Sweet, Melissa. Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White. Melissa Sweet, Illus. Biography. Houghton, 10/2016. 162pp. $18.99. 978-0-544-31959-2. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 3-7.
Two-time Caldecott Honoree Sweet seamlessly blends photography, correspondence, quotations from various articles, and poems and her own mixed-media collage for a beautiful and compelling profile of a beloved yet reclusive author. Whether tracing origins of his various nicknames, a rising appreciation among the masses for his writing talent, or the story of the inspiration behind Charlotte’s Web, the reader is quickly drawn into the life of a wordsmith who felt that children should be written UP to rather than down. White’s independence and willingness to stand alone, even when his sentiments were unpopular (including his opposition to blacklisting), is so very timely in the current political climate. Sweet’s intense research, which included working with her neighbor, a granddaughter of Mr. White, turns up hints from his childhood such as where his writing interests lay over the course of his life. Endpapers include an author’s note, afterword by Martha White, timeline, picture credits, and bibliography. It would have been easy for Sweet to focus on his literary works for children in a biography intended for young readers, but great care has been taken to provide a comprehensive portrait of his personal history. The result is a biography appealing to a wide audience, from true fans to those who have no previous knowledge about a familiar name in children’s literature.
Beth Gousman, Montclair School