cover image Spartacus the Spider

Spartacus the Spider

Etienne Delessert, Creative Editions, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-56846-213-4

Despite his parents' aspirations ("Honor and fame! This is what my parents wished for me. So they named me Spartacus"), Spartacus's circumstances differ comically from his namesake's. He's a small, furry spider, living in Delessert's trademark dreamy pink landscape, surrounded by creatures with glittery eyes and buckteeth. He's a warrior of a sort, though; he's out to catch flies and moths. Delessert (Moon Theater) portrays him as a gladiator with a miniature helmet, shield, and spear, but they're no help. "I learned to spin threads, but I was not very good at it. Threads broke. Webs drooped. I became overwhelmed by a deep sense of failure." He persists, building a super-strong web by doubling and tripling his own silk, but he is instantly appalled by the carnage his new web brings: "If my web couldn't ever be broken, the world's entire moth population might pile up in it... And flies, even birds! Airplanes?" Though it's a conventional theme—defining heroism not as brute strength, but as being true to oneself—Delessert's poignant exploration of the spider's existential self-doubt is anything but. Ages 5–up. (Sept.)