Monday, August 27, 2007

E. B. White’s Stuart Little

I’ve read The Elements of Style so many times, I feel that I know bits of it by heart. We used to march around the schoolyard intoning “Omit needless words. Omit needless words.”

I teach “Once More to the Lake” with pleasure most every year.

I remember his children’s books fondly, sure, but nothing could prepare me for the pleasures of reading Stuart Little aloud to the older daughter. Who remembers that as Stuart runs away from home, he pauses to fill in as a substitute teacher? Listen to this, it’s totally delightful:
The boys and girls crowded around the desk to look at the substitute. Everyone talked at once, and they seemed to be very much pleased. The girls giggled and the boys laughed and everyone’s eyes lit up with excitement to see such a small and good-looking teacher, so appropriately dressed.
With the first day of school looming, this is a great (and intimidating) reminder of the substance of students’ first impressions. I’m looking through the closet for my most delightful and appropriate dress.

5 comments:

Matthew Tiffany said...

I loved that book. I'm glad you mentioned it. My oldest daughter is four now - soon, soon.

Gayla said...

I love Stuart Little, too. It was one of my favorite books when I was younger; I actually prefered it to Charlotte's Web.

Anne said...

What I hadn't remembered is how dapper and independent and intrepid he is. It's enough to give any child courage for adventure AND a sense of elegance--an unbeatable combination.

My older's almost 5, so you don't have long to wait, Matthew...

brd said...

My favorite lines are at the beginning of Chapter One. The family was a bit concerned when their second son arrived and he was not much bigger than a mouse, but:

"The doctor was delighted with Stuart and said that it was very unusual for an American family to have a mouse. He took Stuart's temperature and found that it was 98.6, which is normal for a mouse. . . . Everything seemed to be all right, and Mrs. Little was pleased to get such a good report.'Feed him up!' said the doctor cheerfully, as he left."

It is a great book.

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