I don’t read a lot of kid’s picture books, but this one has everything I look for in the genre. A sympathetic protagonist (or two), an unpredictable storyline, and a positive message. Which, when you get down to it, is exactly what I look for in an adult book. Plus it has really great illustrations.
It’s the largely autobiographical story of a five-legged spider and his close encounter with a slimy three eyed space alien (Stanley), who crash lands in his back yard. If that doesn’t sound autobiographical to you, you probably haven’t known Tom Serafini as long as I have. You’ll probably not be surprised that Ollie is able to help his new friend get home in time for dinner (almost, anyway). What you may not expect is that the story goes on for another eight pages after the main plot is resolved, because the best stories have more to them than plot.
Let’s talk about the art. Serafini combines inks and watercolors to create definition and character in the foreground while dazzling the eye with sumptuous washes of texture and color in the back. And there are those lovely art-only moments, like the way Stanley manages to deploy two pairs of welder’s goggles between his three eyes, and the casual way the goggles show up again at the very end. Or the comings and goings of the ambulatory flowers.
And I don’t want to forget to mention my favorite character, Ralph the Tree, even though there’s no good place to do it. Hi, Ralph, I hope your head feels better.