By Kathryn Lasky, Photographs by Christopher G. Knight
Candlewick Press, 2011
Reviewer checked out book from public library.
Spiders get a bad rap in the animal world; they’re often seen as dangerous and scary. Silk & Venom: Searching for a Dangerous Spider helps remove the stigma associated with arachnids. The book follows scientist, Greta Binford, on her quest to locate the Loxosceles spider in the Dominican Republic. By discovering the species on the island of Hispaniola, Binford hopes to prove her theory that spiders crossed a land bridge million of years ago. Lasky describes in great detail how spiders utilize their webs and venom to capture and digest their prey as well as the importance of spiders to our world.
“The ability to adapt to a wide variety of habitats. A tool kit filled with an array of silks. Venomous fangs. Sensitive, hairy legs. Put it all together, and you’ve go a survivor: the spider” (p.12).
Binford’s love of spiders is apparent throughout the story as she enlists the help of Dominican villagers in her search for the elusive Loxosceles; she ventures into caves, dense forests, abandoned buildings and piles of rubbish. Young readers, especially fans of Nic Bishop’s Spiders, will be drawn to the close-up photographs of different species of spiders, however the text may be a bit advanced for readers below grade five. Silk & Venom would make an ideal nonfiction read aloud for upper elementary or middle school classrooms. Readers will take away a better understanding of how scientists apply the scientific method in the real world, and hopefully Silk and Venom will help spiders gain some respect too! A glossary of spiders accompanied by photographs is included at the end of the book.
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