cover image Just Itzy

Just Itzy

Lana Krumwiede, illus. by Greg Pizzoli. Candlewick, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5811-3

Everybody has a backstory, including the Itsy Bitsy Spider. Readers meet “small for his age” Itzy on his first day of “spindergarten,” when he’s eager to prove there’s nothing “Bitzy” about him. But Itzy is thwarted in all of his attempts at becoming a web-spinning, fly-catching spider (his obstacles include a girl eating curds and whey, and an old lady who likes to swallow critters of all sizes whole) until he discovers his older brother, Gutzy, trapped on a roof. Spider, meet waterspout. Krumwiede (the Psi Chronicles) does some passable spinning herself, creating a spider school culture with its own mantra (“Keep your eye on the fly”) and values (big spiders never bring mom-packed lunches to school; they catch flies on the fly). But the story never gets beyond mild-mannered in its narrative momentum or humor. And while Pizzoli’s (Number One Sam) use of color and texture is as strong as ever, his spiders look schematic and have little in common with the quirky personalities that populated his previous books. Ages 2–5. Author’s agent: Molly Jaffa, Folio Literary Management. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Feb.)