The Field Guide (Spiderwick Chronicles Series #1)

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Overview

When their great-aunt Lucinda Spiderwick is sent off to an asylum, the Grace kids -- twins Jared and Simon and their older sister, Mallory -- move into her creepy old mansion with their mother. Strange goings-on lead them to an old book filled with pictures of fanstastic creatures. It holds clues to recent odd events, and the key to an even bigger mystery: the disappearance of the children's great-uncle Arthur Spiderwick generations before....

When the Grace children...

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Overview

When their great-aunt Lucinda Spiderwick is sent off to an asylum, the Grace kids -- twins Jared and Simon and their older sister, Mallory -- move into her creepy old mansion with their mother. Strange goings-on lead them to an old book filled with pictures of fanstastic creatures. It holds clues to recent odd events, and the key to an even bigger mystery: the disappearance of the children's great-uncle Arthur Spiderwick generations before....

When the Grace children go to stay at their Great Aunt Lucinda's worn Victorian house, they discover a field guide to fairies and other creatures and begin to have some unusual experiences.

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  • Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
    Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Three curious kids discover a world of brownies, fairies, and other fantastic creatures in this ultra-enchanting launch to Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black's Spiderwick Chronicles.

When the three Grace children -- Mallory, Jared, and Simon -- and their mom move into Aunt Lucinda's old house, readers know there's magic afoot. The kids uncover a nest of assembled junk, and on a visit to the secret library via the dumbwaiter, Jared finds a note describing "my secret to all mankind." After a few mysterious pranks that get blamed on Jared, the boy finally digs up the real prize: Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You. Fortunately enough, the kids meet one of the critters listed in the guide -- a brownie named Thimbletack -- who makes it all "real" and helps provide the book's suspenseful conclusion: "'Throw the book away, toss it in a fire. If you do not heed, you will draw their ire.'"

From the book's bewitching cover to the Grace kids' letter to the authors, Book 1: The Field Guide is a fast-paced beginning to an exciting new series. Fans of Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket, or Diana Wynne Jones will be hooked on Spiderwick, and they'll thirst for more. DiTerlizzi and Black have done it right. Matt Warner

