Monday, September 14, 2009

Favorite Children's book

One of my favorite children’s books is somewhat off the beaten path. It is called The Spider and the Fly, and is about a very manipulative spider that plays on the vanity of a fly to lure her onto his dinner plate. The text itself was written by an 18th century female poet and has recently been illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi. The drawings in the book are all black and white and are in the style of a 1920s silent film. It is a little bit of a dark tale, and maybe should be reserved for 3rd/4th grade and older, but I don’t feel that all children’s books need to have a happy ending.

The story is sort of a warning about the real world, and to be wary of those whom you think may not have good intentions. Learning to differentiate between those with good intentions and those with bad is a very important lesson. Though children deserve to be protected from many of the evils in the world, they also need some perspective on the kind of world we actually live in. This book is actually very beautifully written, and the pictures in it are incredibly intricate and detailed. I really enjoy the book because it is so creatively written and the pictures have been drawn to encompass and add even more details to the story that is written. In the classroom, I could use this book for many things. For one it could just serve as a simple personification of the food chain in a science lesson. Also, it could open a discussion on social interactions, and how to “be nice” without putting yourself in danger of being manipulated or taken advantage of.

I also feel like the book could be great inspiration for multiple writing exercises (or writer’s workshop). Students could describe a time when they felt manipulated or “had the wool pulled over their eyes,” and/or could describe how they could avoid being deceitful with the people around them. Since the book has such detailed drawings, it could lead to whole assignments on how the rest of the ghost bugs were tricked by the spider.

The book even serves as a good example for an art/drawing lesson because of the way things are drawn. Also there are online activities that go along with the book where children can assemble and color their own Spider and Fly characters. The poem and the illustrations allow for a great deal of imagination, and any student could sit looking studying the pictures for a long time as I did when I first found the book.

Link to buy!

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