Sophie's Masterpiece

by Eileen Spinelli (Author) Jane Dyer (Illustrator)

Sophie's Masterpiece
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Sophie's no ordinary house spider. She's an artist; and every web she spins is more wondrous than the one before. But don't mention that to the guests at Beekman's Boardinghouse, because they don't like spiders. No one there wants anything to do with Sophie or her magnificent creations -- no one except the woman on the third floor. She's a new mother "weaving" something herself; and when she runs out of yarn, Sophie knows the time has finally come to create the masterpiece of a lifetime.

Eileen Spinelli and Jane Dyer, the award-winning duo who created the best-selling When Mama Comes Home Tonight, team up once again to tell the charming and bittersweet tale of an exceptionally gifted spider and the lengths she's willing to go to share her gifts with those around her.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 3 Even as a youngster, Sophie is identified as a master weaver. When it comes time for her to strike out on her own, she lands at a less than impressive boarding house. As she sees the run-down condition of her new abode, the young house spider sets out to make her world a better place. However, the plebeian landlady doesn't appreciate the newcomer's attempt at weaving a new set of curtains and shows no tolerance toward spiders in her house. Sophie proceeds to have a number of less than felicitous encounters with various boarders who similarly do not appreciate her handiwork. It is not until she is aged and weary that she enters the room of a young woman who isn't bothered by her presence. Curious, Sophie watches as she begins to knit baby booties and realizes that she is pregnant. Observing that the young woman appears friendless and quite poor, Sophie begins work upon her final masterpiece-a baby blanket. She completes her work and comes to the end of her life just as she hears the cry of the newborn infant. Expressive watercolors capture the quirky yet poignant spirit of this tale. The scenes of the aged Sophie and the new mother and child are particularly luminous. This endearing spider should rid even the most fearful individuals of their arachnophobia.-Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA

Copyright 2001 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

The team behind When Mama Comes Home Tonight here introduces readers to a spider who weaves with grace and serves others with courage. Dyer's gently tinted watercolors show Sophie as a blond with a human face and a perpetually tranquil expression (often sporting a beret); her eight-limbed body, with its two arms and six colorfully-stockinged legs, seems perfectly believable. Over time, the tender-hearted arachnid weaves garments she thinks the human boarders in the boardinghouse she inhabits will find useful, but she's always chased away before she can complete them. Tiring of her nomadic life, she discovers at last a quiet mother-to-be who is not afraid of spiders and who hasn't enough money for a baby blanket. Sophie, now nearing the end of her life, then starts on her last project: "She was down to the farthest corner of the blanket when she heard the cry of the young woman's newborn baby. And there, on that farthest corner, is where Sophie wove into the blanket her very own heart." Dyer paints Sophie in various spidery attitudes; in one painting, she dozes in a knitting basket, dwarfed by huge balls of yarn. Later, at work on her pi ce de r sistance, she crouches, silver-haired, beside a snowy windowpane. Spinelli and Dyer's story of devotion and generosity is as delicately woven as Sophie's own work. Ages 4-7. (May)

Copyright 2001 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.

Eileen Spinelli
Eileen Spinelli has written many books for children. Her 1991 debut Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch was?a Christopher Award winner, and she has gone on to author numerous picture books, poetry collections, and chapter books, including the bestselling?When Mama Comes Home Tonight, ?and the critically acclaimed?Sophie's Masterpiece.?Eileen lives in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

Paul Yalowitz is the acclaimed illustrator of a number of children's books, including?The Spooky Eerie Night Noise?by Mona Rabun Reeves and Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli. He lives in Brentwood, New York.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
May 20, 2001
Young Hoosier Book Award
Nominee 2005 - 2005
Flicker Tale Children's Book Award
Nominee 2003 - 2003
Arkansas Diamond Primary Book Award
Nominee 2003 - 2004

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