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SILK & VENOM by Kathryn Lasky


Searching for a Dangerous Spider

by Kathryn Lasky & photographed by Christopher G. Knight

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4222-8
Publisher: Candlewick

Biology professor Greta Binford studies spiders in an Oregon lab and in the field in the Dominican Republic, where she searches for L. Taino, a Caribbean relative of the venomous brown recluse that might provide clues to how and when the recluse genus arrived in North America. The husband-and-wife team who produced the Newbery Honor–winning Sugaring Time (1983), as well as many other titles, follow the arachnologist, beginning with her investigations on the family farm in Indiana. In leisurely, literary prose, Lasky presents the ancient class of arachnids before introducing the scientist and explaining her quest. In the field, Greta looks for particular species whose DNA and venom, when analyzed, can help fill out the family tree. “It’s not a simple story,” the scientist says; neither is the book. On most spreads, a full-bleed photograph is opposed by substantial text and one or two smaller pictures, many without captions. There are occasional maps, and the end matter includes a picture glossary with Latin and common names, which serves as an index to the spider photographs. (sources, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)