Published by Shadow Mountain on September 29th 2015
Westly: A Spiders Tale by Bryan Beus
This is tale of a caterpillar named Westly who is destined to be a Monarch butterfly and the next king of the butterfly kingdom. But sometimes things don’t turn out the way we plan. When Westly emerges from his cocoon he is nothing like he expected. As a spider he must rediscover who he is. Adopted by the “dirt eaters,” Westly is determined to make a difference. He is determined to belong, to be loved, and most importantly, to become who he was born to be.
Westly starts out as what appears to be a caterpillar thinking that his father is the monarch butterfly, but when his other friends start to cocoon and hatch, he doesn’t turn into a butterfly. He turns into something else, something horrid, that forces him from the menagerie where he has lived his whole life. His father disowns him and he makes his way to the dark world of the gardeners. There he meets other bugs but he still doesn’t know exactly what he is or what his place in the world is.
After trying many jobs to find a place and earn his keep, Westly wanders out of the green house into wild lands where he meets Mr. Raven. The raven explains that Westly is a spider and has many skills such as web building, but not having been around other spiders, he has no clue exactly what to do. Mr. Raven teaches him to spin webs and poor Westly thinks that he finally has a friend. The new skill of web spinner does finally offer him a place to earn his keep by collecting the mint leaves to feed the community. The raven has other plans that makes Westly the pawn in a horrible scenario that may cost the lives of all the inhabitants.
Overall, this is a very intriguing read and kept my attention. I think this will appeal to a lot of middle grade students, especially boys. There is intrigue, an important social lesson about status and being a part of a community as well as being true to yourself. I found Westly to be an inspiring in that he always tries to do what is right, even though he gets it wrong sometimes. One thing that really bugged me about the story was that I have never heard of a caterpillar type insect turning into a spider, but I guess that is necessary for the story to work.
Author Bryan Beus
Bryan Beus – which rhymes with Zeus – is the winner of the Kirchoff/Wohlberg Award from The New York Society of Illustrators. He works full time as an illustrator for magazines, book covers, film and game conceptual art, and more. When not writing and drawing, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Amanda, mindful meditation, drinking root beer floats, and eating far too many Sour Patch Watermelons. Westly is his debut novel.
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