One Hungry Spider
By Jeannie Baker
Reviewed by Mia Macrossan
Jeannie Baker’s work is renowned her miniature collage constructions impressive for their accuracy and detail. Her ground- breaking innovative approach has won numerous awards. Her many books, each a visual feast, include Where the Forest Meets the Sea, Mirror, Belonging. The Story of Rosie Dock, Window, Millicent and Polar. Do visit her website which gives enticing details about her life and work.
One Hungry Spider has been republished in a splendid 35 anniversary edition. This classic counting book is a treasure from beginning to end. As a counting book it is simple and efficient but also tells young readers a lot about a day in the life of an orbweb spider.
The reader is taken from numbers 1 – 10 by the spider who has close encounters with his prey and his predators.
Not everyone is comfortable with spiders but Jeannie does a marvellous job of presenting this ‘ day in the life of’ in a fascinating matter of fact style. It is riveting through its attention to detail combined with a laconic text that leaves much to the imagination. For number 3 the text reads:
Three birds flew close by.
The spider kept still-
she did not want them to see her.
The opposite page shows three ominous large birds circling the small spider in the centre. Nothing more needs to be said but the tension is palpable.
This book is always informative in such a kid friendly way:
Seven ladybirds were flying high.
One got caught
but the spider took no notice.
Spiders don’t like taste of ladybirds.
At the end after the spider feasts on ten noisy flies the web is torn and broken, so she pulls it down, eats it, and begins building a new one. What pragmatism and economy! It is a real world lesson presented in beautiful detailed realistic art. This time round I noticed and enjoyed anew Jeannie’s subtle and effective use of light.
A book for every child’s bookshelf and every primary library.