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The Spider and the Fly Hardcover – October 1, 2002

4.7 out of 5 stars 131 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Howitt's 1829 cautionary poem of a fly's risky entanglement with her perfidious predator springs to cinematic life amid silver-sheened black-and-white illustrations by an artist well known for his work on the Magic: The Gathering trading cards. Gouache images that seem to glow in the dark deftly recall the silent film era, craftily luring in readers even before the tale's famous opener, " `Will you walk into my parlor?' said the Spider to the Fly." An exterior view of a darkened mansion, its sole light coming from an attic window, gives way to a close-up of the same window as a petite dragonfly in flapper attire (complete with fringed dress, long gloves and flower-petal parasol) peers inside at Spider's lair: a Victorian dollhouse set amid cobwebby attic treasures. With an arsenal of Vincent Price expressions, the well-heeled Spider uses food and flattery to entice his guest into staying within his walls. Some of the text appears periodically against a framed black backdrop, … la silent movie captions, while a silvery web is progressively woven in the background. Finely detailed scenes foreshadow Fly's demise with subtle, Charles Addams-esque humor that, while it may escape younger readers, will tickle the Lemony Snicket set. (In one scene, previous insect victims, now ghosts with their feet hovering above the floor, hold up a copy of The Joy of Cooking Bugs, in a vain warning to Fly.) DiTerlizzi has spun a visual treat that young sophisticates and adults alike will enjoy. Ages 6-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-6-Most people are familiar with Howitt's poem, but DiTerlizzi's art raises this hackneyed classic to a new level. Rendered in black-and-white gouache and pencil, then reproduced in silver-and-black duotone, the paintings have a spooky quality perfectly suited to retelling this melancholy tale. Ms. Fly, with her whimsical flower umbrella and Roaring '20s attire, captures the flavor of an old-time Hollywood heroine. Her nemesis, seated on his Victorian chair, is dressed like a pasha in silk robe and slippers (six, of course) or resplendent in tails, top hat, and spats; he is clearly a dastardly fiend cloaked in splendid apparel to dazzle his victim. Wispy, transparent, ghostly shapes haunt the eerie mansion; the white print on the black pages stands out against the shadows creeping across each spread. All of these elements foreshadow the fly's untimely demise. With its tragic ending, heavy moralizing, and sophisticated artwork, this book will appeal to older children as well as to adult fans of old horror movies. This title is worth purchasing for its valuable artwork alone.
Laurie Edwards, West Shore School District, Camp Hill, PA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Repackage ed. edition (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689852894
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689852893
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Some picture books instantly impress. They have that extra little spark or oomph that sets them apart from the rest. At first, the idea of a modern illustrator reworking a cautionary tale from 1829 sounds as if it's in danger of becoming dull, preachy, or didactic. Then you take a single glance at Tony DiTerlizzi's reworking of Mary Howitt's poem, "The Spider and the Fly", and you're blown away. Referencing the silent films of the 1920s and 30s, the book is meant to guide youngsters on the path of wisdom. Presumably by showing the stupidity of flies.

We all know the great opening lines of this tale. " `Will you walk into my parlor?' said the Spider to the Fly". Here we see our villain, the gorgeously outfitted spider, bowing deeply to a lovely lady fly that bears no little resemblance to Shelly Duvall. The spider himself is replete with walking cane, spats on each of his legs, slick dandified hair, a Rhett Butler moustache, and a long top hat. The fly's initial answer (a negative) shows her in her best flapper wear. She has the parasol, the delicately gloved arms, the handbag, bobbed antennae, and flapper hat. The spider is persistent, now donning a smoking jacket and fez as various buggy ghosts of his past victims attempt to warn the little fly away. Finally, after many attempts, the spider flatters the fly with tales of her beauty. She falls for it instantly and returns when the spider calls, "Your robes are green and purple - there's a crest upon your head; Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead". She comes, he pops her in his long hat, and the next thing we know she's tied up tight in a cocoon with the shadow of a spider (cook's hat on head, knife and fork in hand) laughingly approach her.
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Format: Hardcover
"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the Spider to the Fly... So begins Mary Howitt's 1829, cautionary timeless classic. But this age-old masterpiece has been elevated to new heights by the stunning, black and white, "silent screen" artwork of Tony DiTerlizzi. Mr DiTerlizzi has created a clever and captivating feast for the eyes, and filled his illustrations with spooky humor and wit, intricate, eye-catching details, marvelous facial expressions, and pure magic. Young and old alike will be entranced as they linger and explore each page, finding something new and enticing each and every time they open the book. Perfect for "youngsters" of all ages, The Spider And The Fly begs to be read aloud and shared with friends and family now, and future generations in the years to come. "And now, dear little children, who may this story read,/To idle, silly, flattering words I pray you ne'er give heed:/Unto an evil counselor,/close heart and ear and eye,/And take a lesson from this tale,/of the Spider and the Fly."
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Format: Hardcover
Ok, for one and all the illustrations are luscious and timely. The story, the reading out loud is second to none! My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the spook factor had us waiting to read it to one and all! A definite must have for the family library!
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Format: Hardcover
The main reason why I like this story is the Illustrations by Tony Di'Terlizzi. They are what attracted me to this book. It is a classic story of The Spider and The Fly. The spider is able to lure the fly into his "parlor" by flattering her. She eats up his kind words and gets tricked into going with him. The common meaning to this story is to not eat up all the kind words people tell you, it may not be what they are really thinking.
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Format: Hardcover
Eye candy with substance! I give it three hundred and nine stars!
Luckily for me this book stood out and caught the corner of my eye in time for Christmas. I immediately bought a copy for myself just from the illustrations on the dust jacket. I wish I had stayed put and read through the book. Then I would have bought at least 3 more as gifts. While I am here on Amazon I am buying more copies for my artisty/illustrating/children's stories writing friends, I thought I owe it it Tony Diterlizzi to write a review.
I am not very good at writing reviews anymore, and the more I adore something the more tongue-tied (or finger twisted) I get, please bear with me. I'm not a role-player or comic book collector I just came across this artist by chance or maybe a twist of fate.
This book is so gorgeous. It is my introduction to the art of Tony Diterlizzi and I am so glad to have found it. As an aspiring illustrator myself who's lost motivation I have now found inspiration again.
The Spider and the Fly is a terrific story with a lesson that all children need to learn: not to go off with strangers no matter how charming and wonderful they seem. The story is wonderful however only a mere compliment to the dark, delicate, dreamy and deliciously detailed illustrations. (But not bed-wetting scary; the book comes across as dark but still cheery).
Any collector of Chaz Addams, Edward Gorey, The art of Tim Burton etc will instantly fall in love with these illustrations. And it's great to find a gothy book suitable for children. A more refined alternative to Angus Oblong (who I also adore)! Ms. Fly will remind you of that one gothy girl so luminous and so delicate you had to love from afar believing her to be too delicate to touch.
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