Black, H., & DiTerlizzi, T. (2004). The Spiderwick chronicles [multi-volume set]. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Interest Level: 3-6
Reading Level: 5.3
Genre: Fantasy
Subjects: Fairies, Goblins, Ghouls and ogres, Brothers and sisters, Single-parent families, Great-aunts, Magic, Action and Adventure, Supernatural, Fantasy
The Spiderwick Chronicles:
1 – The Field Guide
2 – The Seeing Stone
3 – Lucinda’s Secret
4 – The Ironwood Tree
5 – The Wrath of Mulgarath

Follow the Grace siblings as they journey the invisible and perilous world of faeries.

The Spiderwick Chronicles is a series of children’s books, often considered a Harry Potter series for younger or reluctant readers co-created by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. They chronicle the adventures of the Grace children, twins Simon and Jared and their older sister Mallory, after they move into Spiderwick Estate and discover a world of faeries that they never knew existed. Interestingly enough, The Spiderwick Chronicles is based off of a mysterious letter from three fans that gave Holly Black and Tony DiTerilizzi an account similar to that of the book series.

The first book in the Spiderwick Chronicles, The Field Guide, set in Maine centers around three siblings who have recently moved to the old rickety house owned by the great-great-uncle Arthur Spiderwick. The Grace children have moved with their mother after their parents separated. The nine-year-old twins Jared and Simon are complete opposites. Jared has a habit of getting and finding his way into trouble while Simon loves his studies. Their feisty fencing older sister (thirteen-years-old) attempts to be more responsible than her age and be the “perfect daughter”. In their new home, none of which the family is pleased to be living at, the three siblings discover a secret library and Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You, and discover a world of fairies that they never believe existed. In addition, they meet Thimbletack after he causes much mischief that Jared had been blamed for (i.e. tying Malory’s hair to her bed), a brownie (a type of fairy) that has quite a temper if he doesn’t get his way and also not given honey needed to calm him down.

In the second book of the series, The Seeing Stone, in which Thimbletack’s advice is ignored and Simon is abducted by invisible goblins once he steps outside the protective magical barrier around the house. To aid Jared find his brother, Thimbletack offers Jared an object giving him “the sight”. The seeing stone, created by Arthur Spiderwick is a hallow disk shaped stone that when one looks through it they can see the many fairy splendors (beautiful and frightening). Together, Jared and Mallory find Simon hostage in a goblin camp. When they befriend a Hogsquel, a hobgoblin, he offers them “the sight” permanently without the need of the stone (spits in their eyes) in exchange for his freedom. As Jared, Mallory, Simon, and Hogsquel escape, lead the goblins to their deaths when they encounter a bridge troll, and rescue and nurse an injured griffin back at their home within the safety of the magical barrier.

In the third installment of the Spiderwick Chronicles, Lucinda’s Secret, the Grace children choose to visit their great-aunt Lucinda, living in a psychiatric hospital from all her nonsensical talk of fairies and other magical beings. They wish to learn more about the faerie world, the creatures, and her father, Arthur Spiderwick who authored the Field Guide that changed their ordinary lives. Great-aunt Lucinda tells how her father disappeared when she was still very young and has his whereabouts have never been discovered. As the Grace Children meet forest elves that inform the Grace children he was punished for not giving them the Field Guide which in the wrong hands such as Mulgarath could learn how to rule the world of faeries was punished and held captive in a place in which time is forever frozen. The elves proceed to kidnap Simon who they believe to be Jared until the Field Guide is finally given over to them.

The Ironwood Tree is the fourth book in the Spiderwick Chronicles in which Mallory goes missing after a fencing contest. Simon and Jarred while searching for Mallory in an abandoned quarry end up being taken prisoners by dwarves by the orders of the evil Mulgarath. Mallory is eventually found in an abandoned quarry sleeping in a glass-coffin. All three children manage to escape along with freeing yet another creature, a Knocker, who tells them that they must listen to the stones to exit the quarry or be trapped for eternity. As they escape they are able to stop and watch Mulgarath, the hideous ogre wanting to rule not only the faerie world but all realms (human too). Mulgarath is the epitome of all evil as he has the dwarves killed by goblins working for him under the assumption that this is their punishment for failing to retrieve the Field Guide from Jared when in actuality, Mulgarath has had the Field Guide all along. The Grace children now knowing the Field Guide is in the possession of the worst of all beings are faced with horror knowing that Mulgarath not only has a goblin army, but also is in procession of all the iron weapons forged by the dwarves.

The Grace children’s’ journey concludes in the fifth and final book, The Wrath of Mulgarath. After returning home (Spiderwick Estate) after the events at the abandoned quarry, their home is destroyed, their mother is missing, and the hobgoblin, Hogsquel who saw it all occur informs Jared, Simon, and Mallory that it was the goblins that destroyed their home and captured their mother to the palace of the ogre Mulgarath. Mulgarath’s palace, resembling a garbage dump successfully battle the goblins and and finally discover Mulgarath’s plans who has already learned from the Field Guide how to make young dragon rapidly mature. With his envisioned army of dragons, Mulgarath believes it possible for him to conquer the earth. The griffin they rescued in the first book, later named Byron kills the mother dragon as Simon kills the younger ones. As they venture into the palace, they find their mother and discover that the man that appears to be their father is actually Mulgarath in disguise. They inform Mulgarath how they have decimated the dragons and foiled his plans for world domination and as he transforms into a swallow in attempt to escape but is thankfully is eaten by Hogsqueal. One the battle is all done, and the Grace children along with their mother return back home, they are met by Arthur Spiderwick who is reunited with his daughter Lucinda and all is safe for both the faerie and human worlds.

The Spiderwick Chronicles has appealing character, age appropriate suspense, a fast action-packed pace, magical wonder, creativity, as well as plenty of humor. For those that love the world of Spiderwick Chronicles, they will enjoy reading as the Spiderwick saga continues in Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles, The Nixie’s Song, A Giant Problem, and the final book, The Wyrm King. Other enjoyable books belonging to the Spiderwick universe includes Arthur Spiderwick’s Notebook for Fantastical Observations, Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You, The Spiderwick Chronicles: Care and Feeding of Sprites, and The Chronicles of Spiderwick: A Grand Tour of the Enchanted World, Navigated by Thimbletack. Most readers, young or old that enjoyed the Harry Potter series will enjoy these short, very detailed, amusing, and beautifully illustrated books. And, of course, Nickelodeon produced a major motion picture based on the first five books. Though the movie was entertaining many unnecessary changes were made as it was converted from text to film.

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