Tuesday, October 6, 2015

MG Fantasy/Fable Review: Westly A Spiders Tale by Bryan Beus

25205313Published by: Shadow Mountain 
on September 29th 2015
Genres: Middle Grade Fantasy/Fable
Pages: 176
Format: EArc
Source:  Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Westly lives inside a glass menagerie high among the crystals of a chandelier.  He is destined to follow in his father's footsteps and become the next king of the Monarch butterflies, but Westly is fearful of the responsibilities that lie ahead.  And destiny can be a strange thing, especially when he emerges as a spider and not as the beautiful butterfly he had always envisioned he would be.   Distraught by the possibility of being a disappointment to his father, Westly chooses to make his way down to the "dirt eaters," or "monsters" that live down on the ground.  Westly soon finds that life on the ground is more dangerous then he envisioned and the same bugs that he mocked earlier are the ones who teach him some valuable lessons about himself.

Bryan Beus' Westly a Spiders Tale is a delightful story that combines detailed storytelling with lovely black and white illustrations very classic fable.  In this case, insects set within the world of a glass menagerie and a moral message of accepting yourself for who you are.  Actually, there are lots of different messages that can be interpreted from the story, not judging a book by its cover, that people might not always be as they seem and my favorite was "We don't always have control over what happens to us, but we do have control over how we choose to react.  We have control over who we choose to be."    

Westly is very naive to the dangers that might be below and so makes some poor choices initially.  But, he is also the kind of character that one can easily identify with, wanting to make his father proud and to be accepted.  Ultimately, Westly grows and begins to realize his own strengths with the help of the insects and an unlikely friend that he meets while below.  He also comes to understand that butterflies and bugs have more in common then they think and they have been relying on each other for their survival within the menagerie without even having noticed it.     Westly learned from his mistakes and tried to make amends, with a resolution that related back to the overall moral.   Not one to typically enjoy stories with insects as main characters, well except Charlotte's Web, which I adore.   I found Westly and his friends to be charming and the rich detailed descriptions of Westly's world and the hardships within really gives the reader an insects view of the world.  Plus those worms are pretty scary.  

 Favorite line "waterfalls trickled from leaf pools, and the stream they formed traveled all the way from the top of the chandelier down to its edge and then tumbled out of sight."  

As a side note, there are some nice reader and discussion questions by Shadow Mountain Publishing here   With a preview of the first few chapters at the authors website here.


Author Bryan Beus

Source: Author's website
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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  1. Another delightful sounding book. I'm so glad I found your blog. Thank you again for yet another wonderful review, and another book to read with my granddaughter.

    1. I hope your granddaughter enjoys it, thank you for stopping by and commenting.