Publishers Weekly
This snappy story, the inaugural title in The Spiderwick Chronicles, sets the scene for the next four books planned. The authors introduce the three Grace siblings-13-year-old Mallory and nine-year-old twins Jared and Simon-and their recently divorced mother, who move into their great-aunt's dilapidated Victorian house. The paper-over-board volume opens to a Victorian-style design; a full-page, framed pen-and-ink scene appears opposite each chapter opening (with clever headings such as "In Which There Are Answers, Though Not Necessarily to the Right Questions"). After Jared hears scuttling inside the walls, Mallory pokes a broom through a kitchen wall and discovers a "nest" filled with unusual trinkets-a doll's head, tiny lead soldiers, bits of tattered fabric-plus one of her own fencing medals. Jared encounters more mystery when a dumbwaiter carries him to a doorless upstairs library. Here he spies a yellowing riddle in rhyme (reproduced on a glossy insert), which leads him to the attic and ultimately to Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You-a handbook to the faerie realm. Often in trouble, Jared gets the blame for some odd occurrences (e.g., Mallory awakens to find her hair tied in knots around her headboard, Simon's tadpoles are frozen into ice cubes, etc.). Appealing characters, well-measured suspense and an inviting package will lure readers on to The Seeing Stone (-85937-6), due the same month. Youngsters may well find themselves glancing over their shoulders as they eagerly follow the events. Ages 6-10. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The Field Guide is Book 1 in a new series of books about twins, Jared and Simon Grace, who along with their sister, Mallory, and their mom move into the rundown Spiderwick Estate of their great-aunt Lucinda after their father leaves them. Upon seeing the shabby old Victorian, Mom says it is just like she remembers it. "Only crappier," adds Mallory. That night, strange things happen which lead Jared, Simon, and Mallory to believe they are being tormented by fairies and brownies. The children find a secret room, an odd book (which turns out to be a field guide to fairies), and eventually a little house brownie named Thimbletack who is about the size of a pencil and talks in rhyme. Readers who like the Unfortunate Events series will probably enjoy this series—"The Spiderwick Chronicles." Detailed illustrations help bring the strange world of Spiderwick alive. Short paragraphs and "cliffhanger" chapters make the book especially unintimidating and intriguing for young readers. 2003, Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing,
— Suzanne Lieurance
VOYA
Nine-year-old Jared Grace would have been kicked out of school for breaking that kid's nose, but his family was already moving away. Since their father left them, Jared, his twin brother, Simon, and their thirteen-year-old sister, Mallory, have no choice but to move with their mother to Spiderwick Estate, her elderly Aunt Lucinda's wretchedly decayed mansion. Jared is the one who first discovers the supernatural elements lingering in the old place, but who will believe him after all the trouble he has been causing? Gradually, all three children are pulled into the adventures, which involve boggarts, goblins, griffins, and other assorted mystical beings. Field Guide is the first volume of "The Spiderwick Chronicles". It establishes the family dynamics and introduces the reader to the possibilities of otherworldly beings. It is not necessary to read the first volume before the second, because everything is quickly recapped at the start of the second book. Seeing Stone is less subtle in tone, as the children begin an active battle against goblins, develop an affiliation with a griffin, and outwit a troll. The real magic of this series, however, is in the illustrations. Nearly every second page is embellished with the ink drawings of DiTerlizzi, evoking a delicious classical sense in this modern fantasy. Black, author of Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale (Simon & Schuster, 2002/VOYA October 2002), keeps the dialogue snappy and the children's personalities distinct. The series' intended audience seems to be the Lemony Snicket crowd, a little younger than the general young adult market. Nevertheless, the series will surely develop a devoted following, particularly with avid fantasy readers. Illus.VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2003, Simon & Schuster, 107p. PLB
— Diane Emge
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-As this new series begins, Jared, Simon, and Mallory Grace move with their mother into their Great-Aunt Lucinda's old, decaying house, where they discover a secret room. A poetic clue leads Jared to a book that offers detailed information about the different types of magical creatures that live in our world. After the inadvertent destruction of the home and treasures of the boggart who inhabits the room leads to increasingly more malicious tricks, Jared is blamed. With the help of the Field Guide, the boy realizes that the small creature is at fault and is able to pacify him. Thimbletack warns Jared and his siblings that reading the book will only lead to trouble, which is what comes to pass in the second volume, when Simon is kidnapped by goblins, leaving Jared and Mallory to come to his rescue. Details like Thimbletack's tiny house, Jared's use of a dumbwaiter to discover the hidden room, and the fights against the goblins will catch readers' attention. However, the Grace children stand out only for surface characteristics like Simon's many pets and Mallory's passion for fencing. Adult characters remain offstage or exist only to discipline and disbelieve the children. The many text-enhancing black-and-white drawings give the "Spiderwick Chronicles" a look that resembles Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" (HarperCollins), and the presentation as based on the Grace children's factual story as told to the authors gives it a similar tone, which should add to the books' appeal. While the characters' lack of depth detracts from the quality of these titles, the fast, movielike pace will grab young readers.-Beth L. Meister, Yeshiva of Central Queens, Flushing, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Unexplained things are happening in the eerie Victorian heap that is new home to the Grace family. Rustlings in the decrepit walls lead the three children, to discover and destroy the nest of a Brownie and to locate, in Arthur Spiderwick's secret library, his Field Guide to the Fantastical World, which details the habits of faeries. The infuriated Brownie exacts retribution in hateful ways: knotting Mallory's long hair to her headboard and freezing animal-loving Simon's tadpoles into ice cubes. The children mollify the Brownie by building him another home, but against his warnings that harm will result, keep the Field Guide. Book 2 (The Seeing Stone, 0-689-95937-6) steps up the peril: the unheeded warnings lead to Simon's kidnapping by a roving gang of goblins. His siblings gain The Sight by means of a small stone lens (and efficacious goblin spit rubbed into the eyes) and succeed in rescuing him. Cleverly marketed as too dangerous to read, handsomely designed, and extravagantly illustrated this packs quite a punch. 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. (Fiction. 7-11) First printing of 50,000; $150,000 ad/promo; film rights to Paramount/Nickelodeon
From the Publisher
"With their evocative gothic-style pencil drawings and color illustrations, rhyming riddles, supernatural lore, and well-drawn characters, these books read like old-fashioned ripping yarns." — New York Times Book Review

"The books wallow in their dusty Olde Worlde charm: Faeries! Dumbwaiters! Attics! But then, reading has an old-fashioned charm too." — Time magazine

"Appealing characters, well-measured suspense and an inviting package will lure readers...younsgters may well find themselves glancing over their shoulders." — Publishers Weekly, starred review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416950172
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 1/1/2008
  • Series: Spiderwick Chronicles Series , #1
  • Edition description: Movie Tie-In Edition
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 600L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.60 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Holly Black

Holly Black is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. She has been a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award, a finalist for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of both an Andre Norton Award and a Newbery Honor. She lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret door. Visit her at BlackHolly.com.

