Staff Pick: Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

Title: Charlotte’s Web
Author: E. B. White
Narrators: Meryl StreepRobin MilesKirby HeyborneCassandra CampbellKimberly FarrLincoln HoppeMark DeakinsTavia GilbertDanny CampbellEmily RankinJanuary LavoyMacleod Andrews, Bahni Turpin, Julia Whelan

“Terrific.” “Radiant.” “Humble.”

It turns out that the words of praise Charlotte the spider writes in her web to describe Wilbur the pig, are equally suitable when considering the audiobook of this classic story.

Helmed by the unparalleled Meryl Streep as the narrator, this recent version is the first re-release since author E. B. White’s beloved original recording from 1970. It’s a short and sweet listen – only 4 hours long – but one I know I’ll return to. The adventures of Charlotte, Wilbur and the Arable children are phenomenally brought to life in this full-cast production, in which no narrator does double-duty. For audiobook lovers, the supporting cast is a who’s who of nearly two dozen prolific narrators: January Lavoy plays Charlotte with superb subtlety; Cassandra Campbell is a nuanced Mrs Zuckerman; Tavia Gilbert is a very fun Goose; Emily Rankin expertly plays Fern; Bahni Turpin is a wonderfully memorable Lamb; even Julia Whelan makes a small cameo as Charlotte’s daughter, Joy.

Charlotte’s Web is a masterpiece of juvenile literature for its moral sensibility, quotable truisms, depth of feeling, and fantastic sense of humor. White’s prose, while of course suitable for children, can truly be appreciated only in adulthood. I was particularly touched by the gentle melancholy with which he describes the changing of the seasons – so resonant for me at this time of year:

The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad monotonous song. “Summer is over and gone, over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.” A little maple tree heard the cricket song and turned bright red with anxiety.

The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year — the days when summer is changing into fall the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.

Everybody heard the song of the crickets. Avery and Fern Arable heard it as they walked the dusty road. They knew that school would soon begin again. The young geese heard it and knew that they would never be little goslings again. Charlotte heard it and knew that she hadn’t much time left. Mrs. Zuckerman, at work in the kitchen, heard the crickets, and a sadness came over her, too. “Another summer gone,” she sighed. 

Sad, sweet, and true – and when read to you by Meryl Streep (et. al.), nothing short of breathtaking. Charlotte’s Web is my staff pick for September for now is truly the perfect time of year to enjoy this story, but it’s also now one of my top recommendations of all time.

Publisher Summary:

Brought to life by Meryl Streep and a full cast, this beloved book by E. B. White, author of Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan, is a classic of children’s literature that is ‘just about perfect.’

Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spider web tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.

E. B. White’s Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.

Includes an appreciation written and read by Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet, the cover artist of this edition and author/illustrator of Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White.

Read more and sample the audio →


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Staff Pick: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

TitleA Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
AuthorHolly Jackson
NarratorRobert FassCarol MondaKevin R. FreeMarisa CalinMichael CrouchPatricia SantomassoSean Patrick HopkinsBailey CarrGopal DivanShezi SardarAmanda Thickpenny

Like many others, the very first podcast I ever listened to was Serial. It was so addicting and kept me enthralled during my long commute to my job at the time. It’s been a while since something caught my attention like that, until I listened to A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder follows Pip, a high school senior who chooses to investigate the infamous case of a murdered girl in her hometown. Pip is convinced that the prime suspect didn’t actually commit this crime, so she starts digging into the details and someone in town isn’t too happy about it.

The story is told through Pip’s project log, which gives us an insight to her inner thoughts and information that she gathers from her investigations. I also loved the fact that this audiobook featured a full cast, so that the interviews Pip did in-person or over the phone seemed that much more real.

While I did notice some similarities in this story to Serial and some investigations did mirror the ones that were featured in the Serial podcast, this story definitely took a different route than I expected and it had me guessing the whole way through. I got so heavily invested in these characters, I even shed a tear while listening on my drive home one night.

Even though I’m a fully grown adult, I’m shamelessly a fan of teen dramas. There, I said it. Riverdale, Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, Degrassi…you name it, I’ve watched it. Plus, I love all things horror, thriller, and true crime. If that sounds like you too, then you’re not going to want to miss A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder.

Publisher Summary:

For readers of Kara Thomas and Karen McManus, an addictive, twisty crime thriller with shades of Serial and Making a Murderer about a closed local murder case that doesn’t add up, and a girl who’s determined to find the real killer–but not everyone wants her meddling in the past.

Everyone in Fairview knows the story.

Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.

But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?

Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you’ll never expect.

Read more and sample the audio →


New to Audiobooks.com? Get your first book free, PLUS a bonus book from our VIP selection when you sign up for our one-month free trial. Digital audiobooks make audible stories come to life when you’re commuting, working out, cleaning, cooking, and more! Listening is easy with our top-rated free audiobook apps for iOS and Android, which let you download & listen to bestselling audiobooks on the go, wherever you are. Click here to get your free audiobooks!