cover image Luigi, the Spider Who Wanted to Be a Kitten

Luigi, the Spider Who Wanted to Be a Kitten

Michelle Knudsen, illus. by Kevin Hawkes. Candlewick, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1911-1

This quirky be-yourself tale by the team behind Library Lion starts out as broad comedy, as a “big, hairy spider” takes up residence in an old house, where a pale-skinned, silver-haired lady greets him with delight (“It feels like a kitten! I have always wanted a kitten”), names him Luigi, and gives him a cat toy as well as a tiny box to sleep in (“He had never known that kittens led such magical lives”). If his host loves him as a kitten, Luigi resolves to comport himself thusly, and softly shadowed acrylic and pencil art by Hawkes deftly renders furry Luigi as remarkably kitten-like. Then the woman’s friends come for a game night; after she introduces Luigi, and he knocks himself out acting like a feline, his real identity is soon revealed by the group. Luigi’s anguish lasts until a heart-to-heart clarifies the situation. Though her masquerade’s motive doesn’t quite persuade (“I already knew you were a spider. I just never said anything because you were having so much fun pretending to be a kitten”), the woman’s pledge of unconditional love assuages Luigi’s doubts in this emotional roller coaster of a story. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Mar.)