Hovey, K., & Drawson, B. (ill.) (2000). Arachne speaks. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books. ISBN: 0689829019.
Annotation: This poem retells the Greek myth of Arachne, who challenges the goddess of weaving and is turned into the mother of spiders as punishment.
Reaction: As a Classics major in my undergrad days, this poem really called to me. I have always been fascinated by Greek mythology (hence the Classics degree), and I remember devouring any retellings of the myths I could get my hands on at age 11 or so, which is the age of kids to whom I would recommend this book.
Hovey emphasizes Archne’s arrogance and superiority and lets the reader know that she brought her punishment upon herself. Athena, in this poem, is angry with Arachne’s unyeilding pride, but she also is protective. When Arachne weaves a tapestry of the gods’ shameful deeds, Athena calls for the North Wind to destroy it before “the wickedness she’s sown…spreads” and the other gods discover her work and dole out an even harsher punishment than being turned into a spider.
The characters in Drawson’s acrylic paintings are reminescent of figures in Greek pottery, though modernized, and set the tone for this poem. The faces are expressive, and the reader can see the pride on Arachne’s face and the anger and dismay on Athena’s. My favorite thing about the illustrations, though, is the crowd of admirers that follow Arachne around, whose hyper expressive faces act as a Greek chorus for the poem, reacting to the action of the poem.