I can't believe I've never read this book until now, but it's true. I read voraciously as a child but somehow never cracked open a copy of this children's classic. Still, better late than never. Charlotte's web is a beautiful and touching story, told with evocative and rich descriptions. It's mostly funny and lighthearted, but carries a strong moral themes, and touches on more serious topics like life and death without sugarcoating it.
I really like the way Charlotte's death was handled-- she dies after everyone leaves, quietly, with no one noticing-- after all, everyone dies alone. It's written about so plainly and simply that it underscores exactly what death is-- a life going out without drama surrounding it, very matter-of-fact, the way I think it should be. To see this written in a children's book was amazing.
Also, it made me think a lot about the lives of animals in particular. Farm animals, at least, have no choice in their lives; they are born and bred to be slaughtered and eaten, and that just seems too cruel a fate. I am by no means any sort of animal person, but E.B. White managed to make me care about Wilbur and Charlotte and their animal friends.