Title: Sophie's Masterpiece: A Spider's Tale
Author: Eileen Spinelli
Illustrator: Jane Dyer
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Sophie's Masterpiece: A Spider's Talewas one of those rare but happy accidental finds. My friend Anna's 2nd daughter, Z, was turning 1, and I was visiting for her birthday. I spent a good hour sitting in Border's looking at the shelves of picture books, looking for the perfect pick for Z.
I found Sophie's Masterpiece and instantly fell in love with it. Spinelli tells the story of a little spider who isn't wanted, even though she's just trying to provide for herself. She gradually climbs to the top floor of a tenement, where, exhausted, she settles in the knitting basket of a poor young woman expecting a baby. Rather than chase or try to kill Sophie, the young woman lets her stay, and Sophie, in gratitude knits a beautiful baby blanket out of silk and moonlight.
The illustrations, by Jane Dyer, are graceful and simple, and captivated Z and her sister, both. Though the publisher recommends this book for ages 4 and up, I found that 2 and 3 year olds love hearing the story of this sweet and generous spider.