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
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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 pice de rsistance, 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.
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