Monday, September 1, 2014

When a Spider Came to Stay - Rebecca Crosdale

Summary:  She appeared one day next to my chair, right there on the floor.  She looked strange and didn't speak my language, yet there she was, just looking up at me.  I didn't know why.  (Summary from back of the book, image from  www.smashwords.com.  Book given free for review.)

My Review:  The main character in this book has an encounter with a spider and over a period of time watches the spider make web after web in the hopes of catching some food. During this time the little girl tries to get the spider to talk to her and tell her its secrets and share some food. The spider doesn't succeed in trapping some food and eventually leaves the room, which disappoints the little girl, but she ends with a feeling of reverence for what the spider has created.

While I like the idea of a book that tries to help children see how spiders aren't scary, I think this one needs a bit more polishing.  Charlotte's Web, on the whole, does a better job.  I realize that that's a longer story and this tries to do that in just 23 short pages. You can tell the author reveres spiders and what they're capable of; I'm just not sure it communicates that in a way that rubs off on children.  My daughter, after reading it to her, didn't change her opinion that spiders are creepy and gross, while Charlotte's Web helped her understand that spiders need to eat just like we do: it's just different.

The other aspect that's a little odd is the artistry, although I'm not sure the author had any control over this.  The colors seem warped, as does the character's body in different pictures.

On the whole, I think the concept is good, but the execution is poor.  I'd still read it to my kids, but I'm not sure I'd recommend this be considered high quality children's literature.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Sum it up:  An attempt to help children not be so afraid of spiders.

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