cover image Sylvie


Jean Reidy, illus. by Lucy Ruth Cummins. Atheneum, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5344-6348-6

In this standalone spin-off to Truman, a gray spider named Sylvie keeps a close eye on four of an apartment building’s human residents, portrayed with varying skin tones, whom she thinks of as “her people.” Though everything seems “just so” for each denizen, she’s lately noticed from the fire escape that something’s amiss, and wonders whether “the four need something... more.” Sylvie knows that “not everyone appreciates a spider who calls attention to herself,” but she nevertheless takes a risk; a vertical spread depicts the arachnid spinning a silvery web to beckon each individual to the building’s rooftop, where they quickly bond and transform the space into a community gathering place. Not only is Sylvie not imperiled, she’s celebrated and warmly welcomed into the fold. Reidy records Sylvie’s qualms and enthusiasms with a breathless, enthusiastic voice (her idea is “audacious, dangerous, MAGNANIMOUS”), while Cummins’s digitally finished multimedia art combines reportorial immediacy with a kind of sketchbook impressionism that takes readers inside Sylvie’s head. Read with or without pandemic-era context in mind, it’s a warming story about the necessity of connection and community. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Jr./Folio Literary. (May)