The Very Busy Spider

by Eric Carle


Eric Carle's The Very Busy Spider

Ages 0-4

Children's book review by Sarah Denslow


An industrious spider, but not all that polite!

Neither very hungry, nor a caterpillar, Eric Carle’s The Very Busy Spider is more like an Aesop’s Fable than an amusing story of a bug's lifecycle.

(Webmaster's note: think The Ant and the Grasshopper)

The premise is, of course, simple: a spider is very busy spinning her web. A number of animals ask if she would like to come and do some particular activity with them.

“Want to go for a ride?” asks the horse.

“Want to roll in the mud?” asks the pig.

The spider, however, doesn’t answer. She is very busy spinning her web.

At the end of the day, she has made her web, and when the rooster asks if she wants to catch a fly, she catches one in her web.

That night, an owl admires the beautiful web the spider has spun.

The Very Busy Spider is great at promoting the value of diligent work in order to complete a task and reap the rewards. The spider continuously works on her web, despite multiple invitations to play.

The book also introduces readers to various farm animals: horse, cow, sheep, etc. and the noises they make.

However, the spider does not exactly have impeccable manners. The spider could easily tell the farm animals that invite her to play, “No, thank you, I’m spinning my web.” However she completely ignores them. True, maybe the spider cannot talk, but since all the other farm animals can, there’s no reason arachnids should be excluded from talking in this book.

Apart from the poor manners, I like The Very Busy Spider. The pictures are done in Eric Carle’s typical understated but beautiful style, which I have always found very inviting, and the story has a nice rhythm to it, despite the curiously silent spider.

The Very Busy Spider is one of the top-selling kids' books ever.

Read more of Sarah's reviews.

Sarah referenced Eric Carle's classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

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