Stanley, a spider, is a weaver par excellence, and he is also a collector of beautiful things. After the wind drops him in the perfect place to start his weaving, he begins to collect – natural things like twigs, petals, and leaves and seeds of all kinds. But he also has an eye for the unusual. He doesn’t know what they are, but he finds a button, the ring from a tin, and something else I can’t quite identify from the picture. These he suspends from his web, and he is very pleased with his beautiful collection.
Sadly, the rain comes, and the accumulation is destroyed. He manages to save one heart-shaped leaf, and this he attaches to a new web, but the wind comes and blows this away too. Stanley is heartbroken, but he is also resilient, and after a night spent putting together a magnificent web with a design throughout of all the things that he has lost, he ‘catches a lift on the wind’ to pastures new, and we know he will continue as a great weaver and collector. The story is a parable of how to pick oneself up when things go wrong, and that while nothing is going to last forever, one can keep beauty in one’s heart where it will never fade. The illustrations are quite, quite lovely and delicate, but there is one problem. Children will probably need some adult supervision in getting the most out of the book. I had to read it several times before ‘twigging’ to the fact that Stanley’s magnificent web at the end was full of representations of all the things he had collected, and that the heart in the centre represents his heart in which his treasures lie. It’s a great philosophy, and after a first read when children will need help, it will prove a treasure indeed to the thoughtful child who will be absorbed by the pictures and the ideas presented.