Reviews /

Major and Mynah: Tarantula Terror

Authored by Karen Owen
Illustrated by Louise Forshaw
Published by Firefly Press Ltd

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Tarantula Terror is the third book in the Major and Mynah series featuring SPUD – the Super Perceptive Undercover Detectives. The story features an escaped spider that must be rescued by Callie, Grace, and Bo, a mynah bird, before she dies of cold, leaving her spiderlings orphans.

As someone with a confirmed dislike of spiders, I can identify with Callie’s mother’s fear of the creature but I did enjoy the story in the end and felt that young readers would learn some useful information about spiders from the girls’ adventure. The story is set in the school holidays and Callie’s friend Grace is staying over. A funfair is in town but they have to wait for Callie’s cousin Dylan to arrive at the weekend before they can visit. After days of feeling bored and impatient, Callie’s parents finally agree to take the girls and Grace’s brother on a trip to a wildlife reserve, where they spot the tarantula escaping.

In the first book in this series, Callie had discovered that her new hearing aids magically allowed her to understand and speak to Bo, a mynah bird they had adopted. So, having their own spy in the sky, the nine-year-olds send Bo off to investigate the fairground and spot the best rides. When he eventually returns, he is rather coy as to where and what he’s been up to. He gets downright evasive as the week goes on, and he seems very sleepy and off his food, too. This new mystery fills out the story and adds to the humour; I especially enjoyed how Callie’s hearing issue was used as a positive aspect of the story.

The story is full of excitement, suspense, and humour, with a little dash of magic, and brought down to earth by the realistic and amusing reactions of Callie’s parents. Louise Forshaw’s black and white illustrations add to the joy of the book, with her portrayals of the characters, fact files, and links between the text.

I was definitely relieved when Rosa (the spider) was recaptured and Bo’s adventures could be revealed. The story is a quick read that would respond well to being read aloud in class but would also earn a place in a school or class library. The author announces at the end of the book that a fourth story is due for publication in Spring 2025, so if young readers do enjoy this story, there are several others to get their teeth into.