Monday 1 April 2024

Spider Wars

A new children’s book has hit the shelves that’s sure to raise both a few goosebumps and a few delights. Spider Wars is a picture book for primary school aged children released by Melbourne’s Wilkinson Publishing.

Spider Wars was a close collaboration between award-winning author, Dr Gina Newton and the highly talented illustrator, Nandina Vines. Together they have created a humorous, action-packed tale with a twist, followed by a brightly designed and fact-filled information section. As with its breath-taking cover, the book is filled with fun and intriguing illustrations—you’ll spot something new every time you read through it.

The story of Spider Wars pays homage to that classical musical West Side Story and the age-old conundrum of “the grass is always greener….”. A point of difference for today’s market however, is that the main characters are… you guessed it—spiders!

Australia’s tiny dancing and brightly coloured Peacock Spiders make up one gang, with the hairy common garden Wolf spiders making up the other gang. The Peacock and Wolf spiders live on different sides of the Paddock and they’re forever fighting over Middle Ground Hill to get to the other side.

But that all changes when a dazzling little Peacock Spider falls for an oh-so-pretty Wolf Spider. Banned from seeing each other, brave Sparklemuffin risks everything to rescue Wolf Mother. In the process, the sweethearts discover that life on the other side of the Paddock might not be so good after all.

Author Dr Gina Newton is a zoologist and science communicator, and is keen to engage children with Australia’s unique biodiversity. Peacock Spiders are a perfect example. They were not seen for 130 years until their rediscovery in 2005 by Australia’s resident ‘Peacock Spider Man’, Jürgen Otto.  So far, around 100 different species have been found (catch some amazing pics and dancing on

By contrast, Wolf Spiders are rather plain, being brown on brown—but they are not boring, and have their own interesting behaviour. Wolf Spider mothers’ ‘balloon’ their young from their backs. Wolf Spiders also have the most dramatic ‘eyeshine’—just shine a torch through the grass at night and you’ll see hordes of sparking diamonds staring back at you.

Spiders often have a negative reputation. But don’t be fooled—the world needs spiders! They play a vital ecological role in the environment and like their close cousins, the insects, they are facing a declining trend globally. Spiders need more understanding and appreciation—hopefully, Spider Wars may help to lift their reputation, even if just a little!

Dr Gina Newton: M: 0413010752; w:

Nandina Vines: w:

Wilkinson Publishing: w:

Sue-Ann Miller: Email Mb 0407 509 140 | d Tue, Wed, Thu                                      Jane Wilkinson: Email:  W: 03 9654 5446; M: 0420 304 690;

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