Tuesday, November 13, 2012

good advice

Five-year-old younger lad, dreamer and sage:
"Never hug a charging rhino."

Saturday, November 03, 2012

eight-legged empathy

Remember when I used to post reviews, usually on Mondays, of the books we've been reading and relishing together as a way of remembering those books that stood out from the scads we haul home from the library on a regular basis?

Yeah, I barely do myself.

So here it is, a few *weeks* (sigh) since I last posted anything, and already after Halloween (about which I've aired my true feelings before), and I'm going to talk about two books concerning, of all things, spiders.

Yep.  Spiders.
I try not to react to a spider sighting like this, but it takes *great* effort. 
Sophie's Masterpiece by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Jane Dyer

I thought I was going to have to shelve this post for next year, but then I vanquished another one of those big ol' wolf spiders today.  I took that as I sign that a spider book post might still be relevant. 

So here we go...
who knew spiders were so fashionable?
Sophie's Masterpiece by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Jane Dyer

Both Sophie's Masterpiece by Eileen Spinelli (illustrated by Jane Dyer, who also illustrated the Cookie books we like so much) and Be Nice to Spiders by Margaret Bloy Graham seek to show the softer, more lovable side of spiders.  Spinelli's Sophie strikes out on her own and sets up residence in a boarding house operated by the lovely lady in the picture above.  After a few near-misses with residents who aren't exactly spider fans, Sophie finds one resident who doesn't wig out at the sight of the spider.  The stalwart young woman is knitting booties for the baby she is expecting, but Sophie sees to it that the baby has a soft blanket to sleep under. 

Spiders have redeeming value, apparently.
Be Nice to Spiders, by Margaret Bloy Graham

Graham's Be Nice to Spiders is set in a zoo where the animals are beset by annoying flies that leave the animals fussy and ferocious -- the animals without a spiderweb in the corner of their living space, that is.  Even though the zookeepers see the spiderwebs as messy-looking, it turns out the spider who spun them is relieving the animals of the nagging flies that vex them so, which is apparently similar to what those wolf spiders do here in the suburbs.  This knowledge doesn't exactly make me want to leave all the spiderwebs up in the corners of our house (not that there are any, ahem), but it makes for fun reading.  Published in the late 1960s, Be Nice to Spiders has that vintage charm and wide-eyed wonder thing going for it.  Such books are always fun.  We've also enjoyed reading the Harry books written by Gene Zion and illustrated by Ms. Graham (Harry the Dirty Dog, Harry by the Sea, Harry and the Lady Next Door, and No Roses for Harry!).

Try as they may to elicit some empathy for the eight-legged ickies that dare to cross the threshold into our home, Sophie's Masterpiece and Be Nice to Spiders are entertaining, if not entirely convincing.
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