Jerrythespider is a smart-aleck jumping spider that reluctantly joins Alma's quest to vanquish the evil Sitharon.
Hanging in her web above the entrance to the old Presbyterian Church in a small California town, Alma has a nightmare about the horrible slaughter of innocent spiders by a giant flying beast, a Sitharon that lives in the ancient English woodland called Top Hat Wood. Months later, her children are born. As they balloon away to their new homes, Alma senses the presence of evil still lurking in the old woodland. She fears for the lives of her children and feels powerless against the evil Sitharon. She quietly conceives a plan to defeat the Sitharon.
Confined to her web, Alma picks Jerrythespider to be her eyes and ears in Top Hat Wood. She creates a possible future where Jerrythespider meets Dr. Greenstone, who she needs to first transport Jerrythespider to England and later to be a valuable ally. But, Dr. Greenstone is preoccupied with his vacation trip to the Sutton Hoo Farmlands. Plus, he is preparing for his expert testimony at the upcoming Moroccan-Three Murder Trial. He is oblivious to the struggle between good and evil, which is literally taking place all around him. Nonetheless, Alma plans to have Jerrythespider team up with Dr. Greenstone. Together-Alma, Jerry, and Dr. Greenstone-will continue to seek and destroy evil wherever it shows its face.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.28(d)|
|Age Range:||1 - 17 Years|
Read an Excerpt
The Battle of Top Hat Wood
Book One: The Adventures of Dr. Greenstone and Jerrythespider Trilogy
By Taylor Samuel Lyen, Denis Proulx
iUniverse LLCCopyright © 2014 Taylor Samuel Lyen
All rights reserved.
Behind the old Presbyterian Church where Ariadne's Creek wanders through the forest, babbling over the stones, Jerrythespider sits back on the yellow petals of a Sierra blazing star and basks in the early morning sun. Taking a bit of nectar for breakfast he wonders what the day will bring. Jumping to the ground he travels over the barren land and small rocks near the edge of the creek. Every so often he stops and looks for movement through the eight eyes located on his head, which give him magnificent surround vision. Leg hairs attach to sense organs in his exoskeleton respond to vibrations, chemicals, touch, and air currents, continuously sending information to his central nervous system. Instantly aware that he is crossing through fresh ant trails, Jerrythespider thinks.
Yuck! Just my luck—I hate the taste of ants! What I need is a juicy lacewing or a succulent spider or two.
Heading toward the tall grasses alongside the creek he persists in his never-ending search for food. A few feet from him water splashing over rocks has created a small pool under the shade of a willow tree. Looking through the grass he sees a mosquito laying her eggs in the shallow water. Jerrythespider heads away from the insect, taking a circular route to the other side shallow pool. Turning back along the bank of the creek he jumps to the end of a low hanging willow leaf and positions himself over the mosquito. Looking down he attaches a silk safety line to a leaf. After measuring the distance to the mosquito he springs on the mosquito, sinking his fangs into her abdomen. The end is quick.
For the moment his hunger is satisfied. Jerrythespider rests under ground litter until the heat of the day passes. So each morning goes for this sun-loving jumping spider. A smart, inquisitive, and highly evolved Jerrythespider is the brightest spider behind the church. He has never met another spider that he hasn't eaten, which only adds to his sense of superiority.
All spiders use their sensory information to find food and mates and to keep safe from harm. Jerrythespider is blessed with all these sensory abilities and a lot more. He is capable of thinking complex thoughts and solving complex problems. Jerrythespider spends hours by Ariadne's Creek puzzling over what he sees. Like humans he has keen vision and sees everything clearly and in color.
On one of his daily journeys behind the church Jerrythespider catches a glimpse of something reflecting in a broken bottle by the creek. He pulls back into his defensive stance, positioning his front walking legs high above of him.
What is this? Another spider, he muses. It's so pretty with its red, white, and blue face and two large dark eyes peering at me. It's a shame to eat the poor thing. But it's either him or me!
Jerrythespider jumps at the spider and bounces off the large piece of broken glass. He attacks again and again with the same results.
Boy, this guy is one tough spider! He thinks to himself.
