Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sophie's Masterpiece: A Spider's Tale

Sophie's Masterpiece: A Spider's Tale, written by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Jane Dyer, is the story of the most sweet and generous spider anywhere - well, next to Charlotte. Sophie is certainly not an ordinary house spider she is an artist creating wonderful masterpieces with her silky thread.

When it was time for Sophie to strike out on her own, she moved into a boardinghouse where she got right to work beautifying the place by weaving a web of curtains for the front parlor. The landlady did not appreciate this work and swatted at Sophie. And so the story goes as Sophie travels from the bottom floor of the boardinghouse to the top floor where she wearily slips into a young woman's knitting basket.

"By this time, many spider years had passed. Sophie was older.
She only had energyto spin a few small things for herself...
a tiny rose-patterned case for her pillow,
eight colorful socks to keep her legs warm.
But mostly she slept."

When Sophie is discovered in the basket, she is frightened by the thought of another journey, but instead she is relieved as the young woman carefully picked up her needle and thread without bothering her. To Sophie's delight she notices the woman busily knitting a pair of baby booties and a sweater for her baby which soon will be born. When the yarn is all gone and the woman cannot afford to buy any more, Sophie takes over and begins to spin the masterpiece of a lifetime. Woven into the thread, Sophie carefully places...moonlight, fragrant pine, wisps of night, old lullabies, playful snowflakes and finally her very own heart. As the woman was about to cover her infant with an old brown quilt, she notices something on her windowsill and with love and wonderment places it on her sleeping baby - Sophie's masterpiece!

This book would be such a wonderful gift for a new baby with a beautiful knitted blanket to go with it. For more ideas on books for new parents and babies, check here and here and here. And while you're at it, check out this post about some of our favorite Autumn books including Three Pebbles and a Song also by Eileen Spinelli.

Do you know about Just One More Book? It is a thrice-weekly podcast
which promotes and celebrates literacy and great children's books. Click here to read a post and listen to a podcast about the illustrator of Sophie's Masterpiece - Jane Dyer.

And before "the readers leave," as Emmy refers to you, take a look at her spiders! Three little spiders ready to create magic of their very own.


  1. This sounds like such a lovely book! And it also makes me think of the artist Louise Bourgeois who was fascinated by textiles and spiders.

  2. This book just tugs at my heart! Thank you for letting me know about Louise Bourgeois. Her Maman sculpture is amazing.

  3. Louise Bourgeois can be quite spooky and unsettling, but always interesting I think! And I've just come across this book today which I think might pair well with Sophie's masterpiece: