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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

8 legs, hairy & spooky – RUN!

Confession time: I didn’t want to write this post. Don’t misunderstand, the books are great. You should have the entire series and plan to keep replacing them when they get worn out repeatedly.  It’s just that … I’m scared of the two books in front of me. I kept giving the books to others to read and I watched – from a SAFE distance – to see whether the book actually bit them or not. In the words of Carmen Agra Deedy "It could happen." I’m not joking. The photos are that fantabulous!  

Something must have happened to the elementary children who read these because everyone, even my #4 sixteen-year-old son read every word, every caption, and even the glossary without uttering a sound. Was he/they hypnotized, poisoned, or spellbound? After #4 son finished one, he silently reached for the other and began the same hypnotic reading. What captured him so? Why did every child who read one immediately seize the other?

Hairy Tarantualas and Spooky Wolf Spiders are two books from the Bearport No Backbone! series. Something happens to everyone who read these books. They are mesmerized. They read intently. They ignore all other stimuli. When they finish reading, they ponder what they’ve read. Then they try to be nonchalant. 

"Hey, you! I need good details for this blog," I demanded. When I pressed them for reactions, they admitted that the books have merit and will probably be read everyday. When I tried to goad my middle schoolders into reacting more strongly and suggest that I just give them to an elementary school, they immediately leaped to the books’ defense.  Middle schoolers need these books, too, they insisted. "Aren’t there more in the series?" they asked. "You should go get those, too. We’ll check out the students at your desk while you go order them."

Since everyone was too busy to write my review for me, I’m now forced to touch these books. What if the book really does bite me? You can laugh, but I’m looking at the cover of Spooky Wolf Spiders and trying to find a way to hold the books so my hand doesn’t touch the spooky spider. 

Blame my parents. For my 9th birthday, they dropped my 7 year old brother and me off at a movie theatre to go to our first movie without our parents. What was playing? The GIANT SPIDER INVASION. I ‘ve never been the same since. 

When I see spiders, I feel the need to scream deeply (using my diaphragm and every bit of voice training) to alert every possible person in the county that there is a scary thing here. Then I feel this need to run as fast as I can, through people, closed doors, over furniture, out windows, AWAY! If I’m trapped with one, I begin mentally building a superweapon to fall from the sky and repeatedly pulverize every cell until the only thing left is protons, neutrons, electrons, naw – just quarks. If it so much as twitches, I want the biggest flame-thrower on the planet so I can try to change it’s mind. 

And if you try to touch a spider and bring it closer to me, well, let’s say I won’t be responsible for the carnage. I refuse to be part of the spider identifying team that tells everyone whether it was a poisonous brown recluse hiding in your shoe box in the closet, or even a black widow spider waiting to spring from the garden rocks. Men, women, and students who destroy or relocate spiders are my heroes. Just keep it far from me, don’t bother to show me the remains, and forget about any scary stories – my imagination is far worse. 

Okay, I’ve stalled as long as I can. I have to go touch the books. Thank goodness you can’t see my face. I hope it doesn’t freeze in this position. While I’m gone reading, you can just look at these photos of spiders from the web and try to empathize with my fears.

Okay, I’m back and I’m alive. I found a great way to read these two very realistic informative books. I opened the first one on my desk gingerly and tried to read. I must have been making some particularly bizarre faces because several boys were intrigued and wanted to know what lovely gross thing I was looking at. They promptly took the book from me and let me read over their shoulders. 

Soon a huge crowd had gathered. They loved these books. When they realized I was really scared, they giggled. I decided to test my theory and asked them to survey every student in the room (about 77) and count how many boys vs. how many girls were willing to read these books. They reported back that 4 girls said they would, every boy said they’d read the whole series. 

Fortunately their female teacher came over and joined our conversation. She examined the books and OOood and Ahhhd. Then she started sharing stories about the "lovely" spiders in her yard. She defended these arachnids ably and chided me for my fears. Then she told me I simply needed to relocate the spiders when they invaded my space.  I said, "I do. I relocate them to spider heaven." For the benefit of spiders everywhere she did an impromptu lesson on the good aspects of spiders. "They eat insects," she said. "Bats eat more," I insisted. "Go write your review," she said. 

Spooky Wolf Spiders lives up to its name. I warn you that you will need to buy some book cleaner. Every student who viewed this book with me touch-counted every one of  their 8 eyes. The students studied the illustrations and chased girls with the books taunting them with spider facts. When they shared the information that the 100 baby wolf spiderlings crawl onto the back of their mother after birth, I could barely stand to look at the picture. Yes, it does show those spiderlings. If it weren’t for the absolutely perfect illustrations that reveal such detail, I could enjoy just the words and the new facts I learned. 

On to Hairy Tarantulas… this book wasn’t quite as intimidating to me to view, but when I read about tarantula defense mechanisms, that they can have 500-1000 eggs in a sac, and that the females can live up to 20 years. Well, I’d had enough spider facts for the day. You won’t believe this but a group of girls clustered behind my back to read over my shoulder. When they saw the illustration of a tarantula’s old exoskeleton after molting, they ripped the books out of my hands and ran over to the teacher to ask if she’d ever seen one.

Wouldn’t you know she would just happen to have an exoskeleton at her house and would promise to bring it to school the next day? I think I’m getting feverish. Perhaps I should stay home in case I get bit, I mean in case I’m contagious. 

For all of you readers who stayed with me to the end of this long spun post, I believe No Backbone! The World of Invertebrates has gotten even better with the addition of the spiders to the mix than when I blogged last year. Go forth and purchase. Just don’t send my any spider memorabilia.