Fascinating and fun spider facts cap off a rare effort where engaging text, distinct illustrations, and smart design jibe perfectly. (Picture book. 4-8)
This woodland idyll spins the delicate tale of Yellow Spider, an orb weaver. Magnifying the spider's hidden world, London (The Eyes of Gray Wolf) writes his lyric prose in second person ("If you're quiet and listen, maybe you can hear its feet on the sparkling web"), while Bavier (A Boy Called Slow) spotlights the initial spider sighting, then cleverly introduces a boy viewer with whom readers can readily identify. The book thus becomes an invitation into the orb weaver's universe. Here, a snail is gargantuan (it fills an entire spread), and "a raindrop on a fallen leaf is a forest pool." The tranquil, Lilliputian perspective shifts when a hiker charges through, and Baviera shows the spider's web and environs in shambles (and the hiker's footprint in evidence). Undaunted, Yellow Spider "waits, then begins to weave." Bavier's full-bleed, electric, crayon pencil illustrations and telephoto focus heighten the miniature drama. With a palette of primary and secondary shades, Bavier's pictures fairly vibrate with intensity. An addendum, presented as a notebook entry, fills in the scientific details of Yellow Spider. Even reluctant scientists can appreciate this unflinching arachnid hero and may see the world a little differently after viewing it through his eyes. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)
Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly, Used With Permission.
Gr 1-3—Boy meets arachnid in this dreamlike encounter. As a young hiker walks along a path, he spots the tiny creature: "Yellow spider glows like the evening star,/gleaming over the sea/beside the crescent moon." As he looks closer, the illustrations zoom in, providing deep-hued, magnified views of the spider's leafy, insect-filled world. The youngster is shown again at the end of the book, dreaming about his spider-watching day. The poetic text invites readers to participate: "If you're quiet and listen,/maybe you can hear its feet/on the sparkling web." Unfortunately, the accompanying view of the boy in this early scene is jolting, showing a wide-eyed and partial view of his face that suggests fright or horrified amazement rather than a friendly smile. The crayon pencil drawings are painterly in glowing red, green, blue, and yellow. Full-page scenes face white pages of text and lines of yellow type arch artfully across several double-spreads of gigantic snails and leaves. Though the text refers to the tiny size of these creatures, the idea seems to be that viewers are actually trading places and becoming smaller than the insects. It's an evocative and experimental approach that will confuse some readers and appeal to others. The poetic descriptions and impressionistic illustrations are sometimes vague and even contradictory. Still, this is a handsome book and an appreciative tribute to the world of the orb weaver spider. A final page of factual notes about these creatures is included.—Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Copyright 1998 School Library Journal, Used With Permission.