STARRED REVIEW
March 2024

Luigi, the Spider Who Wanted to Be a Kitten

By Michelle Knudsen
Review by
Anybody who thinks spiders can’t be cute will be proven wrong with Luigi, the Spider Who Wanted to Be a Kitten, a charmingly illustrated story about identity and honesty.
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When a big, hairy spider moves into a new house, his plan is to hide and catch flies—but then a kind old woman named Betty reaches beneath the couch and feels his fuzz. She thinks he’s a kitten! Newly named Luigi doesn’t want to scare her, so he pretends to be a cat.

It turns out that cats have cushy lives—snacking on cereal, napping in beds, and playing with toys—and the longer Luigi pretends, the more he truly wants to be a kitten. He misses catching flies and his sticky web, but this is better! If he pretends hard enough, maybe Betty will never notice that he isn’t a cat.

However, when Betty’s friends come to visit and comment on how she adopted a spider, he knows the gig is up. But when Betty turns to him, it’s with open arms and a kind question: “Can you be yourself and still be my friend?”

Author Michelle Knudsen and illustrator Kevin Hawkes, the duo behind Library Lion, reunite for the first time in over a decade with Luigi, the Spider Who Wanted to Be a Kitten. Anybody who thinks spiders can’t be cute will be proven wrong with this charmingly illustrated story about identity and honesty.

With acrylics and pencil, Hawkes uses both shadows and Luigi’s long spider legs to expertly convey his kitten-ness, and read-alouds can be paired with easy challenges to kids to match Luigi’s actions: Can you make your hands look like kitten ears? Can you hold your leg back like a tail?

Luigi, the Spider Who Wanted to Be a Kitten warms the heart, highlighting how freeing the truth can be, as well as the fact that you can be more than one thing—so long as you’re happy.

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