King David & Akav­ish the Spider

Sylvia Rouss Ari Binus, illus.
  • Review
By – December 3, 2015

The impor­tance of deeds in mea­sur­ing the val­ue of each indi­vid­ual is pre­sent­ed with fetch­ing warmth and action in a new pic­ture book by Sylvia Rouss, of Sam­my Spi­der fame. She retells the pop­u­lar midrash in which a lit­tle spi­der saves David’s life before he becomes king. Akav­ish stops David, a shepherd

boy, from fling­ing a stone at his web, and David gains a new appre­ci­a­tion for the spider’s work. Lat­er that night in a storm, he res­cues Akav­ish, who grate­ful­ly promis­es to return the favor. David doubts that the lit­tle spi­der can ever help him. Years lat­er, how­ev­er, when he is being pur­sued by sol­diers of the jeal­ous King Saul, David seeks refuge in a cave. The sol­diers stop at the entrance, but see­ing an unbro­ken web across the mouth of the cave, move on, believ­ing no one could have entered with­out break­ing the web.

In most tellings of this sto­ry, David ini­tial­ly ques­tions God about what use the spider’s web is to any­one. Rouss does not men­tion God in her vari­ant, but David, once he is king, holds onto the same appre­ci­a­tion for the worth of a crea­ture who returns kind­ness, no mat­ter what its size. This tale for younger children

sur­pris­ing­ly appears most­ly in col­lec­tions, unac­com­pa­nied by illus­tra­tion. Hap­pi­ly, Rouss and Binus’s team­work solves the prob­lem. Col­or­ful paint­ings fit each turn in the sto­ry, fill­ing full pages with three-dimen­sion­al, large-eyed pop­pet fig­ures, expres­sion, and motion.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 4 – 8

Sharon Elswit, author of The Jew­ish Sto­ry Find­er, now resides in San Fran­cis­co, where she has been help­ing stu­dents vis­it­ing 826 Valen­cia loca­tions around the city to write sto­ries and poems and get­ting adults up and retelling Jew­ish folk­tales to share with their own spin. 

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