The Spider and the Fly
Based on the poem by Mary Howitt
Illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
Mary Howitt was a famous English Poetess who associated and worked with many of histories finest authors such as Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Browning and even Hans Christian Anderson. For most of her career, Howitt translated works for other authors but she did manage to publish books and poems. In this work, The Spider and the Fly, Howitt allows some of her own experiences with death influence the tone of the poem but does so in a manner that is devilishly amusing and witty.
The poem concerns a very eloquent spider trying to entire a beautiful fly into his manor. The artwork is very detailed and in a simple black and white scheme. The story itself is very straightforward and the rhyming pattern is very catchy which lends itself well to reading aloud. The conflict is between the Spider and the Fly but has a deeper understanding and moral that an adult will understand and appreciate. The moral of the tale is that not everyone who flatters and acts friendly really is. Sometimes the very worst things in life lurk beneath pretty, flowery words.
Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on whose side of the story a reader takes, the main character is a spider out to catch his next meal. Does he succeed? Just ask the little Fly’s ghost at the end.
The characters and the subtle visual clues allow adults to get a chuckle and the meaning behind the tale gives parents and teacher the opportunity to discuss important issues such as trust and safety. Even harder to discuss issues concerning life and death can be explained with the example of spiders catching flies. Taking something that is familiar to a child, such as a dollhouse and a spider can make the understanding of the moral easier to digest. The Spider even goes a step further and justifies his appetite by comparing himself to that famous spider herself…Charlotte.