Tony DiTerlizzi is a New York Times bestselling author and illustrator who has been creating books with Simon & Schuster for more than a decade. From his fanciful picture books like Jimmy Zangwow’s Out-of-this-World Moon Pie Adventure, Adventure of Meno (with his wife, Angela), and The Spider & The Fly (a Caldecott Honor book), to chapter books like Kenny and The Dragon and The Search for WondLa, Tony always imbues his stories with a rich imagination. His middle grade series, The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Holly Black), has sold millions of copies, been adapted into a feature film, and has been translated in more than thirty countries. You can visit him at DiTerlizzi.com.

Tony DiTerlizzi is a New York Times bestselling author and illustrator who has been creating books with Simon & Schuster for more than a decade. From his fanciful picture books like Jimmy Zangwow’s Out-of-this-World Moon Pie Adventure, Adventure of Meno (with his wife, Angela), and The Spider & The Fly (a Caldecott Honor book), to chapter books like Kenny and The Dragon and The Search for WondLa, Tony always imbues his stories with a rich imagination. His middle grade series, The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Holly Black), has sold millions of copies, been adapted into a feature film, and has been translated in more than thirty countries. You can visit him at DiTerlizzi.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: In Which the Grace Children Get Aquainted with Their New Home

If someone had asked Jared Grace what jobs his brother and sister would have when they grew up, he would have had no trouble replying. He would have said that his brother, Simon, would be either a veterinarian or a lion tamer. He would have said that his sister, Mallory, would either be an Olympic fencer or in jail for stabbing someone with a sword. But he couldn't say what job he would grow up to have. Not that anyone asked him. Not that anyone asked his opinion on anything at all.

The new house, for instance. Jared Grace looked up at it and squinted. Maybe it would look better blurry.

"It's a shack," Mallory said, getting out of the station wagon.

It wasn't really, though. It was more like a dozen shacks had been piled on top of one another. There were several chimneys, and the whole thing was topped off by a strip of iron fence sitting on the roof like a particularly garish hat.

"It's not so bad," their mother said, with a smile that looked only slightly forced. "It's Victorian."

Simon, Jared's identical twin, didn't look upset. He was probably thinking of all the animals he could have now. Actually, considering what he'd packed into their tiny bedroom in New York, Jared figured it would take a lot of rabbits and hedgehogs and whatever else was out here to satisfy Simon.

"Come on, Jared," Simon called. Jared realized that they had all crossed to the front steps and he was alone on the lawn, staring at the house.

The doors were a faded gray, worn with age. The only traces of paint were an indeterminate cream, stuck deep in crevices and around the hinges. A rusted ram's-head door knocker hung from a single, heavy nail at its center.

Their mother fit a jagged key into the lock, turned it, and shoved hard with her shoulder. The door opened into a dim hallway. The only window was halfway up the stairs, and its stained glass panes gave the walls an eerie, reddish glow.

"It's just like I remember," she said, smiling.

"Only crappier," said Mallory.

Their mother sighed but didn't otherwise respond.

The hallway led into a dining room. A long table with faded water spots was the only piece of furniture. The plaster ceiling was cracked in places and a chandelier hung from frayed wires.

"Why don't you three start bringing things in from the car?" their mother said.

"Into here?" Jared asked.

"Yes, into here." Their mother put down her suitcase on the table, ignoring the eruption of dust. "If your great-aunt Lucinda hadn't let us stay, I don't know where we would have gone. We should be grateful."

None of them said anything. Try as he might, Jared didn't feel anything close to grateful. Ever since their dad moved out, everything had gone bad. He'd messed up at school, and the fading bruise over his left eye wouldn't let him forget it. But this place — this place was the worst yet.

"Jared," his mother said as he turned to follow Simon out to unload the car.

"What?"

His mother waited until the other two were down the hall before she spoke. "This is a chance to start over...for all of us. Okay?"

Jared nodded grudgingly. He didn't need her to say the rest of it — that the only reason he hadn't gotten kicked out of school was because they were moving anyway. Another reason he was supposed to be grateful. Only he wasn't.

Outside, Mallory had stacked two suitcases on top of a steamer trunk. "I heard she's starving herself to death."

"Aunt Lucinda? She's just old," said Simon. "Old and crazy."

But Mallory shook her head. "I heard Mom on the phone. She was telling Uncle Terrence that Aunt Lucy thinks little men bring her food."

"What do you expect? She's in a nuthouse," Jared said.

Mallory went on like she hadn't heard him. "She told the doctors the food she got was better than anything they'd ever taste."

"You're making that up." Simon crawled into the backseat and opened one of the suitcases.

Mallory shrugged. "If she dies, this place is going to get inherited by someone, and we're going to have to move again."

