cover image The Roly- Poly Spider

The Roly- Poly Spider

Jill Sardegna. Scholastic, $13.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-590-47119-0

Using catchy verses that follow the rhyme scheme of ``The Itsy-Bitsy Spider,'' Sardegna (K Is for Kiss Goodnight) presents a seemingly sunny tale which, on closer inspection, masks abundant unpleasantness. This yellow, appropriately bug-eyed spider appears jolly, but is in fact a selfish and crafty creature who lures bugs to her web by complaining of loneliness, engages them in friendly chat, then eats them. ``She snagged a caterpillar/ and asked him, `What's your name?'/ He said, `My name is Lester./ I'm handsome as can be.'/ Said the roly-poly spider,/ `You look like lunch to me.'"" She's only following nature, of course, but her lack of menace and casual slaughter will likely disturb the book's intended audience-the cuddly victims here will evoke more sympathy than the eponymous protagonist. Unfortunately, Arnold's (Green Wilma) outwardly playful watercolor and colored- pencil compositions reinforce the mayhem of massacre, as they depict a half-eaten ladybug in the spider's mouth, a hapless ``great big fly'' ensnared between two pie crusts, etc. Ages 3-6. (Oct.)