Name of Book: Miss Spider’s Tea Party
Author: David Kirk
Illustrator: David Kirk
Audience: Written for ages 4 – 6
Summary: A charming but very lonely spider wishes to invite her neighbor insects to tea. All that she invites are fearful, dash off, scurry away, etc. It isn’t until Miss Spider is able to render aid to one small soaked moth that she at last has a guest for tea. Miss Spider dries off the poor helpless creature and invites it to tea. Her kindness convinces the neighbor insects they have nothing to fear from this very large and very friendly spider.
Literary elements at work in the story: This is a charming rhyming story that is used primarily as a counting book. The bright colors and illustrations lend to an enchanting read. Miss Spider is bright yellow, like a rain slicker. Each insect in the story is an individual with equally bright eye popping color.
(How) does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? Some children and some very cynical adults may find this story completely incredulous; How could a spider be portrayed in such a kind way? The point of the story is overcoming stereotypes that inhibit friendship. In this example, the fears of the other insects are very reasonable. It is only by accident that the moth, and then the others, learn of Miss Spider’s generosity and kindness.
Theological conversation partners: Miss Spider’s Tea Party would pair well with the Parable of the Wedding banquet found in Matthew 22. The insects are afraid of Miss Spider and do not want to attend her tea party. Their fears are reasonable. Their inability to accept her invitation initially excludes them from Miss Spider’s gentleness. The comparison between the king (God) in the parable to Miss Spider might seem tenuous. The king’s repeated invitations are refused just as Miss Spider’s. The parable refers to how the reign of God had been refused by the Israelites, and how they would beat and reject the servants of God (the prophets). Another comparison that may seem weak or tenuous is the wet moth in contrast to the final group of people invited to the wedding banquet. The poor little wet moth does accept Miss Spider’s kindness and can be an example of Jesus’ final zinger, “Many are called but few are chosen.’
I know the Miss Spider story doesn’t work on every level, but, there are elements that really fit the Parable of the Wedding beautifully.
Faith Talk Questions:
- How would you feel if you were going to have a big party, you invited all of your friends, and everyone had an excuse about not coming to your party?
- What do you think the little wet moth felt when it was brought into Miss Spider’s home?
- When Miss Spider took such good care of the little wet moth, what do you suppose it felt? Relief? Gratitude?
- If you were the little wet moth, would you go tell all of your friends and neighbors about Miss Spider’s kindness? Extend that to telling yours friends and neighbors about God.
This review was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Cheryl Couch-Thomas.