While both of these picture book biographies about E.B. White are good, they each have a distinctly different focus.
A Boy, A Mouse and A Spider by Barbara Herkert is written very much in the pastoral style E.B. White, himself, favored. There is not a huge amount of text on any one page. On many pages the text is reminiscient of the ‘list’ style White used extensively in his writing for both adults and children:
In the refuge of the stable,
Elwyn’s senses sharpened
to the ripe scent of manure,
the creak of harness leather,
the perfect shape of eggs,
the snort of tired horses.
the sweet-dry smell of hay,
and a spider’s masterpiece.
Lauren Castillo’s illustrations are soft and gentle, full of the greens and browns of nature that White loved. There is minimal biographical information in this one, but the book, itself, is deeply reflective of White and his work.
Some Writer! by Melissa Sweet is brimming with biographical information about E.B. White in much more detail. Its pages are assembled in a dynamic collage style which allows the author to organize the information and anecdotes in smaller, easily accessible units for the reader. Some Writer! includes White’s childhood as a youngster beset with severe hay fever, his discovery of and joy in the Maine countryside, his early career writing for The New Yorker and his amazing children’s books Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan.
White’s granddaughter, Martha White, pens a lovely afterword in which she praises Sweet’s work as an accurate and loving representation of E.B. White: who he was, what he believed in, what he hoped for, and what he wrote.
If you are looking for a wonderful homage to E.B. White because a young reader who has read Stuart Little or Charlotte’s Web (or had them read to him/her) and might be interested, A Boy, A Mouse and A Spider is a great read-aloud choice.
If you–or a young reader you know–is looking for a more detailed E.B. White biography which combines facts, anecdotes and insights, then Some Pig! is a perfect choice.