My eight year old niece liked this collection of short stories and folk tales about spiders, declaring "Arachne's Gift" and "How the Spider Got His Waistline" to be the best stories in the group. She read this book on her own, which required some determination on her part, because many of these stories are probably a bit of a stretch beyond her current reading level. But she did it, which I think is a testament to how well-written and engaging these stories are.
Spider tales from many countries were represented, and these stories all portrayed the spider in different lights. Sometimes the spider was a trickster, sometimes he was a helper, sometimes she was a source of inspiration, and sometimes she was even a mate. To a human. The stories were separated by spider facts, spider lore, spider legends, and spider poems, all of which were entertaining and interesting in their own right. When coupled with the folk tales, however, these little interludes made the entire book take on added depth and character.
Now, spiders are not
high on my list of favorite creatures. In fact, I hate them. However, books like this help me to see them in different ways, and that might
make me freak out a little less the next time I see one in my house. Depending, of course, upon how big and fast it is, and upon whether or not it's in my house to trick me or to help me.