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Spider Kane and the Mystery Under the May-Apple

Spider Kane and the Mystery Under the May-Apple

by Mary Pope Osborne, Victoria Chess (Illustrator)

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Leon Leafwing's new girlfriend, the lovely Mimi, has disappeared! His ladybug pals inform him that it's a case for Spider Kane, the dashing detective who is cool, clever and well heeled (eight times over). Spider Kane is on the case, and soon he and Leon are plunged into a web of intrigue, mystery and mayhem. For all those Mary Pope Osborne fans ready for middle


Leon Leafwing's new girlfriend, the lovely Mimi, has disappeared! His ladybug pals inform him that it's a case for Spider Kane, the dashing detective who is cool, clever and well heeled (eight times over). Spider Kane is on the case, and soon he and Leon are plunged into a web of intrigue, mystery and mayhem. For all those Mary Pope Osborne fans ready for middle grade reading comes this Stepping Stone book, complete with a brand new cover!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This slender and ultimately unsatisfying mystery concerns the insect inhabitants of Cottage Garden, chief among them Leon Leafwing, an earnest bug whose infatuation with a beautiful and inexplicably vanished butterfly fuels the plot. Led by more experienced adventurers, Leon sets out to rescue Mimi from her alleged kidnapper, the evil Emperor Moth. But after an entertaining ramble to the Dark Swamp--the book's high point in terms of suspense, following a slow start--Leon learns that the kidnapping was staged, the Emperor Moth merely invented,stet comma and the expedition mounted only to test his mettle for prospective membership in a sort of good-citizens' band. Though Leon recovers from his disappointment, the reader is left feeling let down and cheated. Chess's antic drawings--her eccentricity shines through even in black-and-white--are the highlight of this overly silly, insubstantial story, whose ``mystery'' evaporates before the end. Ages 6-12. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Ellen R. Braaf
Leon Leafwing, an impulsive young butterfly, lives in the Cottage Garden with his social-climbing mother, Le M�re. Drawn into a plot of deception and intrigue, Leon makes the acquaintance of the star of this mystery series when he investigates the disappearance of a beautiful, gossamer-winged butterfly named Mimi. Spider Kane is an eight-legged cross between Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Clouseau. A retired military hero, world traveler, and jazz clarinetist with a penchant for show tunes, Kane banded together with Hawk and Rosie (who served with him in the Mosquito Wars) to found the Order of the MOTH--Mission: Only To Help. Mimi's disappearance is only a ruse designed to test Leon's mettle. The daring young butterfly passes his initiation test and becomes a member of the secret society dedicated to help those who can't help themselves. A delightful, fast paced page-turner. 1999 (orig.
Children's Literature - Susan Hepler
The second book in the series about the spider detective, jazz musician, and bon vivant features a gold shipment stolen off stage. When Spider's group of fellow insect detectives are kidnapped, he and his remaining Lieutenant Lacewing solve the mystery by close observation, putting things together, disguise, and surprise. Snappy dialogue, which uses conventions of the genre, a buggy atmospheric setting, with puns and clues carefully laid out for novice readers, the book is a good introduction to the detective/mystery genre. No illustrations are included in this paperback edition, however. "Spider Kane" series.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-- Soon after he meets Mimi--a gentle, gossamer-winged butterfly with whom he instantly falls in love--Leon Leafwing finds himself entangled in a web of insect intrigue. Her mysterious disappearance prompts the earnest young butterfly to visit Spider Kane--``traveling jazz musician playwright'' and brilliant detective. The sleuth surmises that Mimi has been snatched by the despicable Emperor Moth and proposes a mission for her rescue. With Spider's guidance and the help of some arthropod friends, Leon embarks on an adventure that tests his strength and courage. A suprise ending sets the stage for future expeditions. Using unpredictable plot twists, clever characterizations, and a melodramatic tone, Osborne weaves an amusing and suspenseful tale that echoes a Sherlock Holmes thriller. Subtly placed clues involve readers from the beginning, as do detailed descriptions of miniature furnishings and foods. Chess's black-and-white drawings capture the humor of the tale (it's hard not to snicker at Leon's four legs clad in checkered pants) and add to its appeal as a read-aloud. --Joy Fleishhacker, Brooklyn Children's Museum

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Spider Kane Series
Product dimensions:
5.07(w) x 7.53(h) x 0.33(d)
650L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 10 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 6

"I think I've found it! I hear music!" Rosie shouted as she led the way along the crumbling stone wall, searching for the entrance to Spider Kane's home.

