Friday, November 18, 2016

Book Review: Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

"Children can sail easily over the fence that separates reality from make-believe." -E.B. White

Sometimes I find myself so overwhelmed with a pile of books that I completely ignore the entire pile and go find something else to read. That's what happened when I read Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet.

I had plenty of other books to read, but my mom told me I should at least look at this book and put it on my list to read some day. Instead, I sat down, opened the book, and read through it all in two sittings. It was definitely worth it.

Surprisingly, I didn't know a whole lot about E.B. White's life. I knew he wrote Charlotte's Web, but I honestly didn't even know if he was a man or a woman. I had no clue he wrote Stuart Little or that it was banned from several libraries when it was released in 1945. Or that he wrote for The New Yorker and had a snarky personality or contributed to The Elements of Style (which I have either read or heard of frequently in college). I didn't know when he was born or when he died or what his life was like. The only thing I knew was that his name was printed on the cover of a book about a pig and a spider that I must have read at some point in my childhood.

So Some Writer! was a pleasant surprise for a number of reasons. The dedication to documenting this beloved children's author was astounding. There were pictures from when E.B.--known as Andy--was a baby until the last years of his life. There were letters and drawings and manuscripts of his work collected in this book. It was fascinating to see it all collected together.

In addition, the book was set up differently than most biographies. It was kind of like Melissa Sweet did an art journal of his life instead of just regular chapters and paragraphs. So there was cool backgrounds and art collages and all sorts of knick-knacks thrown across each spread. The detail of what Melissa Sweet did to bring E.B. White's history, writing, and imagination to life was touching. There were moments I paused to admire the small, intricate details she perfectly placed on the pages. (Can I please be paid to do this for an author? Because it's so cool.)

The actual narration/story of E.B. White was interesting. It, obviously, focused on the writing aspect of his life, but it also revealed details of how and where the stories came from. It was interesting to read, and I found myself easily relating to this man who was born in 1899 and died years before I was born.

It's not often that I enjoy non-fiction, but Some Writer! swept me away. It was an interesting take for a biography, especially of a man that had so much to offer the world. I want more biographies like this. And now I want to read all his children's books just like the book suggested.

Have you read anything by E.B. White? What is your favorite biography?

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