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The Snow Spider by Jenny Nimmo

The Snow Spider Story Part One

Our story begins with Gwyn, a young boy who lives in a remote hill farm in Wales. Gwyn is tending the sheep on the hills whilst looking up at the early morning sky still full of stars. It should be happy occasion, but Gwyn's ninth birthday is not happy at all. Gwyn returns to the house and goes into the kitchen. He knows that he still has to feed the chickens and now he learns that his father was looking for him as well. He asks his mum if she has ever heard the stars singing. She replies that she has not. He begins setting the table for breakfast. He looks at the picture of Bethan, his sister who vanished on the mountain four years ago. She vanished on Gwyn's birthday and so the occasion is not a happy one for the family. His father blames Gwyn for the loss as Bethan as she was looking for Gwyn's pet black ewe when she vanished.

Gwyn's Grandmother (Nain is her preferred name) arrives at the house, to wish him a happy birthday. She presents him with his gift wrapped in paper. Inside the gifts are:

A piece of seaweed

A yellow scarf

A tin whistle

A twisted metal broach

and a small broken horse

A little confused, Gwyn stares at them for a while, and then thanks his Grandmother.

"Time to find out if you are a magician, Gwydion Gwyn

Time to remember your ancestors,

Math, Lord of Gwynedd, Gwydion and Gilfaethwy", she says

Gwyn does not know what she is talking about. He asks who ? Nain replies,

"The magicians, boy! They lived here,

in these mountains, maybe a thousand years ago

and they could do anything, they wanted to,

turn men into eagles and soldiers into dust,

they could also make dreams come true

and so perhaps could you."

Gwyn is still obviously confused but Nain does not stop to further explain. On leaving the house she tells him to give the gifts to the wind, one by one and he will see. He takes his gifts up to his bedroom but he is not sure what she is talking about. His father shouts up a reminder that it is Saturday and he still has to feed the chickens.

Nain gives Gwyn his  birthday presents Mum in Gwyn's bedroom They both examine what Nain left Gwyn

Gwyn's mum has not forgotten it was his birthday. She brings him his gift of a wrist watch wrapped in green paper with golden stars on it. Gwyn is overjoyed as it shows the phases of the moon on the dial. They both then look at the gifts that Nain has left Gwyn. Mum has also done Gwyn's chores including feeding the chickens, so he has no work to do. She then leaves the bedroom and goes to prepare for Gwyn's birthday party. Gwyn then stares out of the window and starts daydreaming about his sister's whereabouts.

The party Mum has prepared a splendid table Dad arrives

At the party, Nain brings Gwyn some other presents and puts some music on. Gwyn's mum has prepared a huge spread of food and party items for the guests. The boys quickly tuck in and begin eating all the food. All is going well, everyone is having a wonderful time until Gwyn's father opens the door. From the very second he enters, the room falls silent and he then reminds everyone about Bethan, his daughter who vanished on the mountain four years ago this very day. He complains of chairs on the floor and candles burning for no reason. Gwyn's mother reminds Ivor (father) that she was her daughter too. The party is ruined and hence mum takes the boys away. Gwyn rushes off to his bedroom, whilst Nain scolds Gwyn's father for being so miserable. He is having none of it though and reminds her what happened four years ago. Gwyn's mother explains that they have had enough mourning and that their son should celebrate his birthday. His father shouts that the blame for Bethan's disappearance lies with Gwyn - he was responsible for Bethan going out into the storm in the first place. He gives a pretty good impression that given the choice he would have chosen Gwyn to be the one lost in exchange for Bethan being safe.

He is not happy at all Gwyn ends up alone again Nain reminds him of the gifts

Before Nain leaves she calls up to Gwyn's bedroom and reminds him to give the gifts to the wind. She tells him to remember the old magicians and that once in seven generations, the power returns. The next morning, his mother tells him a little of the magicians and of a ship made of seaweed. The day is very windy and so Gwyn decides to go up the mountain and give a gift to the wind. Gwyn goes upstairs into his bedroom opens up the drawer where the gifts are kept. One of them (the metal broach) should have been under the scarf but is now sitting proudly on top. It starts to glow yellow and then turns into a spider before turning back again into metal. He realises that he must do as Nain wishes and so heads up the mountain side. Once there he throws the metal broach into the air and then shouts " Math, Lord of Gwynedd, Gwydion and Gilfaethwy."

One of the gifts begins to glow It then transforms into a spider Gwyn chooses gift for the wind

He then shouts at the wind He throws it in the air It then begins to snow

It then begins to snow and so he returns to the house. Back at the house, he sees a bright light on his shoulder and quickly puts it into his pocket before disappearing upstairs. In his bedroom, he takes the light out of his pocket and sees that it is a small silver spider. The spider is called Arianwen - the Snow Spider. He puts it in the drawer and then has to go down for tea.

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The Snow Spider
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