When the Itsy Bitsy Spider Isn’t

She wants to sing her new song. My soon-to-be-2 granddaughter stands in our living room and twists her toddler fingers into climby-spider shapes.

So I’m happy to find a colorful board book about the critter in our local KMart. I glance through it quickly, like the creative illustrations, and bring it home.  As it happens, Natalia is spending the night with us. I show her the book, anticipating a happy smile.

A slight frown. A wary look. “Do you want me to read it to you?” I ask before bedtime. “No.”

Later, she awakens out of a sound sleep sobbing,”No itsy bitsy spider!”

As you can imagine, the book quickly disappears from her library, consigned to a spot high on top of the bookshelf. I decide, in a fit of pique, to write a snarky post about spiders in general, and this one in particular. It does seem like an odd thing to tell a child. “This spider, sweetheart, is certifiably insane. He keeps doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.” Plus, I was pathologically afraid of spiders as a child. I’m not exactly wild about them as an adult, but I don’t have the same reaction as a friend who called in hysterics one evening from atop her dining room table after a mouse ran across the room.

My research on arachnids begins with our trusty 1994 World Book Encyclopedia. Spiders. Oh my. The illustrations are detailed (“graphic” comes to mind), including closeups of spider faces! There are 30,000 known kinds, very few can actually harm people, and spiders are “helpful to people because they eat harmful insects.” Well, don’t I feel better.

Fact is, bug spray is way more effective and a lot less ugly.

I set World Book and its creepy pictures aside and pick up Natalia’s reject. The first 2 pages are the lines you and I know: the waterspout, the rain, the sun. But, turn the page, and surprise! We have a reason for Itsy’s efforts: he has spun his web high on the rooftop – for a better view – and is simply trying to get home. He dons goggles in a second attempt. He shields himself with an umbrella, bounces on a trampoline, detours across a clothesline. He’s blown into a tree with beady-eyed, and possibly angry, birds.

Is he discouraged? NO! He’s clever! He’s resourceful! He’s tenacious! He’s the Ginger of Spider World!

The author, Kate Toms, is a Christian writer living in England and has a wonderful line of children’s books. Here is the moral she chooses for this story: Don’t wear a frown – even when the rain comes down! I’m going to add Winston Churchill’s famous line, which appears on a plaque in my office: Never, ever, ever give up!  So, perhaps Natalia and I will have another go at Itsy in the future.

He has, as it turns out, a great deal of determination and a great attitude.

Nothing itsy-bitsy about that.

Getting home is the ultimate goal. Are you determined to live a life that gets you there?


4 responses to this post.

  1. I found this very interesting .I’d never thought about it like you so very dearly discribed it ,And i’ve read this many times ,You share a whole new lite on this childrens book .Perhaps my granchildren felt this as well and why I havent read it in awhile ..Maybe i’ll try it with a different approach when reading it to my youngest grandson .Thank you so much for seeing this is a book of determination and not giving up instead of a itsy bitsty spider.


    • Posted by Debra on March 26, 2012 at 10:04 pm

      Glad this post encouraged you in reading to your grandchildren, Marcella. It is one of life’s great pleasures!


  2. Posted by Erin on March 23, 2012 at 9:52 am

    I love this blog, Debra. Thanks for the smile this morning:)


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