cover image Miss Spider's ABC

Miss Spider's ABC

David Kirk. Scholastic, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-28279-6

Celebration is de rigueur among Miss Spider's friends, and this ebullient primer shows party preparations in progress from A to Z: ""Bumblebees blow balloons./ Caterpillars circle/ dragonfly decorations."" All sorts of insects assist, from moths whose white- and black-spotted wings resemble velvety floor-length capes to termites who tote colorful wrapped presents in their mandibles. At the end of the sequence, Miss Spider floats in on the back of a striped Zebra butterfly and receives a welcoming shout of ""Happy Birthday!"" from the buggy assembly. Kirk (Miss Spider's New Car) sets the activity in a flowery garden and a hornets' nest; he substitutes gently waving antennae for paper streamers in the closing scene. His dew-bright oil paintings glow with the fluorescent yellow-green of fandango-ing fireflies, shades of backlit midnight-blue and lush lavender-rose hues. Each oversize letter of the alphabet appears near the text, so that readers have an easy reference point as they scan the vivid artwork. Devotees will detect their returning favorites: Holley hides among the ""smiling spiders"" taking shelter beneath the red roses, and May and Ike greet the termites beside the ""very vivid violets."" Kirk's witty rhymes and the ever polite Miss Spider's hostessing talents are absent this time around, but the juiced-up, color-saturated illustrations are thrilling all the same. Ages 4-7. (Oct.)