Spiders: Worldwide Webs

First Second. (Science Comics). Jun. 2021. 128p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250222848; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781250222831.
Gr 5-8–Introduced by an arachnologist who claims that “in most habitats, you are always within three feet of a spider,” this overview spins out a dizzying array of spider species in brightly colored close-up portraits to go with thorough examinations of the pervasive clan’s habits, life cycles, and anatomy. In the frame story Tepi, an American house spider clad in a lab coat, shrinks Charlotte, who is white, and her little brother Peter, who is brown-skinned, down with a shrink ray and leads the wide-eyed duo into a worldwide series of (mostly) friendly encounters with arachnids ranging from an ant-sized Gamasomorpha to the aptly named Goliath birdeater. All the while, Tepi expounds on everything from spider taxonomy and hunting strategies to types of webs, the chemical compositions of various types of silks, and the significant place spiders occupy in the larger ecological picture. Displaying a gift for fitting a lot of text into cartoon panels without making them look crowded, Howard illustrates the tour with a mix of comical reaction shots to go with the aforementioned plethora of specimens seen either in natural settings or full-spread galleries. Readers will learn about a host of spiders, from chelicerae to cribellum, and will come away understanding that they are (mostly) less dangerous than commonly supposed and more wonderful.
VERDICT An artful blend of general facts and myth-busting; ideal for collections seeking to bolster STEM collections and convince readers to give spiders a chance.

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