Sunday, October 28, 2012

Be Nice to Spiders

I have to admit, most of the vintage books I purchase never make it into the shop. They are intercepted by my daughter who adopts them as her own. One of these books we have been enjoying recently is Be Nice to Spiders by Margaret Bloy Graham. You may recognize her name from the Harry the Dirty Dog series (here) which she collaborated on with her then husband Gene Zion. She also wrote and illustrated the Benjy series (see here and here).

Be Nice to Spiders, first published in 1967, is about a Spider named Helen. When little Billy has to move to a new apartment that doesn't allow pets, Helen is left to the care of the zookeeper of the Zoological Gardens. She moves from cage to cage building webs and relieving the animals from the pesky flies. "All the animals were happy and contented. As for Helen, she was happy and contented too. It was a spider's paradise."

That is until the day the mayor of the city comes for a visit. The zookeeper instructs workers to clear all the messy looking webs from the animal cages. Helen hides in the camel house after narrowly escaping a worker's broom. She stays put, too scared to venture out to another cage. Days later she emerges and builds another web, catching all the flies bothering the camels. Lucky for the camels, but not for the other animals who had to deal with the returning flies.

The zookeeper cannot understand why the animals are so miserable, when just days before they were happy and contented. The only animals that seem to be happy are the camels. Upon closer observation, they discover Helen in the corner of the cage and come to the realization that "Spiders are useful." 

They share this "great discovery" with the groundskeepers and make a new rule: "Be Nice to Spiders. Soon the zoo once again became famous for its happy, healthy animals and Helen was treated like a queen." 

Our copy of this book may never make it to Etsy, but lucky for you you can find one here and here. Happy reading friends!


  1. Thank you so much for including my copy of Be Nice to Spiders. I'll admit that the copy for sale in my shop is a duplicate. My 4 year old daughter pre-empted the first one and it was spirited away to her ever growing personal book stash. What can I say, like mother, like daughter: incorrigible hoarding bookworms, the both of us:)

    Please feel free to visit my shop and see what new literary best friends are waiting to meet you:

  2. Our copy never made it to Etsy either...this is such a great book and a great reminder for this spider hating mama to be NICE when she finds a spider in her house (if possible). This is a great write up of this book, I look forward to more posts like these!

    1. Haha! I can't count the number of spiders I've had to rescue and release since we've read this book.

  3. Spiders are gentle animals but the majority of people do not respect them. This book is important.


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