One March Break when I was very young, my mom and I spent the week reading Charlotte’s Web aloud to one another, during which we discussed some of the book’s more complicated themes of birth and death and that often horrible state in between that we call living. Pretty weighty – but important – stuff for a children’s book (side note: heavy-handed moralizing is actually the bread and butter of children’s literature, dating back to the early 1800s with the Brothers Grimm’s terrifying tales of what certain horrors befall misbehaving children. And believe me, it was usually nothing so Disney sanitized as one of Cinderella’s wicked step-sisters feeling humiliated at the big ball; try one of her step-sisters having her eyes pecked out by birds because she was jealous of Cinderella’s successes. Cripes, one of these things is not like the other!)
But before you run out and retroactively report my mother to the authorities, bear in mind that the two of us making our way through that book together is one of my favourite childhood memories, while the book itself remains to this day one of my all time favourite works of literature. It’s just so simple and uncluttered, with a terrific heart – even when it’s breaking your heart – and a voice that doesn’t speak down to its young readers. It’s children’s literature perfection.
So in honour of selfless Charlotte and opportunistic Templeton and some pig Wilbur, I created these nails featuring the best descriptor Charlotte spins into her web to describe Wilbur, “radiant.” How a pig can be considered radiant is beyond me, and initially it’s beyond Wilbur, too, but in the end he makes it work, standing in his pen at the fair with good posture and a pleasant expression on his face, attempting to emanate a glow from within. It’s pretty solid work for a pig with zero opportunities before a kind spider came along and changed his destiny.
But I can’t talk about the ending, because I will dissolve into a mile deep puddle of ugly, salty tears, and nobody needs that, least of all my cats, who are not fond of getting wet (seriously, the waterworks Charlotte’s Web touches off are second maybe only to The Velveteen Rabbit, which is sadness plus PLUS. A few months back I described it for my husband, who had never read it, and even my highly glossed-over version set me to sobbing. It’s THE WORST. So is Watership Down.)