Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Stuart Little...random thoughts

Stuart Little by E.B. White.

Okay, I'm just going to keep this one short and sweet. Actually, probably not so sweet, as I really didn't like this book at all. And that's why I'm just going to keep it short. I don't look forward to the hateful comments I may receive for not falling in love with this beloved classic...obviously I'm kidding, as book bloggers are among the sweetest, most courteous people on the planet.

Anyway, I personally find it hard to believe that this story was written by E.B. White. I disliked Stuart Little nearly as much as I adored Charlotte's Web. Maybe my expectations were too high. But I didn't feel like Stuart Little held together as a cohesive whole...it felt more like snippets of stories thrown together. With Stuart as the thread that loosely tied them. And frankly, I didn't find Stuart all that charming a character. (And I certainly have nothing against talking rodents as characters, as I loved Despereaux and Mrs. Frisby and Templeton....) On top of these things, I found parts of the book dreadfully dull, particularly the couple of chapters about the boat race on the pond in the park. I'm sure boating aficionados would have no trouble with this section, but the boys and I didn't understand half the words in there as it was overloaded with sailing jargon.

But speaking of the boys, they had a different take on the book than I did. They rather enjoyed most of it. (Though they didn't enjoy the boat race either.) Gray thought the chapter where Stuart Little played substitute teacher for a day was particularly funny. Max, of course, loved any mention of Snowbell the cat (big surprise, huh?).

Something we all agreed on...the ending was just plain weird. I thought that maybe it was just the grown-up in me that objected to the ending. (Stuart has left his family without a word to them to go in search of a friend, and he obviously has no plans of coming back. This is a family who, by the way, has always cherished him and taken very good care of him.) But it wasn't just the adult viewpoint...Gray and Max both thought it totally weird, too. They simply couldn't believe that the book was over, and asked if there was a sequel.

Surely there is a reason why this book is so well-loved by so many, but it just escaped me. Possibly it was just my mood while reading it. And possibly I just totally missed the boat. But for whatever reason, this book just didn't do it for me. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

By the way, Annie and Rich arrived home from a jog just after the boys and I finished the book last night. She says, "Well, if you wanted to read another good one by E.B. White, you should have read The Trumpet of the Swan, not Stuart Little." Gee, thanks for the timely advice, Annie.


If you have also reviewed this book, feel free to leave a link in the comments and I'll post it here. I'd love to see some other points of view! Thanks.


Read for:

Celebrate the Author Challenge.

Well-Rounded Challenge.

Initials Challenge.

Read-aloud to boys.


Dawn said...

I confess that I haven't read the book. I've seen the movie and I think I left it with some of the same feelings you did about the book. I liked parts and other parts were boring! I suppose in my mind nothing can compare to Charlotte's Web. That was the first chapter book my mother read to me and I adored it!

take care,

J. Kaye Oldner said...

My children and I don't usually agree when it comes to books. Each of them have their own preference and opinion. That said, Jimmy and Nona are more apt to have the same opinion, again, leaving me to be the oddball...lol. Well, it does fit. :)

Nymeth said...

You're not the only one to dislike this book, Debi. I haven't read it, but I've been told by a Charlotte's Web fan to stay away from it. And I really think I will.

I was just looking Stuart Little up on Wikipedia to try and remember whether or not I've seen the movie and it says this about the ending: "The reason for the book's abrupt ending was White's hypochondria. He thought he was going to die soon, so he ended the book in order to get it published before his death (which was actually 40 years after the book's publication)."

Debi said...


How interesting...thanks for the info! Can't wait to go tell the boys about that, too.

Medbie said...

I read it as a child, and I remember having mixed feelings about it, so I've never reread it. I remember really liking bits of it, but not liking bits of it, too, but we're talking more than 20 years ago, so I can't be more specific. LOL

Jean said...

I'm with Annie. Read Trumpet of the Swan. Better yet, see if you can find the audio version. I forget which one--Charlotte's Web or Trumpet--but there's one out there of EB White reading it. Wonderful! We listened to is on many a road trip ... on cassette. That dates us!

bethany said...

i haven;t read it either...I should though. some books and movies do have slow spots, I certainly agree :)

Karen said...

I'm new to your blog and really enjoyed your review on this book. Funny, because I liked the book. A lot! But I have to agree with what you said about the boring boat scene and the weird ending. You were right on. I read Trumpet of the Swan and it was my least favorite of E.B. White's books. I can't even remember the story line. But I think I enoyed it! It's been 20 years since I read it.

Nice blog!

Trish said...

I haven't read this one or Trumpet of the Swan, but I've heard the latter is really good. It's been years and years since I've read Charlotte's Web, but I have fond memories of it (especially of my second grade teacher reading it aloud to us in class).

Kim L said...

I think I've read this one perhaps, but if I have it has been a while. I remember seeing the movie when it came out. I was in Peru at the time, so I saw it in Spanish and didn't understand a word :-)

Charley said...

I just re-read Stuart Little and had a similar experience. I didn't hate it or anything, but I didn't like it as much as I did when I was a kid. Charlotte's Web, on the other hand, was one of my favorites growing up. I'm contemplating re-reading that, too, but I'm afraid I'll be similarly disillusioned!