Arachnophobes Anonymous: I'm Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton
I KEEP TELLING MYSELF
"SPIDERS ARE COOL!"
I WANT TO LOVE SPIDERS.
I THINK IT'S WORKING...
SPLAT! Well, that's that.
THAT DIDN'T WORK OUT.
Our little arachnophobe is trying to appreciate the coolness of spiders--eight eyes, eight legs, spinning spider silk webs as strong as steel--funnel webs, spiral orb webs, sheet webs--and tiny hairs on eight legs that stick things so they can walk up walls and (OMG!) across ceilings. . . .
SMASH IT! RIGHT NOW!
Their whole family is a gross-out group. Spiders, scorpions, mites, and ticks. Ick! Some of themcan make us sick! Seriously. Most of them a a trifle venomous, and not a few can cause diseases and other gross stuff.
Mind you, there are 40,000 species of spiders. Only a few (e.g., the black widow and brown recluse) can ruin your day. And many are part of that honorable group called BENEFICIAL spiders.
A SINGLE SPIDER CAN EAT OVER 75 POUNDS OF BUGS IN A YEAR!
That's all fine for me--if not for the critters that make up their dinners. And some spiders can weave a web with a heart in the center. Is that sweet or what?
Wait! What's that?
Where's that big spider when you need one?
When it comes to creepy crawly critters, it's always something, in Bethany Barton's I'm Trying to Love Spiders (Viking Press, 2015). With a nod to the inevitable arachnophiles out there, Barton's discourse on the downside of spiders is more than a little tongue-in-cheek. Her little spiders tend to be cute and comic, although the squished splats on several pages are appropriately yucky!
Along the way, though, curious kids can cull quite a few facts about the hard-to-love creatures shown in this light-hearted look at arachnids. Her watercolored drawings, hand-painted red and black text, and skillful page design add comic drama to the pages, and her similarly illustrated endpapers present more than several varieties of curious arachnids--the diving bell spider, happy face spider, peacock spider, spiny-backed orb-weaver, bird-dung crab spider, and the (Oh, my gosh!) giant golden bird-eating spider.
THINK OF THEM LIKE BUG NINJAS!
The careful curating of animal science and creepy critter pyschology make this one a natural for a readaloud for arachnid nature units and cross-the-curriculum literature and biology study for primary students. "The skillful juggling of scientific fact and emotional truth make this a winner," says Publishers Weekly starred review.