From School Library Journal
Grade 5-7. Bobby loves spiders and keeps a journal in which he records interesting facts about them, as well as some personal reflections. He is worried about his pet tarantula because she hasn't eaten since the family moved from Illinois to New Paltz, NY. The boy doesn't have much of an appetite himself. He doesn't fit in with the rest of the seventh graders at his new school. A group of his classmates call him "Spider Boy" and make his life difficult. The use of spiders in Bobby's journal and in the plot is a unique unifying theme of this novel. However, the character development is less successful. It takes awhile for readers to care about Bobby. The supporting characters are stereotypes (bully, understanding teacher, confident older sister). The story moves slowly and is limited in intensity until a final crisis. The resolution is predictable but upbeat. Bobby finds a niche for his unique interests, new friends with whom to play football, and even a little romance.?Adele Greenlee, Bethel College, St. Paul, MN
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 5-8. Bobby Ballenger, a walking encyclopedia on spider lore, is quickly dubbed the "Spider Boy from Illinois" by his new seventh-grade classmates. With his watch and his heart still set on Midwest time, Bobby struggles with homesickness and finding his place in New Paltz, New York. Fletcher portrays the new-kid-on-the-block syndrome honestly by making Bobby a sympathetic but not perfect character who starts out spinning spider tales and ends up accepting his new life. Along the way, Bobby believably faces down the taunts, cheating, and cruelty of the class bully and finds his own sense of worth. Packed with juicy tidbits guaranteed to make arachnophobics squirm, this appealing story will be an easy sell to middle-school readers. Candace Smith