The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt


The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt

A classic cautionary tale with a unique twist. 'Will you walk into my parlour, said the Spider to the Fly...' is one of the most recognised and quoted first lines in all of English verse. But how many of you know how the tale actually ends? Join celebrated artist Tony DiTerlizzi as he shines a 1920's film noir cinematic spotlight on Mary Howitt's 173 year old classic poem, warning us against those who would use sweet words to hide their not-so-sweet intentions and lure us into danger.


This distinctive black and white picture book is an illustrated version of Mary Howitt's cautionary poem, first published in 1829. DiTerlizzi's adaptation is very obviously influenced by his love of Hollywood horror films from the silent movie era. The spider of the title is a suave charmer in a smoking jacket who employs all his cunning ways to attract the glamorous fly into his web. The fly, looking every inch the Hollywood starlet, resists the spider's advances until finally her vanity gets the better of her and she is trapped. This Gothic-looking picture book seems rather gloomy at first glance but the detail in the pictures soon draws you in. The pages are haunted by the rather comic ghosts of the spider's previous victims, trying to warn our heroine of her danger. The combination of the dark illustrations and the way in which the verse is broken down towards the end of the tale works to build the suspense wonderfully to a very scary climax. There is a fantastically frightening double-page spread towards the end that shows the looming shadow of the spider on the wall, knife and fork in hand, ready to pounce - truly scary stuff! DiTerlizzi's illustrations serve to turn an otherwise cautionary tale into a horror story. This is definitely an older children's picture book. The Victorian language of the poem may be challenging but being in verse makes it more accessible. This book certainly won't appeal to all tastes but it is a good idea which is very well executed. Not recommended for those of a timid disposition! Ages 5-7 (Kirkus UK)

About the Author

Mary Botham Howitt was born in 1799 in Coleford, England. Originally published in 1829, Mary's best-known work 'The Spider and the Fly' has been enjoyed by generations of readers and has become an age old classical cautionary tale. Mary Howitt died in Rome in 1888. Tony DiTerlizzi's unique and unusal artstyle is the perfect complement to Howitt's classic tale. He lives with his wife in Brooklyn, New York.

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Book Info


40 pages


Mary Howitt
More books by Mary Howitt


Publication date

7th October 2002



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