Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
This wonderfully illustrated fable about the consequences of greed opens as a group of insects spy a mysterious object lying in the grass, which "fell from the sky on a Thursday." Readers see that it's a sumptuously hued glass marble, but the insects, several of which sport dapper hats, are baffled. "It is not of earthly origins," says wise Grasshopper. A large, bold spider with four eyes and a bow tie appropriates the marble as the centerpiece of an outdoor amusement venue, charging admission and jacking up the price to earn piles of leaf currency--until customers stop coming. Largely black-and-white spreads by the Fan Brothers (The Antlered Ship), rendered digitally and in graphite, offer mesmerizing crispness and definition. The varied textures captured, from delicate dandelion heads to the glow of fireflies and the glossy reflective surface of the marble itself, give readers an entrée into the insects' miniature world, and the sense that they are privy to its secrets and movements as the insects learn how to make wonder available to all. Ages 4--8. Agent: Kirsten Hall, Catbird Agency. (Sept.)
School Library Journal Review
PreS-Gr 3--With intricate graphite illustrations, the Fan brothers deliver a lovely story about how the creatures in a garden react when an unknown marble-like object falls from the sky. But these creatures do not panic like Chicken Little. How does it taste? Will it hatch if they keep it warm enough? Where did it come from? They are intrigued by the pop of color in their midst. A crafty spider in a top hat takes ownership of the object and builds an amusement park to showcase the wonder from the sky. The adorable spider takes readers on a journey through capitalism as well as supply and demand. Will anyone come to see the wonder if the prices are too steep? What will happen if the object's owner comes to claim it? The book works well for library and classroom read-alouds. It can also be used in classroom connections for perspective, inference, and cause and effect. VERDICT A whimsical story of what happens when an everyday item is suddenly seen through new eyes. A welcome addition to public, school, and classroom libraries serving young children.--Monisha Blair, Glasgow M. S., Alexandria, VA
It fell from the sky on a Thursday," and all the insects in the garden immediately agreed it was magnificent. Spider claimed it with a web and built a grand exhibit called WonderVille to show it off. Tickets started at a reasonable one leaf apiece, but as the lines grew longer, the greedy spider began raising the prices until no one came. Luckily, the stars appeared to share their wisdom that beauty should be enjoyed by all, and Spider was a changed arachnid. The Fan brothers' spectacularly detailed graphite work is as sumptuous and painstakingly rendered as always, and they use both shadow and light and limited pops of stunning color to enhance their storytelling in a remarkable way. The book is almost entirely black and white, full of unique characters (dung beetles, stick insects, stink bugs, and Luna moths, anthropomorphized by the occasional jaunty top hat or fedora) as photo-realistic as the dandelions and toadstools around them. The only color used is, very deliberately, in the item that fell (a vintage swirl marble), leaves of money, and the expanded WonderVille at the end, which lends the book a lovely Wizard of Oz feeling. The story is elegantly told with clear anti-consumerist, anti-greed messaging, and while the spider is a bit alarming-looking, much can be forgiven for its dapper bow tie.
Horn Book Review
This contemporary fable begins on its title page with a cat's-eye marble falling to earth from the sky. The mysterious object is soon investigated by a cast of garden critters. The item confounds each one in turn, from a grasshopper who states that the marble is "most likely a fallen star, a comet, or perhaps even a small planet" to a Luna moth who (in a breathtakingly luminescent evening scene) attempts to hatch the marble, believing it to be a chrysalis. Finally, a greedy spider (clad in a bow tie and a top hat) effectively gaslights his neighbors into his taking possession of the "Wonder from the Sky." The spider's scheme to charge exorbitant prices to view the "Wonder" eventually unravels due to a combination of disgruntled customers, bad weather, and, worst of all, an "Unexpected Disaster" -- a child, who takes the marble away. Remorseful, and inspired by the night stars' willingness to shine for all, the spider decides to use his web to catch new objects from the sky (LEGO bricks, thumbtacks, a pocket watch), this time to share with everyone. The graphite illustrations are meticulously drawn, with particular attention to light, surface texture, and page-to-page continuity (for example, the locations of air bubbles within the marble remain constant). Extensive crosshatching and shading provide a strong sense of form and depth, while a soothing sepia wash serves as the dominant hue for nearly every character and background -- allowing the full-color marble (plus a few other key objects) to visually pop off the page. Patrick Gall September/October 2021 p.64(c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
When a strange orb falls into their habitat, the Spider commandeers it, constructing "WonderVille" and selling tickets to long lines of curious insects. The object (readers will recognize it as a yellow-green marble) invites considerable speculation. Is it a gumdrop, a comet, a chrysalis? The Spider, nixing the chatter, asserts that "whatever it is, it most certainly belongs to me," insisting that the sphere has fallen into his web. He constructs a "Grand Exhibit" to showcase "the Wonder from the Sky." As lines of visitors lengthen, admission increases from one leaf to two--then more--until visitors cease. The Spider presumes they've gone to invite prospective customers. That self-aggrandizing assumption is rendered moot by "the Unexpected Disaster. / A five-legged creature stole the Wonder and took it back to the sky." (This deus ex machina is a child's hand.) Time passes, WonderVille reverts to its previous state, and insects return. The Spider, ignored, experiences a nighttime epiphany as stars shine down. "They didn't hide their light from anyone. Not even a selfish Spider." Patiently, he spins webs, and "sure enough, more Wonders fell from the sky." In graphite-gray spreads rife with delicate flora, colorful new "Wonders" (a thimble, pushpin, Lego, and more) captivate the neighborhood--free of charge. The Fans' marvelous illustrations sparkle with nuance, from lofting dandelion seeds to the Spider's dew-dropped web. The pro-community message is slightly undermined by the choice to portray a gendered, top-hatted, preponderantly male cast. (This book was reviewed digitally.) Well-nigh Wondrous. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.