cover image Seven Spiders Spinning

Seven Spiders Spinning

Gregory Maguire. Clarion Books, $16 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-395-68965-3

This high-camp fantasy-mystery uses farcical elements to embellish a tale of spider intrigue. En route to a lab at Harvard, seven Siberian snow spiders escape from the frozen blocks of ice that held them captive for thousands of years. The hapless spiders scuttle their way into Hamlet, Vt., where they witness a meeting of the Tattletales, a club of seven elementary school girls. Besotted by the Tattletales, the spiders set out one by one to meet the girl of their choice-with fatal results. As the spiders' numbers decline, the spurned survivors lose their ardor and begin to seek revenge. Fit into this a subplot involving a romance between the truck driver who transported the spiders and the nurse who lulls him out of a coma by reading love stories and bestowing kisses. Add a meddlesome reporter named Meg Snoople, who is determined to uncover the missing spiders, and the plot only thickens. Though the story moves along at a brisk pace, the humor risks being precious and, sometimes, arch. The compassion of Maguire's more serious and wittier Missing Sisters is absent. Ages 8-12. (Aug.)