Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze is written by Elizabeth Enright. It was first published in 1951 by Henry Holt and I’m still reading the 1997 Puffin version. It is the fourth and last book in the Melendy family quartet. Learn more about Enright here.
“Nothing is the same for Randy and Oliver after their sister and brothers go away to boarding school. The days stretch on, with nothing to do except think about how much fun they used to have. Then, one morning, a light blue envelope comes in the mail. It’s for Randy and Oliver, and it contains the first clue in what turns out to be the most unexpected mystery ever!”
What I Liked:
Probably my favorite Melendy book, simply because of the clues. I love treasure hunt books! And Randy and Oliver solve them with just the right mix of sheer dumb luck and skill that makes it seem like an actual, real-life hunt (again, I love Enright’s ability to make everything seem quite realistic). Enright also continues to include characters’ stories, which is what helps make her books so good.
One thing I never noticed is that this book was published seven years after the previous Melendy book, which probably means that Then There Were Five was meant to be the last one, but popular demand led Enright to write another. Or it took her seven years to come up with all those riddles (which were quite wonderful, by the way. Not dumbed-down or silly ones, but proper, actual riddles for a clue hunt!).
I also enjoy the fact that Enright is not afraid of aging her characters. Each book has had them getting older (usually by a year or a few months), and this one continues that, although I don’t believe it says how long it’s been, unlike the others (usually she mentions their age or the month so you know how long it’s been; this one she does not). I also like the fact that even the cover illustrations (of the 1997 Puffin versions) show them getting older with each book.
What I Didn’t Like:
Recommended Age Range: 10+
Genre: Children’s, Mystery, Realistic
Named for a jewel, named for a bird,
Asleep for threescore years and ten,
First find my resting place, and then,
Stepping toward sunrise, find the third
Strange clue that marks the secret way
To rare reward and a fair summer day.
“A summer day!” exclaimed Oliver. “Gosh! Does that mean we’re never going to get to the end of this thing till summer? Why it’s only just begun to be October now!”
“I know,” said Randy slowly. “But I wonder—I think it’s been invented, this game or search or whatever it is, by somebody who understands the way we feel with all the others gone; someone who wants to give us something pleasant to think about instead of just groaning around the house and missing them all the time. I’m glad it’s going to last a long time.”
“Dave! Dave! Can you get me that nest? Please can you? Please? I just have to have it!”
“First tell me why?” demanded Dave, not unreasonably, and Oliver was forced to launch into the same lame explanations that he and Randy had given to Cuffy and Mr. Titus and the others.
“Oh, so that’s why they were so interested in that nest that day—” Dave stopped short.
“Who? Who was interested in it?” Oliver implored, but Dave just shook his head.
“Listen, brother, if it’s a secret I’m not going to spoil it. Here Daphne, you hold Mitch. We’ll have to get up to that thing somehow, and a ladder won’t do; there’s nothing to lean it against; the branch stretches out from the trunk too far. We’ll try a table.”
Spiderweb for Two is my favorite Melendy book in the quartet. It’s quite different from the others, but not so much as to seem completely distant from the rest of the series. It’s still got the charm, the humor, and the inner stories that make Enright’s style so distinctive and which keeps me coming back to these books over and over. Seriously, I’ve read them maybe six or seven times each.
You can buy this book here: Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze