlotte’s Web in the evenings. She enjoys it, although it contains concepts that I’m sure are far over her head. And she is having a really difficult time recognizing Charlotte the spider as a good character, despite her efforts to save Wilbur the pig, simply because Charlotte explains in the beginning that she sometimes eats butterflies. Typically the rule, “Good Guys Don’t Eat Butterflies” is fairly universal. So, it’s difficult to read possibly the only children’s book where there is an exception.
As we sat down to read this evening I told her that we were now halfway through the book, and I asked her to predict how she thought the rest of the story would go.
She answered immediately. No hesitation at all. As if she had been waiting for me to ask this question. “A flower is going to grow in the barn.” She began. “And it’s going to be a giant sunflower. It’s going to grow and grow and grow until it’s high enough to reach Charlotte’s web in the corner of the barn door. And it’s going to completely surround her web, and block it so that the spider can no longer see her friends anymore, and no one can see her web. And Charlotte is going to ask the flower to move, so she can see her friends again, but the flower will say no, because the flower is going to be very mean.”
I listened patiently to her story, watching her animated arm gestures showing just how blocked the web would be from the view of Charlotte’s friends and just how mean the flower would be. Then she stopped and smiled at me.
“That’s very interesting.” I told her. “So, what happens next? How does Charlotte get away from the flower?”
Her face changed to furrowed confusion. “I don’t know. That’s the end of the book.”
“Oh…” I said, “Well, let’s see what really happens then.”
I hope she is not disappointed with the direction the book actually takes with its boring obligation to worn out concepts like plot, and conflict resolution, and complete lack of evil sunflowers.