Like a lot of people, I ordered this directly from Amazon, figuring it'd be a regular sized book, or at the very least, about the same size as the board book version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Usually Amazon will say in the item title what version the book is, like board book, hardcover, etc. Seeing as how The Very Busy Spider here was the same price as the board book of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I figured it'd be a board book too. Nope! Granted, the product details do tell you the measurements of the book, but shouldn't they have the decency to say this is a miniature book in the title too? Heck, why order this when you can get the paperback version for the same price through Amazon's Used & New?
Either way, this is a fairly cute book, though I don't think it's anywhere near as memorable as Eric Carle's other books like the Caterpillar, Cricket, Ladybug and Firefly books. It's about a [very busy] spider who lands on the scene one day, and just starts to spin its web. Many other animals come over and invite the spider to come with them and have fun, but the spider doesn't reply- it's too busy spinning its web. Finally a rooster asks the spider if it wants to come and chase flies, and by this point, the web's done. The spider doesn't need to reply to the rooster, because after it asks, a fly lands in the web. Story over.
There's no real message or moral here that I can figure out, not that it's necessary in order to enjoy the story or anything, but where The Grouchy Ladybug is about bullying and being put in your place, all The Very Busy Spider is is a spider ignoring offers by other animals because it wants to complete its web. Yeah, there could be the message of how important it is to stay focused and finish the job, but I'm sure there are a lot of parents out there who'd whine about the spider having bad manners or something. The art style is done in the standard Carle fashion, always a treat, and the spider's web is done in a special way on the paper so that it's risen from the page a bit and 'bumpy'.
I give the book on its own 3.5 stars, but this dinky version: a tiny hardcover book with regular paper pages, not being billed as that in the title and throwing off many people, reduces the score a bit. Sure it could be a good choice to take on trips, but most kids will enjoy the illustrations better if the pages are bigger. Unless your child specifies that they want THIS version, go with the old paperback or hardcovers instead.