Teaching kids that it's okay to be different

The Seven-Legged Spider

The Seven-Legged Spider
By Lee Poh Peng
Illustrated by Tan Vay Fern
Publisher: MPH Publishing

The Seven-Legged Spider is a simple picture book about a spider who has seven instead of eight legs.

One day, Ladybird spots Spider and asks him about his seven legs. Spider tells him that all spiders are the same and he just has one less leg.

At this point, we see other spiders on the page. This is where children can count the number of legs on each spider.

The arachnid and beetle become fast friends and Ladybird finds out that despite having seven legs, Spider works hard every night spinning webs.

The impressed Ladybird also learns that Spider and his friends spin various designs of webs.

Although Ladybird can't spin webs and tiptoe on them, he might be able to do other things with his own talents and using his six legs, says Spider.

The story is very simple, but there are several things that make this book a good one.

Firstly, children can do a bit of counting when reading this book with their parents.

Secondly, kids will learn that it's okay to be different, and that being different doesn't diminish your capabilities and talents.

Thirdly, it teaches kids that everyone has their own talents and is special in their own unique way.

Fourthly, there is the quick and short science lessons on how many legs spiders and ladybirds have and what spiders do.

And, lastly, I liked that the last four pages are not fully coloured. This gives kids the opportunity to use them for colouring.

Being a fan of illustrator Tan Vay Fern's work, I have nothing bad to say about it. She has done the illustrations on a number of other Malaysian children's books in the past, including Mohana Gill's Hayley's Fruitastic Garden and Wong Ching Hsia's The Zany Zebra (and other books from that series).

I especially like how cute she's made Ladybird. I didn't find Spider cute though, but then I don't know if it's possible to make a hairy arachnid cute.

If I were forced to find one thing I was not satisfied with it would have to be the cover. I find it a bit dark and not as colourful and cute as it could be – kids prefer those, right? But, that would be nitpicking.

This is author Lee Poh Peng's first children's book. I think she should write more books like this one and introduce children to insects, bugs and creepy crawlies.

After all, there are more than three reasons to get a book like this one.