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The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 1, 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 212 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The first book in a beautifully produced series of five, The Field Guide sets up the story of the Grace children--13-year-old Mallory and 9-year-old twins Jared and Simon--who with their mother move into the dilapidated Spiderwick Estate only to quickly find themselves sucked into a dark and fascinating world of faeries.

Superficially, the Spiderwick Chronicles smack of Lemony Snicket, with its "true story" setup and breathless warnings ("Go away/close the book/put it down/do not look"). But Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black owe no one for the intensely absorbing world they've created. Black certainly showed fey promise in her slightly freaky debut and DiTerlizzi has weird cred to spare, from his zany Jimmy Zangwow to countless credits for the Magic: The Gathering card game.

By combining their ample skill with thoughtful art direction and demanding production values, the duo has succeeded in creating a series with irresistible appeal. Each book promises a quick read, snappy plot progression, and dozens of DiTerlizzi's imaginative pen-and-ink drawings. So if you're drawn to The Field Guide at all, you might as well save yourself the trouble and make sure you have the second book (The Seeing Stone handy. (Ages 6 to 10) --Paul Hughes


"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

"With their evocative gothic-style pencil drawings and color illustrations, rhyming riddles, supernatural lore, and well-drawn characters, these books read like old-fashioned ripping yarns." -- "New York Times Book Review"

"The books wallow in their dusty Olde Worlde charm: Faeries! Dumbwaiters! Attics! But then, reading has an old-fashioned charm too." -- "Time" magazine

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 600L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Spiderwick Chronicles (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 107 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689859368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689859366
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.6 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (212 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Field Guide, in my mind, is superior in the realm of children's lit. Even in the present-day "Renaissance of Children's Literature" it is not often that one stumbles across a book with some many postive characteristics.
For one, I do not understand the hullabaloo surrounding the similarity in packaging to the Lemony Snicket books. This book was not dark or full of satire like the Series of Unfortunate Events books. Truly, the packaging of these series is where the similarities begin and end.
These series is probably more appropriate for a younger audience as well, except for one expletive ("crap") that adults may find objectionable.
The family dynamics are believeable. The sibliings love each other and help each other out, but that doesn't stop rivalry or redicule.
The story begins as the family moves into a new house, sans the father. After some exploring with the dumbwaiter, the children find mystifying secrets. The author's secrets are tough to figure out, but is good for mind-stretching purposes.
I would especially recommend this book for children who may be too young for Harry Potter.
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Format: Hardcover
What better place to begin a children's fantasy series than a mysterious, run-down old Victorian? Anyone that knows anything about Victorians knows that they have enormous storytelling potential, as many of the larger, older ones have attics and crawl spaces galore. A perfect place for faeries, good or bad, to be hiding out, and for children to go exploring.
For a twin, poor Jared Grace seems oddly the quintessential loner - the typical setup character who sees and believes in the elements of fantasy first, but whom nobody believes. Nevertheless, it's impossible, through both the writing and the deft illustrations throughout, not to have empathy for him. I "fell in love with" Jared in the first two pages, and maintained that throughout the story, which, while short, was still lively and well paced. Jared, who characterizes himself through the narrator as aimless and not the smart one (the smart one is Simon, his twin), is the character who is determined to solve the clues he is faced with, and upon realization that their families disruption of a faerie creatures habitat is the cause of all of their weird troubles, sets the situation right all by himself.
While comparisons to Lemony Snicket are inevitable, I found more similarities to L. Frank Baum, particularly in chapter titles, such as "In Which Two Walls are Explored by Vastly Different Methods". I particuarly enjoyed the drawing of the boggart in the final scene, as it was reminiscent of Jon O'Neil's wonderful and still (in my opinion) unparalleled artistry in children's books from the Wizard of Oz series. And kids - if you haven't read all of Baum's Oz books, rush to the library or beg your parents to buy them for you here on Amazon (*grin*) for they are amazing and wonderful, and in this most delightful rennaisance of children's fantasy, should not be forgotten. More than one hundred years ago, L. Frank Baum started it all.
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Format: Hardcover
All the things a kid could ever want in a book--Faeries, Goblins, secret rooms, and a quick read to boot. I frequent the library, but felt these books were so fantastic I had to buy copies of my own. The illustrations by Tony DiTerlizzi are wonderful, and I found myself eager to turn each page to see the next picture, as well as to read what would happen in the story. The style of the books are eerily similar to that of Lemony Snicket-- there are three siblings who find themselves in some sort of trouble or danger in each book, a letter from the author, and a snippet on the back of each book with reasons why you shouldn't read the story. Still, the events in the books were very original and kept me entertained. I can't wait for the rest of the series to be released (there are five books total). A must read!!
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Format: Hardcover
I was stumped. When a young mother came up to my library desk the other day and asked me whether or not "The Field Guide", first volume in "The Spiderwick Chronicles" would be considered too scary for her little one, I found I couldn't answer. I couldn't answer because (shame shame) I hadn't read the book. It's not a long book. It's not a difficult book. It's not even a boring book. Somehow, however, I'd always managed to miss it. Now my back was to the wall and it was time to read that puppy ASAP. A cursory glance showed me that the author, Holly Black, wrote one of my favorite teen fairy stories "Tithe". The illustrator, Tony DiTerlizzi, was partly responsible for that breathtaking "The Spider and the Fly" that came out a few years ago. A little happier with the prospect of spending time with two such enticing names in the child-lit world, I dove into their first book... and was delighted. I've been railing against early chapter books like "The Secrets of Droon" and "The Magic Tree House" series. These are books that are written for young kids and that are adored widely. How much more difficult would it be, then, to write similar books but with GOOD writing? With "Spiderwick" we have our answer. It's hard, but not impossible.

Three siblings arrive at their new home with a whole lot of baggage (physical and otherwise). Their mother has divorced relatively recently, and each kid has had to deal with the change in a different way. Mallory, the eldest at thirteen, has thrown herself body and soul into her fencing. Simon concentrates more fully on his pet animals and his twin brother Jared... well Jared tends to get into fights at school. He hasn't found anything to fill the lonely and angry hours spent missing his father.
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