Book Review: The Very Busy Spider

Rating: ★★★★☆

In this pleasant sequel to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle introduces a spider who, carried by the wind, lands on a fence post and begins to spin her web.  In each two-page spread, a different animal approaches her, inviting her to participate in an activity familiar to them: the horse wants her to go for a ride, the cow invites her to eat some grass, the sheep invites her for a run in the meadow, and so on.  The spider’s response to each invitation is silence, because “She was very busy spinning her web.”  At the end of the story,, the purpose of the web is revealed when a pesty fly (which had buzzed around each animal in the preceding pages) meets its fitting end, and the spider settles down to sleep, satisfied after her busy day.

This great toddler book has a lot going for it.  Farm animals introduce themselves with their characteristic sound and behavior, we learn about a spider’s natural behavior, and each turn of the page page brings another pleasing repetition of greeting and silence that moves the story along nicely, while retaining the attention of preverbal listeners.

The spider’s example of steady, goal-oriented and satisfying work is a good model for children who need to grow up into productive adults.  While the book doesn’t have quite the brilliance of The Very Hungry Caterpiller, it is a good addition to a child’s reading basket.

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Publication Information: Carle, Eric. Very Busy Spider, The. Philomel. 1984. ISBN: 0399229191.
Categories: 4 Stars, Age 00-04, Honey For a Child's Heart, Read-Aloud Handbook
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Posted on August 28, 2010

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