How scary is a tarantula? My latest storyline stars one of these giant mini-beasts, so I had to do some research.

My spider-loving friend, Sarah, kindly introduced me to her pets. The Mexican Red-Knee is gorgeous, with orange and black tufts like tasselled trousers. But he’s prone to puffing a cloud of irritating hairs at unwelcome visitors, so I left him in peace.Red_knee_tarantula

Pablo, the Brazilian Black was happier to make friends and she sat, docile and velvety, in my hands. I could feel her slight weight through each of her pipe-cleaner legs. Occasionally she probed the air with a foot before setting it down again.


I had to count and recount her legs. Oddly, there seemed to be ten. But, no – that short pair at the front are pedipalps, more like arms than legs. Back in her tank she used them to grab a hapless cricket for her lunch.


How scary is a tarantula? Not at all. Unless you’re a mini-beast smaller than she is. Then she’s very scary indeed!

GIVEAWAY [NOW CLOSED]: The wonderful Rosalind Beardshaw illustrated six of the picture books I’ve written. If you don’t already have them on your bookshelf, your local library may be able to find them for you. The English language titles are: ‘Daddy’s Little Star’ (or ‘My Little Star’ or ‘Mommy’s Little Star’), ‘A New Home for Little Fox’ (or ‘Daddy’s Little Scout’), ‘Goodnight, Magic Moon’, ‘Night, Light, Sleep Tight’, ‘Little Deer Lost’ and ‘The Best Present’.


Rosalind put in lots of cute mini-beasts, including dragonflies and beetles. I think there are only two spiders among them. Can you spot them?


I’ll send a PRIZE* to the first person who correctly names the two picture books and tells me where these spiders are hiding. Anyone can enter. Just leave a comment on this website.


*The prize is a copy of the toddler-sized My Little Star board-book, now out of print. Good luck!


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