When more attempts to kill the other spider fail, Jerrythespider notices his enemy does not have any odor and seems to be mimicking his every move. He sits back and raises his right front leg. The other spider does the same with the opposite leg. He raises himself on all eight legs. The other spider raises itself the same way. Finally Jerrythespider figures out that he is looking at himself. He closely examines his features and concludes that he is very handsome spider. Solving the mystery of the spider in the glass only inflates Jerrythespider's opinion of himself—that he is without a doubt the most intelligent and handsome spider in the land.
Almost every day Jerrythespider jumps over to the church and explores the outside of the building. He knows every inch of the structure from the foundation to the flagpole to the bell tower and the steeple. On Sundays he listens to Pastor Phillip Ishaq's sermons. He pays attention to the conversations of the people. Although Jerrythespider's native language is Spiderese he is so fascinated by humans that he learns how to speak their language. He loves Pastor Ishaq's messages because they answer many of his own questions: Where do I come from? What is my purpose? Where am I going?
One morning Jerrythespider is captured by the pastor's sermon about "Thou Shalt Not Kill." Pastor Ishaq gives Jerry a lot to think about. Hearing the message that humans sin when they kill other humans greatly disturbs him because every chance he gets he kills every spider he sees. They are so tasty and nutritious too. He has never thought twice about killing another spider. Now he's forced to face difficult questions.
Is it wrong to kill and eat the spiders I meet? Did not the Creator create me to have a taste for other spiders? Are the rules for killing different for humans than for spiders?
His attention to such weighty matters wears on him and soon his thoughts drift to other topics like the weather, is there a mate out there waiting for him, and what he's going to eat for lunch.
Jerrythespider spends hours on the back of Pastor Ishaq's easy chair watching CNN, Fox, and all of the history, movie, and animal channels. He observes that humans kill each other all over the place.
Isn't it strange that humans have so many exceptions to what they think Is the Creator's commandment? Jerrythespider muses. Maybe the rule against killing other humans is because humans live in groups where cooperation among individuals is so important?
He immediately dismisses that point. The evidence he sees on television tells him just the opposite. Humans have made many exceptions to the commandment the Creator gave them. Then, watching a National Geographic special, Jerrythespider found out that the Kalinago people, who traveled from the Orinoco river area to all parts of the Caribbean Islands and Venezuela, practiced cannibalism! After giving the matter more thought, he concludes that humans kill one other for all kinds of silly reasons—money, jealousy, revenge, hatred, enjoyment, gaining the "power" of their enemies, and, well, there just isn't much rhyme or reason why humans kill. Maybe it's in their nature, placed there by the Creator for some purpose. He simply doesn't know. He is very clear about why spiders kill other spiders: to eat and to defend themselves. That's it.
Very confusing? Humans kill for some reason or no reason at all. One thing for sure, he concludes, humans are liable to kill at any time and cannot be trusted.
Almost every day around the church Jerrythespider witnesses how terribly humans treat spiders—killing them on sight. As a thinking spider he knows he will give more reflection to the subject. For now he will hold the belief that it is part of the Creator's plan for spiders to eat spiders.
Survival of the fittest, he thinks to himself. It's one of the Creator's rules to keep only the strongest and most creative spiders alive to procreate. That's, of course, why I'm here!
As for humans he decides the best policy is to stay clear of them, even Pastor Ishaq. No spider ever intentionally harmed a human in spite of all the news to the contrary. Nevertheless, almost all humans are deathly afraid of spiders.
Spiders don't want to be around humans any more than humans want to be around spiders, Jerrythespider thinks. When problems happen between the two, it's usually bad for the spider. I remember when I was about to jump on Cousin Freddie, a mouthwatering morsel, when some human stomped on him, a very sad day for Freddie—not to mention the fact I went hungry all day.
