Sophie’s Masterpiece is one of the most beautiful picture books I know to illustrate the concepts of kindness and generosity. Written by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Jane Dyer.
Poor Sophie the spider has a horrible time when she tries to find a place of her own in a boarding house. The tenants screech, swat at her and hide out on the windowsill to escape her. She moves from room to room, unwanted despite the thoughtful spinning she does for the various people she encounters: a web of curtains, a bright blue suit or a a pair of new slippers. Finally, when she must make the long and tiring ascent to the third floor in search of a place to be safe, Sophie is much older and very weary. She finds herself sharing a room with a young woman who does not despise her but smiles at her. When the woman has a baby, Sophie gifts the child with a blanket with strands of moonlight, starlight, wisps of night and old lullabies woven into it. So beautiful, a gift of love. Sophie weaves her heart into the farthest corner and is no more. Her last weaving, her masterpiece is such a beautiful act of kindness.
“Look how she was to people,” remarked Shae-Lynn. “After all of that hitting and screeching, she gave her own heart to be kind.”
Some new aspect of kindness for us to consider. Kindness can continue to be given even when so little seems to be received in return. The act of giving brings its own rewards.
After our discussion we spent some time appreciating, Jane Dyer’s art. Wasn’t it clever to make Sophie the spider look part human? It helped us feel extra connected as we witnessed Sophie’s kind acts and selfless giving. We started talking about other half and half creatures. Not part spider/part human but part spider/part bird or part elephant, part robot, etc. Our afternoon art illustrates how we explored that concept.
Shae-Lynn draws her spider/cat balanced in its web.
Markus created “Super Horse” (notice the S.H. initials) part spider/part horse with a fiery tail!
Jacky made a part eagle/part spider creature. Gorgeous!
Catriona made a part lion/part spider and explained that “really being part spider would be helpful to the lion for when it is catching its prey!”