Speckle the Spider

K-Gr 3—Speckle the spider thinks he's special. In search of fame, he stows away on some bananas bound for foreign shores. After landing in a family's kitchen, the spider is captured by Hettie Highbottom, who sends him off for expert identification. Speckle turns out to be special after all; he is touted in the papers as a rare species and given a place of honor at the zoo. Tiring of the spotlight, Speckle and his zoomate escape back to the Bahamas. Once home, he realizes that his friends and family are what make him special. Scattered among the pages of the text are pockets and flaps with Speckle's report card, travel documents, newspaper clippings, and more (no maps, however, contrary to what is printed on the cover, which includes a tactile Speckle). These gimmicks are not enough to save this meandering tale. Characters and plot points are revealed with little development, particularly the homecoming, which feels hollow (the family and friends who make him feel special are never introduced). While Speckle is appealingly drawn, the rest of Dodson's ink and acrylic art is stiff. Stick with Doreen Cronin's Diary of a Spider (HarperCollins, 2005) for your spider lovers.—Rachel G. Payne, Brooklyn Public Library, NY

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