cover image The Spider Who Created the World

The Spider Who Created the World

Amy MacDonald. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-531-09505-8

""When the sky was young and the world just a dream, when the stars were still learning their names, a spider named Nobb came floating through the Air, at the end of a long, soft thread."" So begins this well-crafted tale, an original creation myth. Nobb, searching for a place to lay her egg, is turned away by the inhospitable Sun, Moon and Cloud. Then Nobb gets tough. She captures a chunk from each entity and weaves them together to form a new planet, ingeniously squeezing the Cloud to form the oceans. MacDonald (Little Beaver and the Echo) finds poetry in concise, repetitive language, and explores a metaphor that young naturalists will easily grasp. Karas abandons the skittish cartoon figures of Mr. Carey's Garden (reviewed above) to experiment with thick outlines and multilayered, monochrome backgrounds in gouache and acrylic. When the opalescent Egg ""hatche[s] out not just spiderlings but... all the birds-small and big-that fill the world to this day,"" Karas's bold shapes, which work so well in the simplest spreads, jostle one another amid a riot of color. Yet the effect is of a tinted slide under a microscope, alive with paramecium-not a bad impression of the earth's origins. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)