cover image I’m Trying to Love Spiders

I’m Trying to Love Spiders

Bethany Barton. Viking, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-670-01693-8

Here’s a guide to spiders that acknowledges that arachnids can be difficult to cozy up to. In the attempt to study them closely, Barton (This Monster Cannot Wait!) admits, bad things may happen. Sometimes the narrator’s fear gets the better of her: “Oh my gosh! There’s a spider stuck on there! Smash it! Squish it! Get it right now!” The next page reveals a black blot in the center of an otherwise spotless page. “We’re not very good at loving spiders just yet,” Barton concedes. She hikes through the landscape of spider facts, covering the bad news honestly (the “totally gross” extended arachnid family of ticks and scorpions, the way spiders liquefy their food) while also praising spiders’ more impressive attributes, such as silk they spin into webs. “That’s like you and me building a house with our hair,” she gushes. “And then catching food on it.” Big, black brushstrokes give the illustrations and text the impact of still-wet pages, as if they’d just been completed. The skillful juggling of scientific fact and emotional truth make this a winner. Ages 4–8. Agent Stephen Barr, Writers House. (July)