cover image Speckle the Spider

Speckle the Spider

Emma Dodson, Candlewick, $14.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4778-0

More enticing than the wandering plot of Dodson's (The Badly Drawn Dog) large-format, paper-over-board book are the volume's novelty add-ons. Bahamian spider Speckle would rather spend school days dancing than attending to tasks like web building, creeping, and crawling, as readers discover when they remove his report card from an envelope. A pamphlet promoting a friend's performance in a flea circus inspires the spider to "show the world how special I am!" After hitching a ride on a ship bound for "Somewhere Else" (per a pull-out travel document), he lands in a family's home, where he is captured and identified as a rare species. Transported to a zoo, Speckle and a somersaulting female arachnid perform for admiring spectators and become "superstar spiders" before concluding that fame has its price and retiring to a quieter life in the Bahamas. Letters, a booklet of spider facts, a newspaper clipping, and large fold-down flaps are among the interactive elements that enliven this otherwise slight tale, which is illustrated with capricious acrylic and ink cartoons that tweak scale and perspective. Ages 3–6. (July)