by Kathryn Lasky

Candlewick Press, $16.99, 64 pages

Spiders. Yuck. Although that’s most people’s reaction, Silk and Venom shows readers the world of spiders through the eyes of Greta Binford, an arachnologist. The book explores how Binford’s childhood and schooling led her to the study and love of spiders. Readers also get to see what happens in her lab and on an expedition to the Dominican Republic.

At first glance Silk and Venom appears to be a picture book; after all, each page is rich with detailed photographs of spiders. But as you read the text it becomes clear that this is a book for older children. This book seems to be an ideal balance of challenging information in the text and dozens of eye-opening—even beautiful– photographs. Even for students who rate spiders high on the yuck factor, Silk and Venom is a worthwhile read for the peek at the life of a scientist and a scientific expedition. This book takes what could be a dry fact bombardment and makes it interesting and human by weaving the story of the spiders in with the story of Greta Binford. A must for spider lovers and budding scientists of all types.

Reviewed by Jodi Webb