Make a Paper Plate Spider: Gracie and Josh Review

Today is Friday – I have another children’s book to review to add to the  Perfect Picture Book resource list that author Susanna Leonard Hill is building on her blog. If you go to Susanna’s blog today, you will not find a picture book review because there is a 4th of July Holiday Mystery Writing Contest going on. There are two dozen fabulous stories linked up there…I hope you will visit and read them and return to vote for your favorite!

My picture book pick today is another treasure (just shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Award) by gifted author and anti-bullying advocate Susanne Gervay. I met her in Singapore at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content. When she heard I had not gotten a copy yet, she graciously and generously sent me one…with the adorable little Gracie doll…all the way from Australia!

Book Review and Activity: Gracie and Josh

Gracie and Josh

Written by Susanne Gervay

Illustrated by Serena Geddes

Publisher: Ford Street Publishers – Melbourne, Australia (2013)

Ages: 4 and up


Siblings, illness, family support, hope, positive attitude

Opening Lines:

“My name is Gracie. Today I’m a squiggly black spider.”


A young boy is critically ill and his sister tries to stay positive and upbeat to lift his spirits. In the hospital, the siblings entertain the other children in the ward by filming a movie. In the author’s words, ‘Gracie and Josh is a story about life and living – milking every drop from every minute we are given’.

Why  I like this book:

  • Great read-aloud for younger children…older kids will enjoy reading it themselves
  • Wonderful message of hope, positivity and family togetherness
  • Fun illustrations
  • I met the author, child advocate and RA of Australia’s SCBWI chapter, Susanne Gervay, at the 2013 Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore. Her presentation, Writing to Make a Better World, encouraged writers to share important messages that can make a difference.

How a parent can use this book:

  • Great read-aloud…Susanne uses the popular Eency, Weency Spider as part of her narrative.
  • Opportunity for discussion about illness, hospitalization and having a positive attitude
  • Even children can have a ‘bucket list’…ask your child what are the things he or she would love to do…in the next week, month, year.

Related Activities:


Book Review and Activity: Gracie and Josh

Photo courtesy: You will find complete instructions there (pretty simple…color the plate with black marker or crayons, glue on construction paper legs, eyes and mouth, punch a hole at the top and thread a piece of yarn or string through it)

For more information about Susanne:

For picture book writing tips from Susanne:

To connect with Susanne Gervay: Facebook, Twitter or her blog.

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever - Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (PomegranateKids, March 15, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, Feb 13, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, May 1, 2019); MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020); FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020) picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my young grandson.

Posted on July 5, 2013, in Craft Activity, Perfect Picture Book Friday and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. Stacy S. Jensen

    Looks like a great story on a difficult topic. Fun craft too.


  2. What a gorgeous review.


    • I’m so glad you liked it, Susanne! I posted it on several other sites (BloggyMoms, MomBloggersClub, SocialMoms) and also did a review on Goodreads. 🙂 As I said in my post, there aren’t many picture books out there that address this topic…this is a very valuable book!


  3. Catherine Johnson

    Lovely book and great craft. It’s raining here so I’ll get the kids doing that today. Thanks, Vivian


  4. I love this book! I have been searching for a book like this about a critical/chronic health issue handled in a positive manner. What a wonderful gift. And, I like your craft activity.


    • Pat…I KNEW you would LOVE this book! Susanne Gervay did an exceptional job in handling this very sensitive topic in a fun, child-friendly way. 🙂 She will be happy to read all of these positive comments.


  5. Made these spiders as a kid! So much fun. 🙂


  6. This looks like a great book! That Gracie looks like she must be a little spitfire! I’ll have to check this one out! Thanks!


  7. Excellent, Vivian! I’m getting this for my granddaughter. Grace is almost 10, but she has a wide assortment of all levels of children’s book where one of the characters is named Grace or Gracie. She’ll love this!


  8. Looks like an awesome book. Definitely a good read to get children to empathize with critically ill children.


    • Thanks, Reshama…it lifted my spirits when I read it. 🙂 I think it was a realistic picture of the emotions of the sister…she was sad and deeply moved by her brother’s plight…but knew it was important to be cheerful for him.


  9. Thanks so much for sharing this book. I am pinning it and sharing it in other ways and will be reaching out to the author too! My production company, Think Ten Media Group, is doing a free film camp for cancer patients at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, so this book seems like something we would love! Our camp is called Spotlight on Hope Film Camp and the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television is hosting it. We are very excited about it.


    • Oh my goodness, Jennifer…that is wonderful! What you are doing with Spotlight on Hope Film Camp is fantastic and I know the author will be thrilled to have her book there. Susanne Gervay is an amazing woman and an advocate for all children! Please do contact her…I’m excited and happy to be involved in this undertaking, even if it is only by connecting you with Susanne.:)


  10. Wow! I actually got a bit teary just reading your review. I think I’d have to practice before trying this as a read-aloud! 🙂 It sounds absolutely fantastic. I love light-hearted stories of deep love, care, and sacrifice, and this sounds like a winner on all counts. Thank you so much for sharing it and thanks for linking up to Booknificent Thursday! Hope to see you again this week!
    Tina from


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