"Maybe we can go back to the city," Jared said.

"Fat chance," said Simon. He took out a wad of tube socks. "Oh, no! Jeffrey and Lemondrop chewed their way loose!"

"Mom told you not to bring the mice," Mallory said. "She said you could have normal animals now."

"If I let them go, they'd get stuck in a glue trap or something," said Simon, turning a sock inside out, one finger sticking out a hole. "Besides, you brought all your fencing junk!"

"It's not junk," Mallory growled. "And it's not alive."

"Shut up!" Jared took a step toward his sister.

"Just because you've got one black eye doesn't mean I can't give you another one." Mallory flipped her ponytail as she turned toward him. She shoved a heavy suitcase into his hands. "Go ahead and carry that if you're so tough."

Even though Jared knew he might be bigger and stronger than her someday — when she wasn't thirteen and he wasn't nine — it was hard to picture.

Jared managed to lug the suitcase inside the door before he dropped it. He figured he could drag it the rest of the way if he had to and no one would be the wiser. Alone in the hallway of the house, however, Jared no longer remembered how to get to the dining room. Two different hallways split off this one, winding deep into the middle of the house.

"Mom?" Although he'd meant to call out loudly, his voice sounded very soft, even to himself.

No answer. He took a tentative step and then another, until the creak of a board under his feet stopped him.

Just as he paused, something inside the wall rustled. He could hear it scrabbling upward, until the sound disappeared past the ceiling. His heart beat hard against his chest.

It's probably just a squirrel, he told himself. After all, the house looked like it was falling apart. Anything could be living inside; they'd be lucky if there wasn't a bear in the basement and birds in all the heating ducts. That was, if the place even had heat.

"Mom?" he said again, even more faintly.

Then the door behind him opened and Simon came in, carrying mason jars with two bug-eyed gray mice in them. Mallory was right behind him, scowling.

"I heard something," Jared said. "In the wall."

"What?" Simon asked.

"I don't know...." Jared didn't want to admit that for a moment he'd thought it was a ghost. "Probably a squirrel."

Simon looked at the wall with interest. Brocaded gold wallpaper hung limply, peeling and pocking in places. "You think so? In the house? I always wanted a squirrel."

No one seemed to think that something in the walls was anything to worry about, so Jared didn't say anything more about it. But as he carried the suitcase to the dining room, Jared couldn't help thinking about their tiny apartment in New York and their family before the divorce. He wished this was some kind of gimmicky vacation and not real life.

Copyright © 2003 by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter


Chapter One: In Which the Grace Children Get Aquainted with Their New Home


If someone had asked Jared Grace what jobs his brother and sister would have when they grew up, he would have had no trouble replying. He would have said that his brother, Simon, would be either a veterinarian or a lion tamer. He would have said that his sister, Mallory, would either be an Olympic fencer or in jail for stabbing someone with a sword. But he couldn't say what job he would grow up to have. Not that anyone asked him. Not that anyone asked his opinion on anything at all.

The new house, for instance. Jared Grace looked up at it and squinted. Maybe it would look better blurry.

"It's a shack," Mallory said, getting out of the station wagon.

It wasn't really, though. It was more like a dozen shacks had been piled on top of one another. There were several chimneys, and the whole thing was topped off by a strip of iron fence sitting on the roof like a particularly garish hat.

"It's not so bad," their mother said, with a smile that looked only slightly forced. "It's Victorian."

Simon, Jared's identical twin, didn't look upset. He was probably thinking of all the animals he could have now. Actually, considering what he'd packed into their tiny bedroom in New York, Jared figured it would take a lot of rabbits and hedgehogs and whatever else was out here to satisfy Simon.

"Come on, Jared," Simon called. Jared realized that they had all crossed to the front steps and he was alone on the lawn, staring at the house.

The doors were a faded gray, worn with age. The only traces of paint were an indeterminate cream, stuck deep in crevices and around the hinges. A rusted ram's-head door knocker hung from a single, heavy nail at its center.

Their mother fit a jagged key into the lock, turned it, and shoved hard with her shoulder. The door opened into a dim hallway. The only window was halfway up the stairs, and its stained glass panes gave the walls an eerie, reddish glow.

"It's just like I remember," she said, smiling.

"Only crappier," said Mallory.

Their mother sighed but didn't otherwise respond.

The hallway led into a dining room. A long table with faded water spots was the only piece of furniture. The plaster ceiling was cracked in places and a chandelier hung from frayed wires.

"Why don't you three start bringing things in from the car?" their mother said.

"Into here?" Jared asked.

