Title: The Spider and the Fly
Author: Mary Howitt
Artist: Tony DiTerlizzi
Genre: Horror / Animal
Year Published: 2002
Year Read: 2004
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Content Rating: Ages 6+ (Death)
“The Spider and the Fly” is a beatifully haunting tale based on a poem by Mary Howitt and with gloomy illustrations by Tony DiTerlizzi. The story won a Caldecott Honor Award and is about how a creepy Vincent Price look-alike spider tries to entice an innocent looking female fly to come to his parlor and the book also explains the consequences of falling for the flattering words of strangers who are a threat to you. “The Spider and the Fly” is a great story that the whole family will enjoy, although small children might be creeped out by this book.
Mary Howitt writes a dazzling cautionary tale about how flattering words from a dangerous stranger can cause problems for the person who falls victim to the stranger’s elegant compliments. Mary Howitt displays this gothic story in a lyrical prose, same style as you would see in a Vincent Price movie. Tony DiTerlizzi’s illustrations are haunting and beautiful at the same time. The highlighted illustrations are the images of the past victims of the Spider as they are shown as transparent ghosts and they also foreshadow what might happen to the female Fly if she is not cautious about the Spider’s mysterious intentions about inviting her to his parlor.
Parents should know that the ending might worry small children. I will not reveal what happens at the end, but if you know about the spider and the fly food chain scenario, then you might have a clue about what happens at the end of the book. Parents should reassure their children that what happens at the end of the book is apart of the natural food chain of insects and even the Spider gives an afterword at the end of the book explaining about various spiders’ instincts and he even quotes about Charlotte being a predator in “Charlotte’s Web” when she captures various insects for her meal.
“The Spider and the Fly” is a great story about how a tricky stranger’s flattering words can be a downfall for young people who do not know the dangers of going near strangers that might have bad intentions, even though they are not aware of it. The book also points out that it is good to be extremely cautious around people you do not know for you cannot tell their true intentions until it is too late. This book will surely capitivate hearts of many children, but it is more suitable for children ages six and older due to the vocabulary being a bit advanced for a younger child and due to the unfortunate ending that will scare off many young children.