I picked up Charlotte’s Web: The Essential Guide in the bookstore yesterday, took a brief look and then a much longer one as I searched unsuccessfully for the name of the humble and radiant author of Charlotte’s Web, the original book that is. It was pretty evident from the photos and text that it was meant to be the essential guide to the movie, not the book. So how about making that clear in the title then? How about mentioning the original book somewhere, anywhere? And maybe the original author too? (If it was there, it was very very hidden as I sure missed it.)
The Essential Guide (published by DK, by the way) made me wonder about the original book’s publisher’s own movie tie-in books . And so I took a virtual field trip to the HarperCollins website and found a bunch (scroll down the page for the movie tie-in editions). They’ve got Charlotte’s Web: The Movie Storybook (which I also looked at in the bookstore and am relieved to report that White and his book are mentioned in it), coloring books, sticker books, and a few other things.
Other things like a couple of picture books (Charlotte’s Web: New in the Barn and Charlotte’s Web: The Perfect Word) written by Catherine Hapka with photos from the movie and two I Can Read Books (Charlotte’s Web: Wilbur Finds a Friend and Charlotte’s Web: Wilbur’s Prize) written by Jennifer Frantz and illustrated by Aleksey Ivanov. I’ve gotta say I’m a lot more comfortable with the movie photo illustrated picture books than with the two I Can Read books with new illustrations.
Interestingly, one book is completely missing from HarperCollins’ Charlotte’s Web page (although it is available elsewhere on their site, of course). This is Some Pig!, a picture book consisting of the complete second chapter of the original book illustrated by Maggie Kneed. Roger Sutton recently wondered what young readers would make of the abrupt ending of the chapter and concluded, “This [is] why you have to be careful when messing with the classics–it’s not because they’re holy, but because they’ll go on strike: they won’t work.”
As I’ve written before, I think the movie does work. But all these other books? I’m not so sure.