Title: The Spider and the Fly

Author: Tony DiTerlizzi and Mary Howitt

Publication Date: 2002

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Price: $16.99

Number of Pages: 40

Awards: Caldecott Honor

Genre/Subgenre: Poetry, picture books


Popularity: 4/5

Quality: 5/5

Reader’s Annotation:

Mary Howitt’s “The Spider and the Fly” meets 1920’s and 1930’s Hollywood horror.


Using Mary Howitt’s cautionary poem, “The Spider and the Fly,” illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi brings a new take to the tale using 1920’s and 1930’s horror-inspired illustrations. “The Spider and the Fly” is the tale of a fly who is wooed and flattered by a spider into coming into his home, dining with him, sleeping in his bed, and eventually returning to his home to be eaten. The spider tells the fly how beautiful she is, and the tale ends by cautioning against vanity and flattery.


This is such a fun, creepy read! The 1920’s and 1930’s horror film-style illustrations are fantastic and bring a wonderful new element to the poem. They really work perfectly with the original poem. This book also brings up really important issues like vanity and how it can lead people (and flies!) astray. I think children, especially slightly older ones, will really enjoy this book.

Why I Chose the Book:

I love poetry and I was very intrigued by the style Tony DiTerlizzi used to illustrate this book.


Sophie’s Masterpiece by Eileen Spinelli

The Book that Eats People by John Perry

I Wish I Were a Butterfly by James Howe

Book Talk Ideas

Have students or patrons write a new ending to the story in which the fly doesn’t fall for the spider’s flattery. Ask them how the character of the fly would be need to be different to see through the spider.

Discussion Questions

1. What is the moral of the story? How is this shown throughout the book?

2. What are some of the clues that we get from the illustrations that the spider intends to harm the fly?


DiTerlizzi, T. & Howitt, M. (2002). The Spider and the Fly. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers: New York.

Goodreads (2014). The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt. Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/601598.Spider_and_the_Fly?from_search=true

“The Spider and the Fly.” NoveList K-8. EBSCO, 20 Dec. 2002. Web. 3 May 2014. <http://0-search.ebscohost.com.catalog.sjlibrary.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=njh&tg=UI&an=118534&site=novpk8-live&gt;.