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
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.
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,
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
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.
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
"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