Sophie's Masterpiece: A Spider's Tale


Sophie is an artist who wants to spin beautiful creations all day long and, someday, a masterpiece. As a spider, though, Sophie has a hard time finding a welcoming place in which she can be free to live and spin. She's shooed and shuffled all over Beekman's Boardinghouse until one day she finally finds the warm, comfortable, safe home for which she always yearned — and the inspiration for the masterpiece of her lifetime.

Sophie the spider makes wondrous webs, but ...

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Sophie is an artist who wants to spin beautiful creations all day long and, someday, a masterpiece. As a spider, though, Sophie has a hard time finding a welcoming place in which she can be free to live and spin. She's shooed and shuffled all over Beekman's Boardinghouse until one day she finally finds the warm, comfortable, safe home for which she always yearned — and the inspiration for the masterpiece of her lifetime.

Sophie the spider makes wondrous webs, but the residents of Beekman's Boarding House do not appreciate her until at last, old and tired, she weaves her final masterpiece.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A tender-hearted arachnid-shown here as a blond with a human face, two arms and six colorfully stockinged legs-weaves a work of art for a grateful mother-to-be. "Spinelli and Dyer's tale of devotion and generosity is as delicately woven as Sophie's own work," wrote PW. Ages 4-7. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Sophie, a spider with the heart of an artist, strikes off to find her place in the wide world. She ends up at Beekman's Boardinghouse, a shabby old house obviously in need of her talents. But her new parlor curtains are not appreciated; neither is her new suit of clothes for the gray old captain. In desperation Sophie climbs the stairs to the room of a destitute expecting mother. Sophie's age is beginning to tell on her, but she manages the strength for one final project—a lovely gift of herself that is finally accepted. Spinelli's tale is sweet and touching, and Dyer's delicate watercolors do more than just grace the words—they create a believable fairy tale heroine. 2001, Simon & Schuster, $16.00. Ages 4 to 7. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Even as a youngster, Sophie is identified as a master weaver. When it comes time for her to strike out on her own, she lands at a less than impressive boarding house. As she sees the run-down condition of her new abode, the young house spider sets out to make her world a better place. However, the plebeian landlady doesn't appreciate the newcomer's attempt at weaving a new set of curtains and shows no tolerance toward spiders in her house. Sophie proceeds to have a number of less than felicitous encounters with various boarders who similarly do not appreciate her handiwork. It is not until she is aged and weary that she enters the room of a young woman who isn't bothered by her presence. Curious, Sophie watches as she begins to knit baby booties and realizes that she is pregnant. Observing that the young woman appears friendless and quite poor, Sophie begins work upon her final masterpiece-a baby blanket. She completes her work and comes to the end of her life just as she hears the cry of the newborn infant. Expressive watercolors capture the quirky yet poignant spirit of this tale. The scenes of the aged Sophie and the new mother and child are particularly luminous. This endearing spider should rid even the most fearful individuals of their arachnophobia.-Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Child Magazine
A Child Magazine Best Book of 2001 Pick

Artistic Sophie is "no ordinary house spider." Alas, her talents for weaving are unappreciated at Beekman's Boardinghouse, until she befriends a penniless young woman whose newborn baby needs a blanket. With delicate watercolors to capture its beauty and poignancy, this tale is as deftly spun as one of Sophie's splendid creations.

Kirkus Reviews
The creators of When Mama Comes Home Tonight (1998) weave another affecting tale, in which a gentle, eight-legged artist spends her last strength on a gift to a newborn baby. Though Sophie's ingeniously patterned webs are the delight of her Mama and playmates, when she moves into a drab boarding house, its residents react to her presence with fear and disgust. Most of its residents, that is—weary and aging, Sophie finds a home and quiet welcome at last when she crawls into an expectant young mother's yarn basket. Sophie's webs, all finer than the finest lace, ripple with stars, flowers, and geometric patterns in Dyer's delicately detailed watercolors. She herself cuts a stylish bohemian figure, with long, slender legs in multicolored stockings radiating from a black body topped by a flaxen-haired human head. Learning that the young woman is too poor to knit or buy a blanket, Sophie gathers strands of moonlight, wisps of night and pine, old lullabies, snowflakes, and, last of all, her own heart to create a gift that the new mother receives with "love and wonderment." Sophie may physically resemble the proud, angry protagonist of Kate Hovey's Arachne Speaks (2000), but her generosity of spirit gives her a very different character. (Picture book. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689866807
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 4/27/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 292,359
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Eileen Spinelli

Eileen Spinelli is no stranger to the Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers list. Since her debut in 1991 with Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, an IRA/CBC Children's Choice book and Christopher Award winner, she has gone on to author numerous picture books, poetry collections, and chapter books, including the best-selling When Mama Comes Home Tonight, and the critically acclaimed Sophie's Masterpiece. Eileen lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Jane Dyer is the illustrator many books for children, including When Mama Comes Home Tonight and Sophie’s Masterpiece by Eileen Spinelli, and the New York Times bestselling Cookies series by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 25, 2011

    It made me cry

    The use of vocabulary is fantastic. The imagery is delightful. The story itself is sweet and although sad at the end a great way to introduce the circle of life to children.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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