What Children’s Book Teaches Grown Ups – E. B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web”

By Bhuvi M

A story about a girl named Fern, a pig Wilbur and a spider called Charlotte; E. B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web” is a book set in Zuckerman’s Farm. A must, fun to be read book for kids; it gets great with adults too. Ideal age to read this book is 8-12 years, in case you have missed it you will still enjoy be assured. 🙂

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Written in a simple narrative English with great illustrations by Garth Williams, it will keep you glued till the end. There is some great learning in the story. It is about indomitable spirit to live and commitment to friendship.

Following are the TLS Learning takeaways:

  1. Child’s objective in an act is justice: Innocent and ideal is a child’s care and affection towards anyone. They care with open heart, do things without any motive, a pure bliss. While adult’s world works on practicality (e.g. Fern saves little runt piglet from being killed by her father for practical purposes, citing injustice)
  2. Importance of friendship: It is care, affection and promise for life time. (e.g: Charlotte commits to the friendship to Wilbur. She plans and saves his life. Even when her own end is near she goes to the fair with him)
  3. Appearance or one’s means of living does not define Friendship: Though the book does not question Charlotte’s appearance but for many spiders are scary. Friendship does not value to what an individual does for his or her living (Charlotte’s appearance as well as her remorseless mechanism of trapping flies), but develops on feeling for each other and activities one does for a friend.
  4. Strong will to live: Lively spirit and strong will to live is needed to beat tough situations. To be happy, continue with normal chores during low times. It saved Wilbur’s life.
  5. Child’s exposure to life realities: Survival needs physical strength to compete. If one is weak he / she need extra care to survive (Wilbur as a runt piglet needed Fern’s care in his early days). The story also exposes a kid to understand concept of death. (e.g. Mr. Arable’s decision of killing the runt piglet at birth. Thereafter continuous fear of death for Wilbur in Mr. Zuckerman’s barn). If one needs co-operation from self-centered personalities, one need to help them see how they will get benefited in overall situation. (e.g Templeton’s initial handling by Charlotte and later by Wilbur to do them favor)
  6. Appearance and character can be contradictory: The intrinsic qualities of an individual and outer appearance can be contradictory. (e.g. Charlotte was outwardly a schemer. At the same time she was beautiful at heart and loyal to her friendship)
  7. Natural forces & mood interfere with planning and productivity: Wilbur plans the day full of action. It rains and no one agrees to play with him, leads to his loss of appetite, sadness and lethargy.
  8. Importance of planning, patience and perseverance: To attain an objective, planning and continuously working towards the goal is required. Achieving one step at a time. (e.g. Charlotte’s effort in devising an idea and writing the messages continuously)
  9. Not to get affected by happiness or fear: One’s behavior should not be impacted by over excitement due to happiness and neither get too troubled with fear. (e.g. Charlotte tells Wilbur, “Don’t hurry don’t worry.”)
  10. Someone can help you only if you are open for it: For an assistance to come, it is essential that you are ready to take help and remain disciplined with advises. (e.g. Wilbur following Charlotte’s advice)
  11. A great heart and genuine expression is rare to find: You will rarely find someone with a genuine heart who makes some honest effort as well as is good at writing. Charlotte was one.
  12. CW2Man believes anything that he sees: How gullible is man is – he believes anything in print. (e.g. Charlotte’s writings in web)
  13. Man builds something for just beauty and not for utility: Indicates confused state of man, The man then keeps on moving from one side to another with the hope of finding some miracle on the other side and never finds it. He needs to slow down and think to find peace or ideas which will be beneficial to him. (e.g. Charlotte mentions about the web shaped bridge)
  14. One needs to have basic competencies to execute a task: Wilbur tries to spin a web with string and fails. But he excels doing other things. He was good at putting up the show for the visitors at Zuckerman’s barn.
  15. Importance of gratitude: Wilbur remains grateful to Charlotte for saving his life. He is loyal to her children for entire life. He takes care of the egg sac as his own. He keeps his promise to Templeton.

Picture courtesy internet

Diary of “Not so Glamorous” Single Girl

By Bhuvi M

Recently, I came across series of articles titled “Diary of a Single Girl” in Times Life, (the sunday supplement of The Times of India)  and has been forced to think, “Is this the only picture of a single girl, who is a professional staying in a metro?”

The Times of India column portrays a single girl as objectified glamorous diva from the modeling world. She does everything her way without caring for the world and societal norms. I appreciate the attitude of living her life her way….but still I think, is this the only real picture of “Single Girl”…. probably not.

Moving away from the column; I observe there is another breed of single girl; not into such glamorous profession; the front end of fashion, movies, media, airlines, hotel etc. Thousands of those who stay in metro cities; work breaking their back nine to nine, camouflaged from public eye in the very same glamorous sectors, corporate, NGOs, hospital or teaching at a university.

She is the girl next-door of our colony. She is educated and takes back home a decent pay cheque every month. She is focused in her career and clear with objectives. She is loving, friendly, ordinary and intelligent. She may not care for the world but still respects & greets her neighborhood uncle and aunty with smile. She is will stand by you in despair.

She is not a diva. She is modern and traditional all rolled into one. She dresses contemporary, casual, traditional & conservative, as the situation demands. She is confident and knows to carry herself. Her mother taught her to be safe in metro so she will not befriend strangers at the drop of the hat. She doesn’t find dates easily; may be she likes to know a person before deciding to date him. She will never invite someone home whom she has just met in the conference. She thinks twice before indulging into anything that can pose risk to her and her family.

Her routine is ordinary from visiting gym, managing house in the morning, office during the day and kitchen in the evening. She attends professional conferences and parties in the evening. On weekends she indulges into her passions; either in her circle of friends or alone. These can be traveling, backpacking, painting, writing, attending literary shows and watching theatre, watching movies, cooking, shopping or designing. She meets her extended relatives and manages those relationships with care. This is the majority of the “Single Girl”.

She works hard and smart to build her career. She shares the family responsibility. She invests for her future. She waits till her parents find a groom for her or she is able to find someone herself. She may date someone after liking and plans to marry her. Quite often she misses the man and not sex, a man who is all hers. She is the one who makes a lovely wife, stong relationship and a beautiful home.

Does this sound interesting to the ordinary reader of the column “Diary of a Single Girl”? She is among us. We can easily relate to her. The cover page of her diary may be ordinary as is her personality. If you are lucky to get a chance to flip through the pages of her diary and so as of her life you will find her far more interesting, loaded with endless challenges than a diva’s …… because she is you and me. She is the one who adds a charm to our day-to-day life. She is our daughter, sister, friend and colleague who make our lives meaningful and interesting. Shall we get inside the dairy now….the question lies with the reader.