By Kathryn Lasky
Scholastic Press, $15.99, 151 pages

Something is wrong as the Boston Public Library. A pair of thieves are slicing out valuable maps from rare books, and the librarians don’t have a clue who is responsible. Who can solve the mystery? It’s The Deadlies to the rescue! A family of poisonous but friendly brown recluse spiders have been living in the library with the permission of Tom, the head librarian. Jo Bell, Julep, Felix and their mother Edith watch over the stacks of books from their hidden home. Buster, a brown walnut spider, is new to the library. He teams up with the fearless family to investigate the crime spree. So begins The Deadlies: Spiders on the Case, by Newbery Honor-winning author Kathryn Lasky. Stephen Gilpin’s charming black and white illustrations accompany a fast-paced, funny text. This chapter book for tweens will delight boys and girls alike as they read about the adventures of a family of crime fighting spiders. Teachers and librarians can incorporate a lesson on respecting library materials. Even someone afraid of spiders can enjoy the book without getting spooked. At the end of the story, Lasky includes interesting facts about spiders and libraries. Did you know that spider silk is stronger than any rope or steel cable that humans make? Think about that the next time you see a spider’s web!

Reviewed by Elizabeth Franklin