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The Spiderwick Chronicles

Fantasy Series for Ages 7 and Up

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Cover Art of The Spiderwick Chronicles Book 1 - Children's Book Series of Fantasy Chapter Books

The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1: The Field Guide

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
The Spiderwick Chronicles is a popular children’s book series written by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. The fantasy stories revolve around the three Grace children and their frightening experiences with faeiries when they move into an old Victorian home.

The Spiderwick Chronicles Series

According to a letter from co-author Holly Black that appears at the beginning of each of The Spiderwick Chronicles series, it all started when she and Tony DiTerlizzi were at a bookstore book signing and were given a letter that had been left for them. The letter was from the Grace children, and it mentioned a book that “tells people how to identify faeries and how to protect themselves.” The letter went on to say, “We just want people to know about this. The stuff that has happened to us could happen to anyone.” A few days later, according to Black, she and DiTerlizzi met the Grace children, and the story the children told them became The Spiderwick Chronicles.

After their parents’ divorce, the Grace children and their mother move into the ramshackle Victorian home previously occupied by their great-aunt Lucinda. The three children, thirteen-year-old Mallory and her nine-year-old twin brothers, Jared and Simon, are still adjusting to their parents’ divorce and are not happy with their new home. While Mallory has her fencing to keep her occupied and Simon his menagerie of animals to care for, Jared is angry and at loose ends.

Almost immediately, odd things begin to happen, beginning with strange sounds in the walls, and leading to the discovery of the small unexpected and unfriendly other occupants of the house and area. Written in the third person, the books emphasize Jared’s point of view. It’s poor Jared who tends to get blamed for all of the unpleasant things that happen, thanks t the faeries. He finds a secret room and an amazing book Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You, a book about identifying and protecting yourself from faeries.

While Book 1 is quite mild and provides a basic introduction to the human characters and the threat from the fantastical creatures, the action and suspense is ratcheted up in the remaining books. The Grace children come in conflict with goblins, a shape-shifting ogre, dwarves, elves, and other frightening characters. The series ends with the kidnapping of Mrs. Grace and her children’s desperate, and ultimately successful, attempt to rescue her.

The Appeal of The Spiderwick Chronicles

The short length of these children’s novels - about 100 pages - the uncomplicated, yet suspenseful and scary (but not too scary) fantasy stories, the engaging main characters, the attractive design of the small hardbound books and the full-page pen and ink illustrations in every chapter, make the books particularly appealing to younger children who are independent readers or who enjoy having an adult read to them.

The Books of The Spiderwick Chronicles

  • The Spiderwick Chronicles : The Field Guide, Book One - Compare prices. (ISBN: 9780689859366)
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles : The Seeing Stone, Book Two - Compare prices. (ISBN: 9780689859373)
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles : Lucinda's Secret, Book Three - Compare prices. (ISBN: 9780689859380)
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles : The Ironwood Tree, Book Four - Compare prices. (ISBN: 9780689859397)
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles : The Wrath of Mulgarath, Book Five - Compare prices. (ISBN: 9780689859403)
Other Spiderwick books include:
  • Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to The Fantastical World Around You - Compare prices. - (ISBN: 9780689859410)
  • The Notebook for Fantastical Observations - Compare prices. (ISBN: 9781416903451)
  • Care and Feeding of Sprites - Compare prices. (ISBN: 9781416927570)

The Creators of The Spiderwick Chronicles

Tony DiTerlizzi is a best-selling author and an award-winning illustrator. His books include Jimmy Zangwow's Out-of-This-World Moon-Pie Adventure and Ted. Mary Howitt’s The Spider and the Fly was awarded a Caldecott Honor because of the quality of DiTerlizzi’s illustrations. Tony DiTerlizzi is both the co-author and the illustrator of The Spiderwick Chronicles. He has illustrated work by such well-known fantasy authors as J.R.R. Tolkien and Anne McCaffrey. His pen and ink drawings in The Spiderwick Chronicles give life to the characters and help to set the mood of adventure and suspense.
Holly Black is also a best-selling author. She specializes in contemporary fantasy novels for teens and children. Her first book, Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale, a fantasy novel for young adults was published in 2002. Although they have know one another for a number of years, The Spiderwick Chronicles series and related books represents the first collaboration between Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.

The Spiderwick Chronicles: My Recommendation

I think The Spiderwick Chronicles series is an excellent choice for the child who enjoys fantasy and is ready to read chapter books but not yet ready for multiple subplots and stories that require the readers to draw lots of inferences and analyze and synthesize content to make sense of it. What you get with The Spiderwick Chronicles is an imaginative fantasy adventure story that is easy to follow and fun to read. I recommend it for younger independent readers seven and up. The chapters are short enough that you can also use the books as bedtime read alouds if your children are not yet ready to read the books on their own. My only caveat is that I wouldn’t recommend the series for the child who tends to be fearful and is still convinced there may really be a monster under the bed.

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