Five friendly little spiders
Cobweb Capers by Dr Jane McGee and Marisa Lewis
Cobweb Capers is a collection of stories featuring eight-legged friends or foes – depending on your position – from an author hoping to change how children feel about spiders. We’re introduced to Mirabelle, Marley, Clay, AJ and Orson who live in Mr Lee’s shed. Orson speaks only in rhyme and each character has their own individual talents and traits.
Hedgehogs, moths, butterflies, bumblebees, dragonflies, locusts, wasps and cats all make an appearance, and will appeal to children interested in animals and insects. The tales are written in a gentle, child-friendly voice and recall stories I remember from my own youth by authors like Enid Blyton and Jayne Fischer. The characters are further brought to life by animated, colourful and cute illustrations by Marisa Lewis. There are lessons about playing fairly, being considerate of others, taking pride in our abilities and appreciating home – even if is it a cold shed!
Although spiders are essential to the ecosystem, they are often misunderstood and maligned. Cobweb Capers presents these creatures far more pleasantly than how they are typically portrayed. 30% of the net profits from the sale of each book is donated to Buglife, the only organisation in Europe devoted to invertebrate conservation.
Dr Jane McGee is a full-time psychology teacher who was inspired to write Cobweb Capers after taking a group of students to an arachnophobia workshop. The students, who were initially afraid of spiders, all volunteered up to handle the Chilean rose tarantula at the end of the session. After witnessing how familiarity reduces fear, Jane decided to create spider stories to encourage children to see these fascinating creatures in a more positive light.
Cobweb Capers was published by Blue Falcon in July 2021 (see this book on the publisher's website). Intended for ages 4-7, but as the font is quite small, this is best read aloud to children by adults, as opposed to being suitable for beginner readers. Thanks to Dr Jane McGee for kindly sending us a gift of this book as well as some lovely stickers of Mirabelle, Marley, Clay, AJ and Orson. All opinions expressed are my own.