Spiders and their relatives may seem scary but they are fascinating animals and play an important role in our environment. Cathryn Sill’s non-fiction book, About Arachnids, introduces young children to spiders and their relatives: scorpions, mites, ticks, and harvestmen. Written for preschoolers up to grade 2 it describes the physical characteristics of all arachnids and then shows how various members of the group feed, move about, and take care of their young.
Each two page spread presents a simple sentence or phrase about arachnids on one page and an example of an arachnid in its natural habitat on the other. Sixteen arachnids are included: brown daddy longlegs, desert tarantula, crablike spiny orb weaver, giant vinegaroon, California trapdoor spider, black widow, eastern wood tick, giant desert hairy scorpion, golden silk spider, garden spider, nursery web spider, rabid wolf spider, sculptured centruroides scorpion, velvet mite, brown recluse, and daring jumping spider. An Afterward provides small black and white reproductions of the illustrations with a paragraph providing more details on arachnids in general as well as on the specific example. It is interesting to learn that daddy long legs are not spiders but harvestmen, that the sting of a desert tarantula is no worse than that of a bee, and that the giant vinegarone (a scorpion) sprays a vinegar smelling acid when threatened. The text dispels myths about arachnids and points out their roll in controlling insect populations is. The illustrations provide an up-close look of the arachnids that add substantially to the text.