Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White

Sweet, Melissa (Author/Illustrator)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2016. 162 pages
First published: 2016
ISBN: 9780544319592 (hardcover)
9780544998483 (e-book)
Original language: English
Dewey: 818
Book type: Non-Fiction
Book genre: Biography

Text Elements:

structures and features

Awards

Cybil Award – 2016
Boston Globe-Horn Honor Book – 2017

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This biographical gem tells the story of E. B. White’s life and career. “Much of what he wrote was not for children, yet many consider Charlotte’s Web not only White’s magnum opus but one of the best children’s books ever written,” comments the author.

Presented in collage format, this book lends itself to multiple readings thanks to its wealth of visual and textual details. Watercolour, gouache and mixed-media illustrations are juxtaposed with White’s photographs, newspaper clippings, correspondence, quotes, book extracts and handwritten pages pulled from manuscripts. Digging through this treasure chest of vintage curiosities, readers get a sense of the author’s personality, values and preoccupations.

“All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world. I guess you can find that in there, if you dig around,” reads an E. B. White quote. Meanwhile, the main body of text, delivered in more linear fashion, and extra elements such as a biographical timeline, family tree and extensive footnotes, all make this an engaging and unusual take on the biography genre.

Budding writers will love White’s writing tips and the insider’s view of his creative process and post-publication challenges. They may be surprised that Stuart Little was inspired by a dream, and initially got terrible press. “I was never so disappointed in a book in my life,” wrote Anne Carroll Moore. Yet, through White, readers learn the value of trusting instincts over criticism, as Stuart Little ultimately became a classic among his most important critics: kids.

  •  

    What do you know about biography as a genre? Make a list of the structures and features you’d expect to find in a biography. As you read, reflect on how this book is the same as and different from a traditional biography.

  •  

    What do you notice about the events included in the timeline at the end compared to the content of the biography? Discuss the author’s purpose in including the timeline.

  •  

    Select a favourite two-page spread. Explain to a partner or small group why you like it so much.

  •  Make a page for an autobiography in the same style as the book. Include artifacts, photos, diagrams and other elements.
  •  

    What do you know about biography as a genre? Make a list of the structures and features you’d expect to find in a biography. What can you infer about White based on the illustrations?

  •  

    From the pictures, can you tell what tricks White used to become a better writer? Discuss them with your classmates and make a class poster of these tricks. Choose (three) tricks that you think could help you and add them to your reader’s log.

  •  

    Create an autobiography page for yourself in the author’s style. Include artifacts, photos, diagrams and other elements.

  •  

    Check out the books listed on the cover. Discuss what you notice about these books and how they are similar to or different from what you learned about the author.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • Personal and Career Planning