We love books in our house. They are precious gifts to be cherished and loved forever. So when I was offered the opportunity to review a new children’s book for my blog it took me all of 0.35 seconds to say yes.
A Huntsman Spider in my House
Written by – Michelle K. Ray
Illustrated by – Sylvie Ashford
I have to confess I’m not a fan of spiders, or any other creatures that have wiggly legs and that scuttling behaviour that makes me go all prickly. But I am super-keen not to pass my own issues onto my kids and so am very careful to control my response to bugs when confronted with them. Where I fall short is in actively promoting a happy and lively interest in them and that’s a shame, especially for my little boy, who seems very inquisitive where small creatures are concerned.
A Huntsman Spider in my House addresses all of these issues perfectly. It is a delightful and charming tale of a Huntsman spider who lives in the house of a young girl. She is afraid of the spider, and the story follows her beautifully simplistic childlike thought process as she explores her feelings about it, and the ways in which the spider could be dealt with.
The story manages to deliver a valuable lesson on treating all such creatures with respect, without falling into the trap of being preachy. It leaves you with a deep sense of satisfaction, and provides a practical fear-resolution solution to which kids of all ages can relate.
My six-year-old daughter was able to read the book to me, and my three-year-old son listened attentively – the simple rhyming rhythm of the text creates a natural flow for the story, which is beautifully illustrated with images that are rich in colour and engaging in their reinforcement of the story.
Many children’s books on spiders seek to down-play the scary-spider imagery with caricatured animations that detract from the real creature features. Not so in this book. Although he has a friendly face the spider is depicted as big and brown and hairy – just like a real Huntsman Spider. When I first saw the cover I had to suppress an involuntary shudder, but the more I read this book the more I feel comfortable around the images. My kids had no such preconceptions (my efforts at concealing my own spider-fear issues are thankfully paying off!). My son actively enjoyed touching the pictures of the spider on each page. It was as if he found them reassuring.
And that’s the point. This book isn’t just about what you can do if you find a spider in your house. It’s about raising awareness about them, demystifying them, and dispelling common myths. I particularly like how, at the end of the book, there is a section of facts about the Huntsman spider, and website links where the curious can find out more. One final lovely touch is a colouring page that invites children to adorn their very own Huntsman spider picture in whatever colours they choose.
We don’t have Huntsman spiders where I live (in France) but some pretty fierce-looking House spiders tramp in and out each Autumn and Spring. Just last night I found one resting on the wall above my bed. It’s always been our habit to simply evict spiders who have taken up residence a little too close for comfort, but as I watched my husband capture the not-so-little chap in a glass and wander up the field in the moonlight to release him I thought about this book, and felt content that its tale may cause even one person to pause for thought before they mindlessly kill a spider they find in their home.
The book is the first in an intended series entitled ‘Little Aussie Critters’. If the rest of the stories are as well presented as this then they will make a valuable addition to any bookshelf.