Three passages.

From Perry Nodelman and Mavis Reimer, The Pleasures of Children’s Literature (2003):

At the beginning of chapter 6 of Charlotte’s Web, the long descriptive list of the different events of early summer days comes just after a promise at the end of the previous chapter that events will prove Charlotte the spider to be a loyal friend. The passage cleverly builds suspense simply by talking about something completely different from what readers have been encouraged to most want to hear about next.

As Charlotte’s Web reveals, the shifting focus demanded by complex discourse can create rich reading experiences. A perception of patterns and images can help readers understand the meanings or themes implied by the events of the plot, and those meanings can help increase readers’ appreciation of the images. In Charlotte’s Web readers can see how the lists implying “the glory of everything” help explain the meaning of the saving of Wilbur’s life and the death of Charlotte. Seeing that this salvation is accomplished by means of an instrument of death–a spider’s web–and being asked to understand the death of this savior as unavoidable, readers might well be led to contemplate the paradoxical relations of good and bad that are found in all lists.

From E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web (1952), including my “annotations” from second grade, including underlining in the text (marked by italics):

(from Chapter IV, “Loneliness”):
Breakfast at six thirty. Skim milk, crusts, middlings, bits of doughnuts, wheat cakes with drops of maple syrup sticking to them, potato skins, leftover custard pudding with raisins, and bits of Shredded Wheat.…Twelve o’clock–lunchtime. Middlings, warm water, apple parings, meat gravy, carrot scrapings, meat scraps, stale hominy, and the wrapper off a package of cheese.…At four would come supper. Skim milk, provender, leftover sandwich from Lurvy’s lunchbox, prune skins, a morsel of this, a bit of that, fried potatoes, marmalade drippings, a little more of this, a little more of that, a piece of baked apple, a scrap of upside down cake.

(from the end of Chapter XI, “The Miracle,” the first time Charlotte writes in the web–this written in the margin in an uneven hand)
This was a very good chapter.

Note the careful attention to the lists, which continues throughout the text, and, when Charlotte writes “Some Pig” in the web, a clear sense that something important and wonderful is going on. Interesting, in light of what Nodelman and Reimer have to say above.

From Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism (1711):

In Poets as true Genius is but rare,
True Taste as seldom is the Critick‘s Share;
Both must alike from Heav’n derive their Light,
These born to Judge, as well as those to Write.

Clearly, I was born a critick.

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