Series Review: The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
Published By Simon & Schuster, 2003-2008
Genre: Children’s Lit, Fantasy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: These ones are great to come back to and I can’t wait to share them with my nieces and nephews.
Reviewed by Indiana
Have you ever noticed that some books you read as a kid just don’t hold up when you revisit them? You try to get back into them but somehow the magic is gone.
Luckily, that was not the case with The Spiderwick Chronicles. The five-book series is packed with fantastical creatures, quirky characters, thrilling adventures, and puzzling mysteries; in short it’s everything that a kid (or adult) could want in a fantasy series.
If you had a deprived childhood and didn’t get to read the series, it begins with the tale of the Grace children, Jared, Simon, and Mallory, as they discover their great uncle Arthur’s guide to the world of faeries and other not-so-pleasant creatures.
They are soon told that if they don’t give up the field guide, horrible things will happen to them, but just like most curious children, they keep the field guide and they get more than they bargained for. They meet elves, get captured by goblins, care for a griffin and discover more secrets of the world.
It’s a quick series (I read each one in an hour or two over the course of the last five days) and I think that definitely helps kids who normally wouldn’t be really interested in reading. Many children’s’ books take several pages to introduce characters, set a scene and build up to the adventure. But with the Spiderwick Chronicles, there’s a bit of action and adventure right from the get-go.
The series is also fantastically illustrated, something I probably didn’t appreciate enough the first time I read it. Every few pages or so has a sketch of a scene or a creature. It adds another layer to the story and I’d guess it’s another element that helps kids to really become immersed in the Spiderwick world.
Coming back to these books as an adult, I’m happy to say that I had excellent taste when I was a kid. There are the little kernels of truth that ring throughout the adventures, but not in a preachy way. Jared has an anger issue, but it comes through as bravery and loyalty when he’s tested. The kids have a distant relationship with their father, which comes into play in one of the last books.
The siblings also learn when to trust their instincts and learn when to trust themselves versus what the world seems to be telling them. Black and DiTerlizzi weave together a great story within the tiny spine of each Spiderwick Chronicle.
These mini adventures are well worth coming back to again and again over the years.