Spiders Cast in New Light in Web Tale

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Two alumni from the University of Worcester have joined forces to produce a new illustrated children’s e-book aimed at portraying spiders in a more positive light.

The idea for The Spider that Came in from the Cold, came after Jane McGee took a group of her A-level Psychology students on a spider phobia workshop.

“I was teaching phobias and wanted students to see an example of how phobias can be treated in a real-world setting,” said Jane, who is Subject Leader for Psychology at Old Swinford Hospital School in Stourbridge. “I was amazed that students who were initially afraid of spiders all volunteered up to handle the Chilean Rose Tarantula at the end of the session. This shows that familiarity can reduce fears and even increase a liking of spiders.”

Jane, who completed her PhD at the University of Worcester, said spiders were given a bad press in the UK, with many children’s stories and films portraying them as terrifying creatures. Whereas, in other cultures, spiders are considered to be symbols of good fortune.

“I thought it was time that things changed in the UK,” she said. “The majority of spiders are harmless; in fact, there is more chance of getting bitten by a cute kitten than a spider.”

Jane decided to put pen to paper and author a story for children aged 5-7 years, in the hope it would encourage them to see spiders in a more favourable light.

The story features five main spider characters and is intended as the first in a series of children’s books, each focusing on one of the five characters.

When it came to thinking about illustrating the book, Jane contacted University of Worcester Illustration lecturer Piet Grobler, who put her in contact with former student Marisa Lewis.

Marisa, who studied her undergraduate and Masters degrees at the University, is already making a name for herself in the world of children’s illustrations, having been commissioned to work on several projects already.

“I was delighted to get involved in illustrating this book,” said Marisa. “I thought it was a really different idea to other projects I had worked on.”

The Spider that Came in from the Cold is available online at

Jane completed her PhD at the University in 2011. Meanwhile, Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in Illustration in 2011 and her Masters degree in Creative Digital Media in 2012.

For information on courses at University of Worcester visit or for application enquiries telephone 01905 855111 or email