Why does Spider have a thin waist and a baldhead? Why does he live in dark corners? Author Joyce Cooper Arkhurst explains the answers to these questions and more in her humorous tales about the naughty West African character, Spider. He is like a mischievous little boy, so everyone loves the clever Spider. He plays tricks and gets into a lot of trouble, but he is also full of fun. In each of the six tales about Spider, readers learn a little bit more about who he is and how he came to be. In the tradition of great storytelling, Arkhurst speaks directly to the readers, and her prose is often full of a gentle whimsy.
In the first tale, "How Spider Got a Thin Waist," Spider is first described as being a very big person. When greedy Spider gets the idea to attend feasts in two separate villages, his clever plan gets him only a tightly pulled rope around his waist and no dinner at all! The rope makes Spider's waist become thinner and thinner, and as a reminder of his avarice, Spider never regains his original shape. Spider is often greedy in the other tales, but at the bottom of his heart, he desires to be good and kind. Unfortunately, his large appetite often gets in the way, no matter how hard he tries to make things turn out right.
Young readers will enjoy Spider's slightly naughty nature, as well as the vindication they feel when Spider gets his comeuppance. Use these sweetly comic tales as an introduction to oral storytelling as you invite readers to retell the stories of Spider in their own words.