THE SPIDER AND THE FLY

Mary Botham Howitt, Author, Tony DiTerlizzi, Illustrator, Tony DiTerlizzi, Author , illus. by Tony DiTerlizzi. S&S $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-689-85289-3

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, à 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. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 07/01/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
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