DiTerlizzi, Tony, and Holly Black. The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide, Book. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2003. ISBN: 0689859368
Book one of this series begins with two letters. The first is from one of the author’s and the second is from the Grace children who have written to the authors about an old book they found in the attic of their new house. Before finding the book, strange things happened to the Grace children, Mallory, Jared, and Simon. They hear something scrambling inside the wall, some of their belongings go missing, and Mallory’s hair is even knotted to her brass headboard while she sleeps. After finding the book, Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You, strange things continue to happen and finally the children make a huge, but small discovery. This is only the beginning.
While this is the first book in the series, the story of all five books has been made into a movie.
All three of the Grace children have well developed characters, but Jared most of all is a believable protagonist that older elementary children can easily relate. He has been getting into trouble recently, is upset over his parent’s recent separation, and is blamed for the strange things happening in the house. Readers will be drawn into the fantasy as Mallory and Simon are also drawn in and convinced of the fantastical world they are beginning to experience.
There is plenty of suspense, mischief, and obstacles to overcome for Book One that will engage readers and the author’s descriptions of the new house and all its discoveries will invoke imagination. Although the theme is not fully developed in the first book, it provides an excellent introduction.
Almost as interesting as the fast-paced story, is the way the book looks. It is small in size and has irregularly cut pages. The beginning letters appear typewritten and hand-written, intricate illustrations add to the detail and a map of the Spiderwick Estate is included. The synopsis on the back of the book is concealed by a leaf with words from the book written on it: “Go away/close the book/put it down/do not look”.
Even as an adult, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and even though I have seen the movie, I look forward to reading books two through five.
PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY: “This snappy story…sets the scene for the next four books planned…Appealing characters, well-measured suspense and an inviting package will lure readers on to The Seeing Stone.”
KIRKUS “Readers who are too young to read Harry Potter independently will find these have just the right amount of menace laced with appealing humor and are blessed with crisp pacing and, of course, DiTerlizzi’s enticingly Gothic illustrations.”
*The author’s website, http://www.diterlizzi.com/
*Use the author’s site to explore and critique artwork from the books and more.
*Use bookmarked websites for students to explore further the subject of faeries.
*Children who enjoy this series may like the Lemony Snicket stories, http://www.lemonysnicket.com/books.cfm