cover image The Daddy Longlegs Blues

The Daddy Longlegs Blues

Mike Ornstein, , illus. by Lisa Kopelke. . Sterling, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-4027-4359-7

The hero of this light, rhythmic science/music primer, an itinerant eight-legged musician (who is not a spider, the back matter explains, but rather a harvestman, from the order Opiliones), really does have a right to sing the blues: “His daddy was a wanderer/ and his momma was, too./ He hatched from an egg/ his momma laid in a crack/ just before she got squashed/ in the back of a shack.” First-time author Ornstein's rhymesestablish a hip vibe, with just enough winks to the audience to add humor without undercutting the message (“Come dance as The Daddy gives his drums a beat./ He has eight long legs but he ain't got feet”). Unfortunately, Kopelke's acrylic and pencil images are far from funky, which the book's glossary defines as “having the soulful feeling of early blues.” Her Daddy Longlegs looks like a mud ball with a limited expressive range, while her settings feel empty and under-imagined. It's the visual equivalent of clapping on one and three. Ages 4–7. (Aug.)