When I was a kid, I didn’t like spiders. At all. I think it was because we lived in the country and, you don’t know creepy-crawdelic until your hide-and-seek spot turns out to be the equivalent of crashing a daddy longlegs convention. Yikers!
But, the spiders of the world need to thank the authors of Wolfie. Because if it wasn’t for this book, I would not be getting all Buddhist with the spiders we sometimes find around the house. I still don’t like ‘em. But at least now I don’t squash 'em. Instead, I call my husband and he gets a glass and a piece of paper and puts them outside. OUTside. Where they belong.
So, technically, Wolfie is about two boys, Harry and George, who find a wolf spider and turn him into a pet. They learn about him and we learn along with them. But, to me, it’s really about Harry’s firecracker of a little sister, Polly. She totally steals the show. Now, Wolfie was published in 1969, and the boy-versus-little sister relationship is definitely, shall we say, of the era.
No matter, Polly proves her mettle by catching way more spider food than those lazy ole boys do. Check out her fly-wranglin’ style. Oh, SNAP!
Harry and George eventually head down to the nature center to find out if there’s a better place to keep Wolfie than in a glass jar. One thing I love about books from the late 60s/early 70s is that so many of them seem to take place in some kind of magical version of New York City. Even though Harry seems to live in a sleepy small town, when they visit their nature center, it looks like the Museum of Natural History. Love the bear!
The nature center is run by the kiltie brogue-wearing Miss Rose, who tells the boys to put Wolfie in a comfy wood box and forgoodnessssake give him a drink of water.
She also explains to them (and us) the differences between bugs and spiders. (When I was a kid, this picture always made me a tiny bit nervous.)
Harry and George continue to keep Polly from seeing Wolfie, but she eventually takes matters into her own hands and decides to visit Wolfie (who has taken up residence in the doghouse) in the middle of the night.
When I first retrieved Wolfie from my parents’ basement, Griffin didn’t want to read it. Must’ve been the big spider on the opening page:
But I said we could read only as much as he wanted and stop the second it got scary. And you know what? We didn’t stop. In fact, it’s become a fast favorite.
As for me, I’m still not the one who’s gonna be taking out the spiders, no way.
Available here. (Only one left in stock!)