REVIEW by Fo Orbell

NWR Issue r10

Ben and the Spider Prince

by Angela Fish

Cover Ben and the Spider Prince Angela Fish

Spiders are wonderful, fascinating creatures but too frequently get a bad press. This spellbinding tale will captivate young children between five and eight years old and should help elevate their status as indispensable, awe-inspiring mini-beasts. The adventure concerns a young boy called Ben, and Lox, the gate-keeper of the spider kingdom who lives under the hedge in the boy’s garden. Ben is given the task of collecting three ingredients before the next full moon so that the Spider Wizard can concoct a potion to cure the Spider Prince. He has the additional problem of steering clear of Spindra, the jealous sister of the Spider Queen.

The story is a clever blend of fantasy and contemporary realism as the action moves between the two very different worlds. With the help of his gran, his friend Jess, some fairies and an assortment of other magical creatures, Ben undertakes a quest that tests both his bravery and friendship. The author uses simple concise language and short chapters to engage young children and keep them wanting to know more. My seven-year-old daughter enjoyed reading the book with me and loved the black and white drawings that brought alive the spider kingdom.

The Spider Prince is a sequel to the first adventure, Ben and The Spider Gate and will be followed by Ben and The Spider Lake, to be published on 28 September. However, each book can be enjoyed alone and does not necessitate reading in any strict order. I would recommend this easy-to-read and rewarding book for children at Key Stage One – confident young readers will enjoy reading the book to themselves while younger children will listen entranced by the magical world of the spider kingdom.

Fo Orbell is a freelance picture researcher and writer. She is a regular researcher for Oxford University Press and is currently completing an MA in Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University.

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