Leon and Little Pickles followed her into a tiny, cavelike hollow between two stones. Then they groped their way down a dark tunnel that led to the elegant chambers of Spider Kane.

They found him playing a jazz tune on a clarinet made from a hollow river reed. The lively music moved in time with a leaping candle flame, and shadows danced on the chalky stone walls and silken floor. Beside the spider was a briarwood pipe and a golden goblet made from a touch-me-not flower. Around his shoulders was a paisley dressing gown.

When the jazzy song ended, Rosie spoke softly: "Spy?"

Spider Kane jerked around to face his three visitors. Then he burst into laughter. "Lieutenant Rose! Good heavens!"

The two hugged each other warmly. Then Rosie said, "Spy, I'd like you to meet two dear friends, Little Pickles and Leon Leafwing -- "

"Hello, Miss Pickles! What a pleasure," said Spider Kane in his deep, velvety voice.

"Gracious," said Little Pickles, trembling with excitement.

As Spider Kane turned to him, Leon quickly slipped on Mimi's dark glasses to hide his teary, swollen eyes.

"Hello, Mr. Leafwing, very pleased to meet you, too," said Spider Kane.

"Thank you. You can call me Leon."

"Fine, Leon. Now sit! All of you, sit and let me get you something to drink!" Spider Kane moved across the room with a slight limp. Then he poured a dark red liquid into three golden touch-me-not goblets. "Vintage cherry juice," he said. "How about some dinner?Parsnip pie? Peas in pastry shells?"

"No thank you, Mr. Kane," said Little Pickles. "We've already eaten."

"Ah, yes, I see that now. You dined on black bean soup."

"How did you know?" stammered Little Pickles.

"I've studied food stains for many years, Miss Pickles," he said. "The dark blotches on your blouse are definitely black bean soup."

"Oh, dear," said Little Pickles, blushing and putting her hand over the stains.

Rosie laughed. "I see you haven't lost your touch, Spy."

"No, indeed, Lieutenant Rose."

"Good," said Rosie. "Because we need your help tonight. Leon is in great distress."

"Ah." The spider fixed his eyes on the butterfly. "Would you kindly remove your glasses, sir?"

When Leon took off Mimi's dark glasses, Spider Kane stared at his red eyes. "Your girlfriend," the spider said softly.

"How did you know?"

"Your tear-stained face speaks a thousand words, Leon. As does the wilted lilac in your buttonhole. I assume you paid a call on her -- and she wasn't there?"

"That's right," said Leon sadly. "Her books were torn apart, her furniture was broken. I just found these little glasses --"

"Ah, let me see." Spider Kane took the dark glasses from Leon and studied them. "But the gossamer-winged lady was missing," he said quietly.

Leon gasped. "How -- did you know she was a gossamer-winged butterfly?"

"I have a rare gift of being able to make instant and perfect calculations of size without the use of a measuring tool," said Spider Kane. "I can tell you that these dark glasses exactly fit the head of a gossamer-winged butterfly."

"You know the head size of a gossamer-winged butterfly?"

"I know the head sizes of over two hundred different kinds of butterflies, my friend. If these belonged to a butterfly in your family, they'd be half a micrometer larger."

As Leon laughed with astonishment, Spider Kane smiled and lit his pipe.

Meet the Author

Mary Pope Osborne is an American author of children’s books. She is best known for the award-winning and bestselling Magic Tree House series, which has been translated into more than 30 languages. Growing up in a military family, Osborne traveled a lot and continued to do so as an adult, which influences her writing. The first of the Magic Tree House books, Dinosaurs Before Dark, introduces adventuring siblings Jack and Annie. Osborne has also written several books for children relating to mythology, historical fiction and fact, and more.

Brief Biography

Goshen, Connecticut
Date of Birth:
May 20, 1949
Place of Birth:
Fort Sill, Oklahoma
B.A., University of North Carolina

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