The Web

tr. from French. illus. by Isabelle Simler. 40p. Peter Pauper. Oct. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781441328434.
PreS-Gr 3—Asking readers to look closely, Simler demonstrates the connectedness of all things in the natural world through the activities of a collector. This album offers gorgeous, precise, and sometimes labeled images of leaves, catkins, seeds and nuts, and many insects collectively called "bugs." There are flowers, butterflies and moths, twigs, thorns, flying insects, feathers, pebbles and a web containing an eight-eyed "skillful, watchful artist…/…weaving a delicate masterpiece." As she did in Plume, the author/illustrator invites readers to search each page for parts of the spider. A final pair of spreads shows the spider's collection and the corresponding natural world scene. First published in France in 2013, this translation lacks the laser-cut next-to-last page of the original, which drew more attention to what the spider was doing. The translation, too, is sometimes surprisingly loose: for example, instead of an insect's name, the phrase "even more bugs" for a page showing an (unidentified in English) cicada opposite one showing a variety of (identified) insects. These changes may lessen the impact but the whole effect is an extraordinary appreciation of attention to small things in one's world. The fine-lined, digitally created images are set off from the plain white background by unobtrusive shadows. After the detail of each image, the abstraction of the landscape is particularly intriguing.
VERDICT For preschool and early elementary school children, this is a glorious invitation to observe the natural world. A fine choice.

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