A spider learns about the beauty of impermanence when his world is disrupted by the forces of nature.
Stanley, an arachnid who is also a collector of “seeds, / twigs, leaves... // and all kinds of precious things he cannot name,” has blown in on the wind and found the perfect home for a delightful collection of items. But when the rain and wind take apart the web he’s woven to keep his things, he struggles to save his last leaf. In the end, he’s left with nothing but a sad spider cry. “Stanley has lost everything. Hasn’t he?” Industrious spider that he is, Stanley weaves a web re-creating the objects he lost just before he takes off again with the wind, leaving even his new creation behind. As a study in the graceful way to handle loss, Stanley’s story carries a surprising amount of emotional heft, especially considering he is a black puffball with stick legs (all right, the big, cute eyes help). Animator Shi’s illustrations are subtle, with gradient color backgrounds and a clever sense of motion, particularly in an opening spread showing spiders hitching rides on a gust of air.
Stanley’s story is beautiful and wise, and even if it means a very sad few moments as he collects himself, it’s worth experiencing for younger readers, who may learn to rebuild and move on instead of mourning the next toy they lose. (Picture book. 4-9)