The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide

By Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black; Scholastic Books, 2003; pp 107

Plot: Three ordinary kids and their mother move into an old, decaying home after separating from their father. Sure, the house, which belongs to old Aunt Lucinda, is falling down, but it’s a great place to downsize and give 13-year-old Mallory and her 9-year-old twin brothers Simon and Jared a fresh start. Except, the house is inhabited by a Household Boggart and other small, spirited, furry, critters (fairies) who make their presence known to the young Grace children immediately upon their arrival. Let the mischief commence! Young Jared, who infiltrates the home’s upper story and discovers the Spiderwick Chronicles, a diary left by Arthur Spiderwick, Aunt Lucinda’s father.

Genre: Fantasy

Reading Level: Ages 9 to 12

Review: Readers who enjoyed Lemony Snicket will love this five-book series. Like Lemony Snicket, this book displaces (but does not orphan) three children and drops them into a new home, a decaying home with mysterious inhabitants that resent the new arrivals. Immediately, the mischief begins and the critters yank the welcome mat out from under the children’s feet, with young Jared bearing the brunt of the fairies’ mayhem. This first book sets the stage for future adventure, with the discovery of Arthur Spiderwick’s chronicles and field notes and the arrival of one ornery Boggart, who trashes the kitchen and ties Mallory’s hair to the bedposts! If only Jared can convince his mother that he’s not responsible for these acts!

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