Delicious, Found

September 16, 2015 @ 4:37 pm | Filed under:

I’m taking Jane back up the coast to college this weekend, so I probably won’t get my Sunday book recap posted. So here’s a (less comprehensive) midweek update instead. This has been a week for finishing, it seems! Charlotte’s Web, Dancing Shoes, and Vanessa and Her Sister.

Huck was furious with E.B. White over Charlotte’s death. FURIOUS. “Why did he have to write it that way?” he stormed. “He could have made it go different.”

In other words, to quote Annie Wilkes from Misery: Cockadoodie.


By the next evening, his ire had subsided a bit. I read the final chapter over dinner (I’ve been feeding Huck and Rilla before the rest of the family, netting a little extra read-aloud time). Listening intently while poking shredded carrots through his bread-and-salami—don’t ask me, I’m just the narrator—he interrupted the penultimate paragraph to say, in a dreamy, Fern-like tone, “But this book should never end. It should go on forever.”

I know that feeling, my boy. Not about this book specifically, I have to admit—knowing what was coming, and knowing that this would likely be the last time I read Charlotte’s Web aloud to my own children, I had a lump in my throat through the final few chapters and it was something of a relief, albeit a bittersweet one, to make it through the Last Day and leave the fairgrounds behind. Goodbye, Charlotte, you good writer and true friend. Goodbye, Charlotte’s daughters.

play with your food
Goodbye, very odd open-faced sandwich.

The next day, yesterday, presented me with a grave decision. What, pray tell, is the right book to choose after the epochal experience that is Charlotte’s Web? I pondered many options—the Rilla-shelf is, of course, full of possibilities. But this book has big shoes to fill. And a Huck-and-Rilla book is not the same thing as a Rilla-book. I pulled a dozen contenders off the shelf, considering.

At last I made a choice, and judging from the rapt reactions to the prologue and first chapter, it was a good call.

(current cover / proper cover)

The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt.

Unlike many (most?) of the books on the Rilla-shelf, this isn’t one I’ve reread a dozen times. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve revisited it since age eleven or so. But I’ve never forgotten it, the impact it had on me—Babbitt does that to one, of course. You never get over Tuck Everlasting. And I’ve never stopped thinking about conflicting perspectives and the strife that can result when people dig in too deeply to an opinion and don’t try to see others’ point of view. A thousand times in my life, I’ve taken a drink of cold water on a hot, thirsty day and flashed back to the cover of this book, or to an illustration near the end. It defined “delicious” for me.

(Hint: it does not involve a sandwich stuck full of carrot bits. But Huck may have a different perspective on that.)

    Related Posts


10 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. monica says:

    i got vanessa and her sister per your review and i loved it. Though i am always disappointed and confused by how I can love a writer’s work and be so disgusted by their life.

    I dont think I have ever gotten through Charlottes Web without tears. Farmer Boy might be a good one for the queue.

    We are in the thick of A Banner in the Sky. Very thrilling reading that neither of us want to put down.

  2. Lise says:

    I LOVE “current cover/proper cover.” That’s how I feel about most “current covers”–they are not right! I would not pick up the current one at a book sale, but would grab the older one.

  3. Meredith says:

    The bittersweet ending of an era of reading a beloved book for possibly the last time. Say it isn’t so!! This has been so hard for me with only one girl in the house. I miss those Betsy-Tacy, LM Montgomery days SO MUCH!!! Not that I can’t read those to the boys, but it’s not the same, sigh. Fun Fact* one of Gabriel’s favorite bedtime listening tapes is still Betsy-Tacy 🙂 I have not been introduced to Natalie Babbit as of yet, checking the library, thanks 🙂

  4. Carlie says:

    College????? How???? I have been away from your blog for two long. I thought she was 12 just now. Man.

    I love, love, love that this is the top post on your page. I didn’t get to read Charlotte’s Web as a kid so when I read it to my oldest two boys for the first time in my life, I was sobbing all over the pages and totally unprepared for letting the wonderful world of Fern and Wilber go. Wow….that knocked my socks off. I had no idea where to go next. I think we floundered through several meh choices from the library as follow-ups and then finally just gave reading a pause for a while. I desperately wanted to have something delicious to slip into together but I had no idea where to go from there. I will go directly to the library hold request form! I am armed! Thank you x 1,000,000,000!

    Also….sidenote. I have admired you for years and have recently, suddenly moved to California….I would love to meet you in person if I ever was so lucky as to find myself in SoCal and in touch with you!

  5. theycallmemommy says:

    Ooo…I read this myself a few years ago. Good idea! My 6yo and I are reading Charlotte’s Web right now! (This is my second child to read it too!)

  6. Mamalion says:

    Any chance we’ll get a peek of what’s on Beanie’s shelves? I’m struggling with only 2 kids left at home to remember how to school the fun way…