I'm Trying to Love Spiders

illus. by Bethany Barton. 40p. Viking. Jul. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780670016938. LC 2014031680.
K-Gr 2—This informational picture book takes an amusing and novel approach. An unseen arachnophobe relates a series of fascinating facts about spiders (their appearance and anatomy, their eating habits, venomous spiders, and more) as she attempts to talk herself out of her fear after she encounters one. An outline of her hand appears repeatedly, as she contemplates squashing the creature, but she ultimately praises the arachnids for their impressive web spinning talents and their habit of consuming insects harmful to humans. The presentation is original and engaging, with a zippy text and hilarious visuals. The cartoon illustrations are appealingly childlike, with the font a hand-written scrawl, and the spiders depicted are downright cuddly. Solid material on spiders is cleverly woven into the narrative, and fun facts about different spider varieties are incorporated into the endpapers, though the content here isn't comprehensive enough for report writing. Nonetheless, the presentation is original and engaging.
VERDICT A creative addition to animal collections. Pair with Elise Gravel's "Disgusting Creatures" (Tundra) books for a fun lesson plan.

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