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Review of Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White

sweet_somewriterstar2 Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White
by Melissa Sweet; illus. by the author
Intermediate, Middle School    Houghton    164 pp.
10/16    978-0-544-31959-2    $18.99    g

Salutations! Sweet raises her collage skills to new heights while bringing her love and admiration for fellow Mainer E. B. White to the page for everyone to appreciate. Just as her astounding collages blend materials that might have been found in a barn in Maine, the text carefully blends her words with those of the beloved writer of children’s books, New Yorker essays, and The Elements of Style (the essential treatise on grammar, co-written with William Strunk). One can imagine Sweet’s studio filled with snippets of quotations from White’s works ready to find the perfect place on her pages, to meld seamlessly with her words and bring the story of his life to a new generation of readers and admirers. Sweet has written and drawn a fast-moving, thorough, deeply researched, and accessible biography. White’s own words are signaled by a typewriter font, and each quote is accompanied by a simple tan label that sets it off from the main text without being distracting. Charming photographs of young  White, whether he is playing the mandolin, gliding in a canoe, or dangling from a log over a river, additionally inform the reader about his childhood and young adulthood, making the origins of his writing come alive. Sweet inserts just the right amount of detail about his personal life (for instance, his wife Katherine Angell divorced in order to marry White) but is never gossipy. In the end, whether readers are weeping at White’s death or smiling at stepson Roger Angell’s wry memorial comments, they will rejoice that Sweet has caught up with an old favorite in White. With this book, we all have.

From the September/October 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Robin Smith About Robin Smith

Robin Smith is a second-grade teacher at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a reviewer for Kirkus and The Horn Book Magazine and has served on multiple award committees.

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