"Yes, into here." Their mother put down her suitcase on the table, ignoring the eruption of dust. "If your great-aunt Lucinda hadn't let us stay, I don't know where we would have gone. We should be grateful."

None of them said anything. Try as he might, Jared didn't feel anything close to grateful. Ever since their dad moved out, everything had gone bad. He'd messed up at school, and the fading bruise over his left eye wouldn't let him forget it. But this place -- this place was the worst yet.

"Jared," his mother said as he turned to follow Simon out to unload the car.

"What?"

His mother waited until the other two were down the hall before she spoke. "This is a chance to start over...for all of us. Okay?"

Jared nodded grudgingly. He didn't need her to say the rest of it -- that the only reason he hadn't gotten kicked out of school was because they were moving anyway. Another reason he was supposed to be grateful. Only he wasn't.


Outside, Mallory had stacked two suitcases on top of a steamer trunk. "I heard she's starving herself to death."

"Aunt Lucinda? She's just old," said Simon. "Old and crazy."

But Mallory shook her head. "I heard Mom on the phone. She was telling Uncle Terrence that Aunt Lucy thinks little men bring her food."

"What do you expect? She's in a nuthouse," Jared said.

Mallory went on like she hadn't heard him. "She told the doctors the food she got was better than anything they'd ever taste."

"You're making that up." Simon crawled into the backseat and opened one of the suitcases.

Mallory shrugged. "If she dies, this place is going to get inherited by someone, and we're going to have to move again."

"Maybe we can go back to the city," Jared said.

"Fat chance," said Simon. He took out a wad of tube socks. "Oh, no! Jeffrey and Lemondrop chewed their way loose!"

"Mom told you not to bring the mice," Mallory said. "She said you could have normal animals now."

"If I let them go, they'd get stuck in a glue trap or something," said Simon, turning a sock inside out, one finger sticking out a hole. "Besides, you brought all your fencing junk!"

"It's not junk," Mallory growled. "And it's not alive."

"Shut up!" Jared took a step toward his sister.

"Just because you've got one black eye doesn't mean I can't give you another one." Mallory flipped her ponytail as she turned toward him. She shoved a heavy suitcase into his hands. "Go ahead and carry that if you're so tough."

Even though Jared knew he might be bigger and stronger than her someday -- when she wasn't thirteen and he wasn't nine -- it was hard to picture.

Jared managed to lug the suitcase inside the door before he dropped it. He figured he could drag it the rest of the way if he had to and no one would be the wiser. Alone in the hallway of the house, however, Jared no longer remembered how to get to the dining room. Two different hallways split off this one, winding deep into the middle of the house.

"Mom?" Although he'd meant to call out loudly, his voice sounded very soft, even to himself.

No answer. He took a tentative step and then another, until the creak of a board under his feet stopped him.

Just as he paused, something inside the wall rustled. He could hear it scrabbling upward, until the sound disappeared past the ceiling. His heart beat hard against his chest.

It's probably just a squirrel, he told himself. After all, the house looked like it was falling apart. Anything could be living inside; they'd be lucky if there wasn't a bear in the basement and birds in all the heating ducts. That was, if the place even had heat.

"Mom?" he said again, even more faintly.

Then the door behind him opened and Simon came in, carrying mason jars with two bug-eyed gray mice in them. Mallory was right behind him, scowling.

"I heard something," Jared said. "In the wall."

"What?" Simon asked.

"I don't know...." Jared didn't want to admit that for a moment he'd thought it was a ghost. "Probably a squirrel."

Simon looked at the wall with interest. Brocaded gold wallpaper hung limply, peeling and pocking in places. "You think so? In the house? I always wanted a squirrel."

No one seemed to think that something in the walls was anything to worry about, so Jared didn't say anything more about it. But as he carried the suitcase to the dining room, Jared couldn't help thinking about their tiny apartment in New York and their family before the divorce. He wished this was some kind of gimmicky vacation and not real life.


Copyright © 2003 by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 75 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2008

    i LOVE this series!!!!

    These books arre soooo great! if you like adventuer books then you'll love these books. These books are filled with excitement ,adventure, and fun! I am very picky about books i could never find agood book. It always taes me FOREEVER to find a book but one day i decided to try this book. By the fisrt 3 or 4 pages i loved it. i have resad the whole series . they were great!! Now i am reading beyond the spiderwick chronicals. I just finished reading the first one. i cant wait untill the second one is realesed. they are so addicting.once you pick it up you cant put it down.i never use to like reading untill i read these books . now i love reading and cant wait to read every night.i read 2 books every week sometimes even 3!!!!also, i carry my book called 'Arther Spiderwicks Field Guide to the fantastical world around you' everywhere.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2008

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