Sophie's Masterpiece

Written By: Eileen Spinelli

Illustrated By: Jane Dyer

Before Reading

Explore Illustrations

Give your child a moment to look over the front cover and illustrations before beginning your read-through. Allow him/her to make any initial observations and predictions about the book. Ask questions like:

What do you notice on the front cover?

What do you predict will happen in this story?

What do you think Sophie’s masterpiece will be? Why do you think she is making it?

{Flip to an illustration} What do you think is happening in this picture?

Having a brief discussion about spiders and what they do will help set the stage for the story you are about to read. Ask, “What do you think about spiders? Are you scared of them? Why or why not? In what ways can they be helpful to us?” Also, discuss what your child knows about spider webs, how they are made, their intricacy and purpose.

As You Read

Vocabulary Building

Help expand your child’s vocabulary by encouraging him/her to stop at unfamiliar words as you read. Discover the meaning of these words using the illustrations and words surrounding them. Be sure to reinforce this learning by incorporating the words into your daily conversation. Examples of new words in Sophie’s Masterpiece include:




Making Connections

Encouraging your child to empathize with the main character is a great way to make the story more engaging and meaningful. Ask if a particular event in the story reminds him/her of an experience that they have had. For example, when the Cook shakes Sophie out of her slipper and calls her ugly, ask, “Has anyone ever hurt your feelings before? What happened? How did you feel? What did you do about it? How do you think Sophie feels in the story? What do you think she will do?”

After Reading

Summarize and Interpret

Gauge your child’s comprehension of the story by asking questions like:

What was your favorite part of the story? Why?

How did the landlady, tugboat captain, and the cook react when they saw Sophie? Why did they act that way?

How did the young woman react when she saw Sophie? What did Sophie and the young woman have in common?

What was Sophie’s Masterpiece? Why did she work so hard to create it?

Sophie was selfless, constantly trying to improve the lives of others with her creations like the curtains and the baby blanket. Ask your child, “Why do you think Sophie was always trying to spin things for other people? Why do you think she kept trying even after several of the people in the boarding house were unkind to her? What would have happened if she had just given up and left the boarding house after the landlady screamed at her?”

Activity: Yarn Spider Web

Adapted from Small for Big

Supplies: Yarn (optional: multicolored yarn), twigs, and small, plastic spiders

  1. Create your own masterpieces with this fun spider web activity!
  2. Tie 2 or 3 twigs together at their center with a very tight square knot.
  3. Begin wrapping the yarn around the sticks tightly. Try alternating figure 8 shapes around each stick as you go. You can also try different patterns on your webs to see which you like best. The multicolored yarn will give it a cool effect and will give each web a different design depending on which patterns you create.
  4. Continue up the sticks and reverse the loops to enhance the spider web look. For example, if you’ve been looping the yarn over each stick, try looping the yarn under the stick instead.
  5. Leave a few inches of the sticks exposed at the end and finish up with a knot on the backside and a piece of yarn hanging down. If you’d like, add some spiders onto your web and tie one ot the dangling piece of yarn while you’re at it.