Title: The Spider and the Fly
Author: Mary Howitt
Classification: ballad with a moral
Themes: trust, stranger danger, social awareness
What’s it about?
This is a ballad was written in 1829 about Fly. She is a pretty and naïve creature who at first stays well away from Spider as she has heard all the terrible stories about him. Spider however is clever and begins to flatter her – complimenting her pretty wings and so forth – until the Fly dines with the Spider. The ending…it is up to you to read to find out.
The ballad is very well written and is easily read in rhythm. I like the use of personification to tell the story about what can be a tricky topic as it is less confronting with a spider and fly than if it was about people. I love the simply of the illustrations and the use of black and white. It is overall very effective and adds a hint of deception and danger to the words. What else is good is that there are some activities based on the illustrations available on Tony DiTerlizzi’s website.
While most students I have read this to have enjoyed it, I have had the odd one who became teary and didn’t want to hear the rest of the story.
There are not many stories that could still be relevant nearly 200 years after they were written. This is a book that can be integrated into any stranger danger (Child Protection Unit / CPC) due to the focus on not trusting strangers – especially when they don’t know you and give you lots of compliments.