Jerrythespider travels up the side of the church to the bell tower, which is an adventure he looks forward to each day. In the tower there are other spiders living in webs. He can't eat those spiders because they have all kinds of tricks to avoid him. All he can do is watch the spiders and hope that someday he will find a way to dine on them. Afterwards he jumps along the ledge outside the bell tower. He spins a silk safety line, tacks it on the ledge, and spends time taking in the beauty of the countryside, watching the humans go about their business, and looking out for his next meal. He is a ground spider and doesn't build webs. He spins only enough silk to occasionally build a shelter or to secure him to a rock, flower, or the side of a building while he hunts. His silk safety line saves him from falling if he jumps and misses a flying or crawling insect or spider.
To the keen observer Jerrythespider's life is a predictable one. Spring, summer, and most of the autumn months he lounges on flowers behind the church, travels around and in the church (watching out so he isn't stepped on by any of the townspeople), visits Pastor Ishaq (but keeps out of sight), climbs up to the bell tower to watch the web spiders, and eats everything he can along the way. When winter comes his journey changes.
Winter in Jerrythespider's neighborhood is cold with temperatures reaching below freezing. The number of insects along the creek decreases. There's not even another spider to be found for a midmorning snack. Inside the church insects and spiders roam the warm floors and lofts. They hide under the furniture, in the curtain rods, and places where cleaning ladies forget to clean. But during wintertime he doesn't have the energy to hunt. At the first sign of cold he makes his journey to the bell tower and builds a silken sac on the underside of one of the louvers. Hidden safely in the warmth of his silk pouch he is supplied with lots of fresh air. He relaxes, which signals his metabolism to slow down and hibernate during the winter. His biological clock automatically sets a wake-up call for a warm day in April.CHAPTER 2
A hot April sun rises high over a brood of spiderlings hatching from their eggs. They scramble along the branch of a giant oak tree in the center of the town square. Below the farmer's market is being set up for business. Children run through the market place playing tag and chase. In the park they climb structures in the shapes of animals and play tetherball, foursquare, hop scotch, and other games children love. Some of the children climb the oak tree to keep out of reach of their playmates. They are not aware of the tiny spiders above them.
Standing unsteadily on the tips of their claws each newly hatched spider raises his or her bottom in the air and spins a single shimmering line of silk in the wind. Teetering on the branch they wait for the shifting breezes to take them to their new homes, which is called ballooning. During these warm summer and spring day's humans see hundreds of spiders ballooning through in the air on long silk spun threads. Spiders are landing everywhere—on the telephone lines, across lawn furniture, in gardens, and from the rooftops. Ballooning spiders are everywhere looking for new homes.
Only two of Alma's three clawed feet are yanked free by the wind. She stays fixed to the oak as the last of her brothers and sisters sail by her. Alma searches the branches and wonders why her mother is nowhere to be found. She tries different ways to launch her body into space and balloon away like the rest of her siblings. But nothing works. Then with one tap of her spinneret she attaches her silk thread to the branch and leaps headlong into space, spinning more and more silk as she goes. Steady winds lift her outward and upward over the market. Alma stretches her hind leg behind her abdomen and snags hold of the silk thread that links her to the tree. She brings the thread to her face and clips it with the saw-toothed edge of her fang. But instead of ballooning up above the trees she plunges steeply toward the scorching asphalt walkways and streets below her. She has cut her silken thread too short. She spins more silk as fast as she can to lengthen her gossamer tail and stop her fall.
Pj mp O fpmy esmy oy s;; yp rmf om yjr ,off;r pg yjr ypem ,stlry [;svr. Gpt hppfmrdd dslr! She thinks to herself.
(Spiders instinctively think in Spiderese, their first language, which they do not have to learn. It comes with their genetic package. If you want to translate Alma's language turn to THE SPIDERESE LANGUAGE found in Optional Readings.)
Alma does not want her life to end in the middle of the market place! Slowly, as the more she spins a longer and longer silken tail she begins ballooning upward. Moving on invisible wings of the air she finds herself above the market place. This time she does not clip short her long silken tail, she lets it flow freely in the wind. Columns of hot air rising from the earth take her higher and higher. She is carried over town hall. Being a web spider she is nearsighted and cannot see the panoramic view. Alma is designed to thrive in the delicate world of vibrations where keen eyesight is not necessary. She is destined to live within the silk boundaries of the web she will spin wherever she lands.
