Saturday, July 7, 2012

Book Review: A Christmas Spider's Miracle by Trinka Hakes Noble

✰✰✰✰½ A long time ago in a faraway forest of the old Ukraine, there lived a mother spider with her brood of little ones. As Christmas approached, the cold temperatures became unbearable. The mother spider did her best to protect her children, but as she drifted off to sleep she feared the cold would be too much for them.

Nearby, a poor peasant woman with children of her own struggles to make ends meet. The woman's children have been very good, but she is sad because she has nothing to give them on Christmas. There will be no feast or presents for her children, but the woman decides that at the very least, there will be a tree. Later that night at the edge of the forest, she finds the perfect little fir tree and brings it home, but alas, she does not possess the materials required to make decorations for the little tree. The poor woman falls into a troubled sleep.

Meanwhile, the mother spider awakens. She explores her new home. It is warmer than the forest and there is food as well. Grateful for her new home, the spider decides to give the peasant woman and her children the greatest Christmas gift of all and she spins her way into legend.

The Bottom Line: The legend of the Christmas spider is one of my favorite holiday stories. It's the reason many people (including me) have a sparkly spider ornament on their tree at Christmastime. This legend has been retold many times, but author Trinka Hakes Noble brings her own magic to the tale. Also, children will enjoy Stephen Costanza's watercolor and colored pencil illustrations, which were painted with a beautifully subdued palette of blues, greens, and purples. A Christmas Spider's Miracle will appeal to all generations from the very young to the young at heart. Highly recommended for children in grades Pre-K - 2. Also, highly recommended for librarians and teachers looking for a holiday book to tie in with a craft project (for example, a Christmas Spider Ornament) for story time.

Details: A Christmas Spider's Miracle written by Trinka Hakes Noble & illustrated by Stephen Costanza. Hardcover picture book published by Sleeping Bear Press in 2011. 32 p. ISBN: 978-1-58536-602-6

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