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85 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read & challenging riddles.
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...
Published on June 12, 2003 by Alison A. Parker

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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slick packaging, light on substance
I am a sucker for a nicely bound, handsomely illustrated book. So much so that I will probably buy the rest of the series despite the author's abbreviated attention to some weighty subject matter.
The chief problem is the brevity of the book; a slim seven chapters and hundred-odd pages. Holly Black's attempt to introduce the characters, build a bit of mystery,...
Published on May 27, 2003 by J. Bradway


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85 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read & challenging riddles., June 12, 2003
This review is from: The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1) (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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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Start, June 21, 2004
This review is from: The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1) (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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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Put this on the top of your reading list, May 12, 2003
By 
Danielle (Linthicum, MD USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1) (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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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles), June 16, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1) (Hardcover)
My five year old listened to this entire book in one sitting and was totally enthralled! He couldn't wait to begin Book Two and now that we have completed it he has convinced us to re-read The Field Guide to him. (All in less than six hours!) He loves the mystery and the very realistic personalities of the children. This is a fantastic find for him as he is counting down the days to the release of the next Harry Potter book. The Field Guide has wonderful imagery and like Harry Potter, a sense of innocent fantasy that young children love. Unlike the Harry Potter books, these are small enough for a "quick" read. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to Tony Diterlizzi and Holly Black for these superb stories!!!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We daren't go a-hunting, for fear of little men, July 7, 2005
This review is from: The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1) (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. Almost suspended from his last school, Jared hopes to get a clean start in the family's new home. It's a huge mansion, falling apart at the seams, that currently belongs to their great-aunt Lucinda. Once inside, the kids start hearing noises in the walls and finding mysterious rooms without any doors. Jared alone follows these discoveries to their natural conclusions when he realizes that they aren't the only ones living on the Spiderwick Estate. Something else is too. And it's mad.

At first glance this title looks like nothing so much as a rip-off of the highly successful (and admittedly better written) "Series of Unfortunate Events". It's a foot tall hardback copy done in a classic font with intricate pen-and-ink illustrations. It even has a note on the back cover reading, "Go away / close the book / put it down / do not look". Very Lemony Snicket. The book is also about three siblings that must deal with a separation within their family, but here the similarities stop. Obviously the publishers thought it would be a good idea to package "Spiderwick" books like Snicket's for marketing purposes. Beyond the obvious outer similarities, however, this book is wildly different. Written for a younger audience, "The Field Guide" is far more concerned with faeries and spirits than with the machinations of an evil Count. There are little clues for kids to solve and a mystery to conquer. Best of all, however, is the writing itself.

You know you're in good hands when the twin brothers featured in your children's series don't always get along and CERTAINLY don't think alike. Jared and Simon obviously care for one another, but they have spats and fights like any sibling duo. Their older sister, Mallory, finds herself on the receiving end of a particularly nasty boggart in a scene that many a little sibling will probably be taking notes from. In the end, however, it's the three of them against the wide fey world. If you find yourself rooting for them, don't be surprised.

Tony DiTerlizzi, as I mentioned before, is responsible for the illustrations here and he owes a great deal to the man credited in his dedication. Says DiTerlizzi, "For Arthur Rackham, may you continue to inspire others as you have me". Inspire's one word for it. DiTerlizzi obviously spent a lot of time poring over Rackham's intricate mysterious (and downright ghoulish at times) paintings in children's books long past. Here, you have a slightly cleaner version of the old master's critters, but they still convey the right amount of menace when they need to.

Kids reading this book may initially be disappointed that there's only a single magical critter to be found within its pages. Fortunately, the book will certainly whet the whistles of many a fantasy-craving youngster. If you're going to find your children a young reader series for their perusal, you could do far far worse than this entertaining first book in a five book series.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic series..., June 22, 2004
This review is from: The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1) (Hardcover)
I am a 37 year old mother and love anything with wonderful imagination and here, the Spiderwick Chronicles, are all fantastic. I have read each of them and actually I am kind of sorry the book will be done after the next book. I could read more and more if possible. Holly Black and Tony Diterlizzi are so creative. I do not think that these books are just for children. I recommend the series to all ages. It is fast reading but really exciting. I am sure many of you will enjoy them. My little girl who is six, loves the series too. Definetly pick these books up the next time you are shopping at a bookstore or if you are online looking for a new book to read.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! Something for the younger reader!, August 5, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1) (Hardcover)
I've heard about this new series despite the huge buzz about "Harry Potter" this summer, and I was curious to check them out. My son is 5, my daughter 8, and I have to tell you, they enjoyed these books much more than they did the latest Harry.
I've seen some of the reviews here, and I think what many people are missing (which is clearly stated on the back of the book) is that these books are intended for readers 6-10.
They are sophisticated, snappy, and not overly written. We were able to read a chapter or two together, and the story was just the right length for my youngest's attention span.
As an parent, I too was just as excited to find out what happened next as much as my kids were. But the best thing is that the richness of these books is intended for little imaginations. Truly a fairy tale for tthe 21st century!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Page Turner, May 19, 2003
This review is from: The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1) (Hardcover)
The Spiderwick Chronicles Book 1, written by Holly Black and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi, should do nicely for fans of Lemony Snicket who are looking for something new to read. The story concerns three children who go to live in a house inhabited by faeries after the children's parents have divorced. However these faeries are the real kind; mischievous, troublesome and sometimes violent. Not to worry though, everything works out fine once the children learn to understand the ways of the faeries. This first book entitled "The Field Guide" is about how the children discover the faeries and a book called "Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You." This book is just what it implies, a guide to the faeries. The writing is wonderful but the real reason to buy The Spiderwick Chronicles is for the illustrations by Tony DiTerlizzi. If you aren't already familiar with his work in books ...then you are in for a real treat. Mr. DiTerlizzi's work is jaw droppingly brilliant. I highly recommend The Spiderwick Chronicles.
...
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slick packaging, light on substance, May 27, 2003
By 
J. Bradway "jamie" (Apex, NC United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1) (Hardcover)
I am a sucker for a nicely bound, handsomely illustrated book. So much so that I will probably buy the rest of the series despite the author's abbreviated attention to some weighty subject matter.
The chief problem is the brevity of the book; a slim seven chapters and hundred-odd pages. Holly Black's attempt to introduce the characters, build a bit of mystery, sympathetically handle one child's pretty severe abandonment issues, and reach some pinnacle of suspense to keep the reader coming back all fall short for lack of space. I feel very much like I have just read an outline for a very interesting novel.
However, I read this with my daughter (age nine) who paid much closer attention for this than with most books. I credit DiTerlizzi's excellent illustrations that kept her looking over my shoulder the entire time. The weakest of these drawings are equal to the best of Brett Helquist's in Lemony Snicket's Unfortunate Events. I mean that to be extremely high praise, as I greatly admire Helquist's abilities, as well. It is, primarily, her interest that will convince me to buy the next in the series.
My hope is that, with introductions out of the way, book two will cover more ground, build suspense, and magically make my buyer's remorse vanish completely.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best birthday present ever!, April 13, 2004
A Kid's Review
This review is from: The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1) (Hardcover)
For my Birthday my friend gave me THE FIELD GUIDE. I Think that it's really cool, Since I really like faires and magical stuff. My favorite part is when Mallory, Simon, And Jared find the Dumbwaiter. I got a little creeped out when the bogart wrote in the dust, though. It was kind of weird when Mallory's hair got tied to her headboard. But it's now my favorite book, and I NEED to read the other one!
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The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1)
The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1) by Holly Black (Hardcover - May 2003)
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