Alma balloons above more children playing in the streets and farmers cultivating their crops when a draft of air slams her with a Thump onto the roof of Christ the King Presbyterian Church at the edge of town. The church roof is ablaze from the sun's rays.
Pivj! Sj! Ppj! Pe!
She wildly hops and skitters along the edge of the scorching rooftop.
From the ledge in the shade of the bell tower Jerrythespider, who has awakened from his long winter's nap, watches the young spider's painful arrival and run for her life. He grimaces and shakes his head at the sight of the poor creature.
It's a cruel world, my friend, he thinks. I guess that's why so many of us hatch because so few of us survive the perils of our youth.
Actually spiders do not have friends. Jerrythespider figuratively uses the phrase that he has heard humans say, but he really doesn't have a clue what a friend is.
Alma feels her body temperature rising toward the point of explosion. Should that happen she would shatter into thousands of fine dust-size particles that would be carried around the world by the wind and breathed in by humans and animals and plants. Fortune smiles on her, however, and she tumbles off the roof and dangles by a silk thread attached to a telephone wire located near the stained-glass window of Christ the King. Jerrythespider can't believe his eyes.
I wish there was something I could do he thinks.
Alma thinks, O eodj yjrtr esd dp,ryjomh upi vpi;f fp ypp!
Jerrythespider hears the tiny creature speaking to him in Spiderese, but he does not answer. He reasons why waste precious energy communicating with a spider that will not exist very much longer and will never grow up to be a fine meal for him.
Hanging for some time from the telephone wire attached to the church Alma cools in the afternoon breeze. She climbs the wire to the side of the church and crawls under the edge of the roof. She is alive and well—one very lucky youngster.
Waves of hunger relentlessly gnaw at Jerrythespider's stomach. The thought lingers his mind that the tiny morsel might be alive and just make would make a delicious snack. He wrestles with Reverend Ishaq's sermon about the Creator's commandment telling him, "Thou Shalt Not Kill" decides the pastor may have a point. Besides the trip across the roof would be too hazardous. He loses interest in the fledgling spider and crawls inside the bell tower.
Alma whiles away the day feeling vibrations coming from the children playing in the marketplace and the farmers working in the fields. Everything is new to her.
Ejsy fprd oy s;; ,rsm? She asks herself.
Although Jerrythespider hears Alma's question he is focused on scanning the bell tower for food and studying the web spiders. Alma's voice is pushed to the back of his mind. With night approaching he retreats to his silken envelop on the underside of the louver to rest for the evening.
Alma crawls back on the telephone wire and releases a single sticky silk line that floats in the light breeze blowing in from the ocean. The thread drifts above the stained-glass window and sticks to the edge of the roof. She moves back and forth on the single line layering more silk, making it a bridge, the top frame of her web. Traveling from one end of her bridge Alma spins another thread, which she allows to loosely hang below the top frame. She secures the thread to the other end of the top frame and moves down to the middle of the loose line. Her weight pulls the loose silk line into a triangle shape. Attaching another silk line to the downward point of the silk triangle, Alma allows gravity to pull her to a spot on the side of the church where she glues the line. Her work produces a large Y-shape structure that forms the first three spokes of her web. She adds more spokes, creating a silken orb web in front of the stained glass window.
Excerpted from The Battle of Top Hat Wood by Taylor Samuel Lyen, Denis Proulx. Copyright © 2014 Taylor Samuel Lyen. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Jerrythespider, 1,
Chapter 2 Alma, 9,
Chapter 3 Curiosity Almost Kills the Cat, 17,
Chapter 4 First Winter, 21,
Chapter 5 Silk Wrapped Flower Fly, 27,
Chapter 6 Ancient Visions, 33,
Chapter 7 Dr. Greenstone, I Presume, 45,
Chapter 8 Sutton Hoo Farmlands, 57,
Chapter 9 Rising of the Moon, 63,
Chapter 10 Michael's Nightmare, 71,
Chapter 11 Six Bells and All's Well, 77,
Science Explained, 85,
Character Descriptors, 98,
The Spiderese Language, 100,
About Spiders, 110,
Published Books, 112,
Books in the Works, 113,