Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Westly: A Spider's Tale" by Bryan Beus

Westly: A Spider's Tale
by Bryan Beus

Westly: A Spider's Tale is currently on tour with I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

He didn’t look like anyone else.
He didn’t act like anyone else.
But Westly was destined to be extraordinary.
A unique mashup of fantasy and fable, this is tale of a caterpillar named Westly who is destined to be a Monarch butterfly and the next king of the butterfly kingdom. But sometimes things don’t turn out the way we plan. When Westly emerges from his cocoon he is nothing like he expected. As a spider he must rediscover who he is. Adopted by the "dirt eaters", Westly is determined to make a difference. He is determined to belong, to be loved, and most importantly, to become who he was born to be.

The metamorphosis was the most important ceremony of the year. For the caterpillars, there was nothing greater than the day they revealed their true colors. In fact, the color of their wings determined much of the rest of their lives. A butterfly's wings had to complement specific flowers in the chandelier, which determined which tier the butterfly would live in. Those born to the highest rank-usually those with ultramarine blue wings-were selected for the council of the king-blue being the natural complementary color to monarchial orange.
Unlike the other caterpillars who were anxious about the metamorphosis, Westly was more anxious about what came after that. It was no secret to him how he would look: all monarchs bore a similar design of orange and black with white spots. What concerned him the most was the role he would need to play as a butterfly prince.
His father had reminded him that, as the prince, Westly would be responsible for the future of the chandelier. But what if I make a mistake as the prince? What if I lose the respect of the others? What if our chandelier home is overrun with weeds? It would all be my fault.
[Want more? Click here to download the first two chapters.]

Praise for the Book
"Westly unites the insect and spider worlds and saves the day. Rich language paints lush images of life under the glass, and the author's illustrations capture the characters' cartoonish charm." ~ Booklist
"This is a great book for young readers who enjoy animal stories or stories about growing up and making mistakes. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, although there were times when I wanted to give Westly some advice seeing as how he doesn't really have anyone to help him once he leaves home. Like many of us, Westly learns a lot the hard way despite his best efforts." ~ Heidi Grange
"This is a great read for teaching a few life lessons to youngsters about judging others, differences, diversity and problem solving. Westly features a sense of adventure and courage, with themes that will appeal to young readers." ~ Charlie Anderson
"A terrific read, teaching life lessons with adorable characters. You'll quickly fall in love with the charming illustrations that accompany the tale. Even though I am not the age group it is intended for, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! I'm so grateful for a wholesome story that is engaging and full of so many good values. Well done!" ~ HBVB

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Westly knows he's a little bit different but, then again, he IS a prince - heir to the Monarch butterfly who is the king of the chandelier realm inside a glass menagerie. Westly finds out just how different he is after the transformation ceremony, when he emerges from his cocoon totally unlike his friends. Feeling unwanted and unloved, Westly sets out to find a place where he belongs. He encounters adventures and strange creatures along the way. Who is a friend and who is a foe? Can the Raven who offers to help him be trusted? And, when disaster strikes, will little Westly be able to save the day?
Even though this is a children's fantasy book, the personification of the insect characters is taken too far and became extremely distracting; there are references to body parts insects don't have (stomach, lung, heart, spine, chin, eyebrows, teeth, fingers, etc.) and actions they cannot perform (such as breathing, blinking, crying, etc. - I'll give a pass to talking and smiling). *Spoiler alert* Other points of contention: the title gives away any surprise at Westly's transformation; Westly has never seen a bird yet knows it's a bird; the raven has waited patiently for the key and ends up smashing the door down anyway; it's never explained how Westly became a spider when he started off as a caterpillar.
Nevertheless, this book provides a good starting point to discuss subjects such as bullying and class distinction with your children. Westly grows up believing that it's the butterflies versus the Dirt Eaters (or bugs). Over the course of the story, Westly learns that both kingdoms depend on each other for survival, even if they don't know it. He also learns about acceptance, belonging, and honor. The story is complemented throughout by delightful black and white illustrations, also by the author.
Suitable for ages 8 and up.

About the Author
Bryan Beus – which rhymes with Zeus – is the winner of the Kirchoff/Wohlberg Award from The New York Society of Illustrators. He works full time as an illustrator for magazines, book covers, film and game conceptual art, and more. When not writing and drawing, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Amanda, mindful meditation, drinking root beer floats, and eating far too many Sour Patch Watermelons. Westly is his debut novel.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.