Not-So Itty-Bitty Spiders
by Stadelmann, Amy Marie

Meet twin sisters Olive and Beatrix! One is a witch. One is totally not-a-witch.

This series is part of Scholastic's early chapter book line called Branches, which is aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!

Twin sisters Olive and Beatrix don't often get along. Olive is "ordinary" and loves science. But Beatrix is a witch! She has a brain full of tricks, and she uses her magic powers to play pranks on Olive and her best friend, Eddie. In this first book, Beatrix ruins Olive and Eddie's latest science project. So Olive and Eddie play a prank on Bea. They rig up a bucket of spiders over her bedroom door. But when the spiders crawl into one of Bea's magic potions...WHAM! Giant spiders are on the loose! These sisters will have to work together to shrink the not-so itty-bitty spiders down to size!

Amy Marie Stadelmann loved to use her imagination to write and illustrate storybooks for fun when she was a child. In fact, it was so much fun, she decided to do it as an adult as well. Amy works on Nick Jr. preschool programs likeThe Wonder Pets! and Team Umizoomi!. She lives in Brooklyn, NY where she enjoys sunny days, mugs of hot cocoa and giving hugs to her grumpy pet rabbit, Oswald.Olive & Beatrix is her first series.

Twins Beatrix and Olive and friend Eddie have an adventure with spiders in this early chapter book. Beatrix, born at the stroke of midnight on a full moon, is a witch, while Olive, born 2 minutes later, is not. Olive and Eddie love science. (This is downplayed: the one bit of text that alludes to science, when Olive tells Beatrix that spiders are not insects because they have eight legs, not six, is cut short by Beatrix, who tells Olive to "stop talking like a teacher"—an unfortunate message.) Beatrix loves to play magical jokes on Eddie and Olive, and they, in turn, hatch a plot to retaliate by dumping spiders on her, since Beatrix is afraid of spiders. Their plan backfires when the spiders get into Beatrix's growing potion and become giant spiders, forcing them to work together to remedy the situation. Although the story moves along, and the ample illustrations (graphic novel-like with plenty of dialogue bubbles) are lively enough, the story never really sparkles. Mor e actual science information would have been welcome, and a stab at diversity—Eddie is shown as grayish (regrettably the same color as Beatrix's pet talking pig), compared to Olive's and Beatrix's paper-white skin tone—doesn't really make an impression. This pleasant tale doesn't stand out. (activities) (Fantasy. 5-7) Copyright Kirkus 2015 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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