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Sophie's Masterpiece: A Spider's Tale Paperback – May 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (May 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689866801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689866807
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 11 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Sophie is an artist. She is also a house spider, but one that children will certainly cheer and not fear. The webs she weaves are spectacular--some are stars, or hammocks, or sun patterns--and her mama is very proud of her. When she grows old enough to strike out on her own, however, she is not warmly greeted by the world at large. At Beekman's Boardinghouse, a dull sort of place that "cried out for her talents," she only wants to beautify it with her gossamer artistry. But even as she is spinning a web of curtains for the front parlor, "blending a golden thread of sun into her silk," she is swatted by a screaming landlady! She scampers into the tugboat captain's closet where she sets to work on making him a new suit, day after day, a sleeve here, a collar there. Once discovered there (the captain screeches and climbs out onto the windowsill), she moves on yet again. Now a much older spider, she climbs up a long staircase to settle into a young woman's knitting basket. One day, the woman discovers Sophie... and smiles! Sophie, noticing that her new friend is pregnant and in need of a baby blanket, decides that she will spin one for her baby, a cloth into which she weaves starlight, snippets of fragrant pine, wisps of night, old lullabies, playful snowflakes, and, in the end, her very own heart. Illustrator Jane Dyer, who worked with Eileen Spinelli on When Mama Comes Home Tonight, has outdone herself in Sophie's Masterpiece, painting this bittersweet story in gentle watercolors. She manages to convincingly anthropomorphize Sophie, and paintings like the one of the courageous spider struggling up the long staircase, casting long shadows, will linger long with readers. (Ages 4 and older) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

The team behind When Mama Comes Home Tonight here introduces readers to a spider who weaves with grace and serves others with courage. Dyer's gently tinted watercolors show Sophie as a blond with a human face and a perpetually tranquil expression (often sporting a beret); her eight-limbed body, with its two arms and six colorfully-stockinged legs, seems perfectly believable. Over time, the tender-hearted arachnid weaves garments she thinks the human boarders in the boardinghouse she inhabits will find useful, but she's always chased away before she can complete them. Tiring of her nomadic life, she discovers at last a quiet mother-to-be who is not afraid of spiders and who hasn't enough money for a baby blanket. Sophie, now nearing the end of her life, then starts on her last project: "She was down to the farthest corner of the blanket when she heard the cry of the young woman's newborn baby. And there, on that farthest corner, is where Sophie wove into the blanket her very own heart." Dyer paints Sophie in various spidery attitudes; in one painting, she dozes in a knitting basket, dwarfed by huge balls of yarn. Later, at work on her piŠce de r‚sistance, she crouches, silver-haired, beside a snowy windowpane. Spinelli and Dyer's story of devotion and generosity is as delicately woven as Sophie's own work. Ages 4-7.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Eileen Spinelli is no stranger to the Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers list. Since her debut in 1991 with Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, an IRA/CBC Children's Choice book and Christopher Award winner, she has gone on to author numerous picture books, poetry collections, and chapter books, including the best-selling When Mama Comes Home Tonight, and the critically acclaimed Sophie's Masterpiece. Eileen lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Beautifully illustrated , delightful story .
avoiding plastic
Sophie's Masterpiece: A Spider's Tale , written by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Jane Dyer is one of the very best children's book I have ever read.
David J. Gannon
I have read this book to kindergarten, first, fifth, and second grade students.
Mamie Watts

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By David J. Gannon on June 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Sophie's Masterpiece: A Spider's Tale , written by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Jane Dyer is one of the very best children's book I have ever read.
The story concerns a spider named Sophie. Sophie doesn't just spin a web--she weaves extraordinary works of art. Everyone who knows her is in awe of her talents.
She strikes off on her own to a drab little boarding house where she takes up residence and weaves her wonderful webs--but none of the people there care for her webs--or for her, for that matter. Except for a boarder who is expecting a child. She welcomes Sophie into her room and as she knits clothes for the baby Sophie, now old and frail, weaves a special baby gift of her own.
Warm and touching without being maudlin, Sophie's Masterpiece is a kind and loving story with extraordinary illustrations the dazzle on their own yet blend perfectly with the tale.
I have given this book as a gift to many children and am told time after time that it soon ranks as those kids favorite book.
