Making the Grades
Imagine one little pig's horror when he realizes he's slated to be the next Christmas ham at the Zuckerman homestead. The harsh reality of farm life leaves Wilbur (voice by Henry Gibson) fainting at the thought. Luckily, he is befriended by Charlotte (voice by Debbie Reynolds), a sensible spider that lives high in the rafters of the barn.
Realizing the runt will need some intervention to keep him off the dinner table, Charlotte engages the other barnyard habitants in helping her find the perfect word to describe the little porker. The next morning Mr. Zuckerman (voice by Bob Holt) and his hired hand, Lurvey (voice by Herb Vigran), discover the words "some pig" woven into a spider's web across the pen door.
The appearance of the adjective causes an uproar among the local citizens who flock to see the celebrity swine. Only Mrs. Zuckerman (Joan Gerber) seems to realize they ought to be more impressed with the spider than the pig.
But after a few days, the fervor dies down, as often happens with celebs, and Wilbur begins to worry about his fate. Coming to his aid again, Charlotte asks Templeton (Paul Lynde), the gluttonous farm rat for another suggestion. That night she spins her magic and rekindles the community's interest in the pig with a new descriptor.
Encouraged by the renewed attention, Mr. Zuckerman decides to pack up Wilbur and enter him in the fall fair. Wilbur on the other hand is nervous about the whole adventure and begs Charlotte and Templeton (who's heard stories about all the yummy garbage on the grounds) to come along for the ride.
Based on the children's book by E.B. White, this story unfolds without the aid of computer-generated images or high tech graphics. Demonstrating the true nature of friendship, Charlotte stays in the shadows and puts her whole heart into saving Wilbur's bacon while preparing a safe place for her own future family.
Ham-packed with musical interludes, Charlotte's Web will likely appeal to most children, although brief discussions about the food chain may upset some. Given a chance to see the time-honored novel on screen may also encourage young readers to pick up the book and go hog wild.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Charlotte’s Web (1973).
Why do you think Charlotte was willing to help Wilbur? What things did she have to sacrifice in order to save him? What part did the other farm animals play in rescuing Wilbur?