“Sammy Spider’s New Friend” is a sweetly spun tale


By now, young fans of the Sammy Spider series are well acquainted with the formula that makes these warm, sweetly spun tales so endearing. Whether discovering the true meaning of the Jewish holidays or, as in his latest adventure, observing the Shapiro family bake a cake to welcome their new neighbors from Israel, Sammy, the overly ambitious arachnid, never quite grasps his limitations. “Can we bake a cake, too?” Sammy asks his mother. When the story is read aloud, children will gleefully anticipate his mother’s gentle rebuke, “Silly little Sammy. Spiders don’t bake cakes. Spiders spin webs.” And spin he does. When Sammy finds the new neighbor boy in tears, he presents him with the gift of a newly created web. Later, Sammy observes the families sharing a meal and becoming fast friends. Colorfully illustrated with Kahn’s familiar collages, the book presents young readers with a simply told lesson about the mitzvah of hospitality. The Hebrew words shalom (hello, good-bye, peace), haver (friend), and akavish (spider) are woven into the story. The book also includes a recipe for hummus.

Reviewed by Allison Marks, Temple Israel Library, Akron, OH, from the Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews, November-December 2012