Sophie's Masterpiece is a masterpiece, indeed!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Miller on March 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The illustrations in this book are the most beautiful and expressive that I believe I have ever seen. They say "a picture tells a thousand words." One look at the picture of old Sophie creating her final masterpiece brings tears to my eyes. And what a beautiful story and gentle lesson about perserverence and kindness. Both of my daughters adore this book, and my best friend still hates me for buying it for her daughter because she says it makes her cry every time she reads it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By pinto on February 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for my 5 year old, whose name is also Sophie. The book discusses the journey of a spider through the years and her last loving gift before expiring. If your children know about Charlotte's Web, then they understand that spiders do not live forever and that makes the ending a little softer. We loved this book. Buy it you will not be disappointed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Ferguson VINE VOICE on July 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is the second children's book of writer/illustrator team Eileen Spinelli and Jane Dyer who have the ability to create instant classics in the children's book department. In Sophie's Masterpiece, thier second effort together, Sophie the spider is a web-spinner extraordinaire whose works go largly unappreciated by the residents of Beekman's Bordinghouse. By the time Sophie finds a comfortable home with a "young woman" on the thrid floor, she is very old and tired - but she finds the strength to spin one last work of art for the young woman's new baby. Spinelli has taken the cycle of life and death and created a story that, while ultimately sad at the end, does not dampen the wonderful feelings you have for Sophie's selfless and beautiful act. Dyer's watercolor illustrations are perfectly in tune with the story and are incredibly detailed from Sophie's shadow on the staircase to the individual strands of each of Sophie's webs! A truly beautiful book all the way around.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Hallberg on December 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Sophie is a sweet, caring, talented spider who weaves wonderful things for herself and the people she cares about. She says good-bye to her mother and strikes out on her own to beautify a boarding house. Her gifts are rejected by the staff there, sometimes even before she has a chance to spin them, but fortunately she discovers a young woman resident, knitting. The spider realises that she is knitting for a baby, but before a blanket can be knitted, she runs out of yarn. Sophie steps in to make the blanket for the baby, and the young woman accepts it with happiness.
The illustrations are nice, even if the spider is a little silly with her 8 multi-color socks. The picture of the mother with her baby in a bassinet by her bed is sweet, as the mother sleeps with her hand on her baby. I can only imagine that soon the little one will be snuggled in bed with her mama and they will both be wrapped in the blanket made by the caring spider.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I read this book as part of our spider unit. My third grade class was absolutely enthralled with this beautiful story. When nine year old boys are wiping their eyes along with the teacher and the girls, you know you've got a special book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I don't like to limit myself on reading so I read everything that interests me. Lately I find a great joy in acquiring and reading children's books even though I don't have any kids of my own. Sophie's Masterpiece is so touching and so beautifully told. It proves that you don't need a 500 page book to convey a message. The wonderful illustrations make the book even more enchanting. This is a classic book and a keeper. I'm also not a spider lover but I now have an appreciation of their art even if I still have to convince myself that they are as cute as Sophie.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I recently bought this book for my daughter. We both love it.
Sophie the spider is more talented than most. Everybody knows that someday Sophie will spin a masterpiece. When she comes to that point in life where a spider must "strike out on her own" Sophie finds herself at Beekman's Boardinghouse. It's a dull, drab place that cries out for her talent!
But her efforts go unappreciated at every turn. She tries to spin curtains for the parlor, make a colorful suit for a sea faring captain, and weave new slippers for the cook. Each time she is discovered and greeted with disdain or fear.
Sophie climbs her way to the very top of the boarding house stairs and makes her way to the knitting basket of a young, pregnant woman. This time when she is discovered the woman only smiles. A now frail and elderly spider, Sophie watches as the woman knits a pair of booties and a sweater for her soon to be baby. But when the yarn runs short there will be no baby blanket. The landlady offers a rough, scratchy old quilt that Sophie has encountered on her journey through the boarding house. Sophie knows that for a baby's soft skin it will never do. Sophie knows she is the only one to remedy the situation.
So she sets out to weave a blanket for the child even though she is feeble and weak with age. She goes to the wide windowsill and spins a blanket with her own soft silk and moonlight, starlight, lullabyes, playful snowflakes, and other wondrous snatches of the lovely world. Just as the baby is born Sophie hears the cry of the newborn and right there spins in her very own heart (be prepared for your eyes to tear up). Sophie has created her masterpiece.
Is this spider reminicent of the loveable Charlotte? Yes, most certainly. Nothing wrong with that.
Read more ›
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