"Bruce and the Long Spider" is a wonderfully illustrated children's picture book about a little boy who has a room all to himself until the day he stumbles upon a scary spider! Find out what happens when Bruce decides "It's time to be BRAVE" in this exciting kid's adventure packed full of imagination and fun.
Though the narrative of this enthusiastic tale moves at a quick pace, not much actually happens. Martin’s cyclical storyline—Bruce comes up with a persona he can inhabit to scare away the spider; he dresses up for the part and imagines the spider in costume as well; then he moves on to his next inspiration—quickly becomes predictable. The spider is characterized as an enemy, but with only one scene where it and Bruce actually make eye contact, there’s not a great deal at stake. The abrupt ending sets the stage for a rematch, but also solidifies the feeling that something is missing, as Bruce has neither triumphed, failed, nor learned to live with a spider in his room.
The book’s strength lies in the quirkiness of its main character. Bruce possesses traits that all kids will identify with: creativity, imagination, playfulness, and a willingness to transform fear into an opportunity to be the hero. Though his ingenuity is the main draw, Bruce’s decisive metamorphosis into a crusader (“No. It’s time to be BRAVE”) is endearing. Whether young ones are afraid of spiders or just like imagination-fueled adventures featuring them as the main character, they are sure to find some laughs in this spider-scaring escapade.
Takeaway: Creative readers will enjoy this playful journey of a young boy facing down his fears.
Great for fans of: Julie Fogliano’s A House That Once Was, Sara O’Leary’s This is Sadie.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A-