on February 2, 2007
My kids love fantasy, but if the book's too scary it can give them nightmares. So,when I'm unsure of the series, I'll read it myself first. I just finished reading all 5 of the Spiderwick books. There were some unique ideas in them, and they were entertaining. But my kids wouldn't be able to handle the part where cats were roasted and eaten by goblins, and they wouldn't like the idea of a cow being chained down while baby dragons nurse from her with sharp teeth until she's bloody. It was too gross for me, and I know that it would be too upsetting for my kids. I am not going to give these to my kids, and honestly, I'm not sure what to do with my copies.
I can recommend the following fantasy books: Magyk by Angie Sage, or the Enchanted Forest Chronicles (4 books) by Patricia Wrede.
on March 22, 2005
I wasn't sure how to rate this book because it is wonderful for one audience, disappointing for another.
I generally love children's books - Harry Potter and all that lot, you know. I expected another delightful fairy-tale-ish story suitable for both adults and children. However, the writing style was very plain and simple with a small vocabulary, and each book read like one short chapter of a longer book. I never forgot that I was reading a book made for children. Also, the main characters were a little bit irritating with all of their bickering - constantly telling each other to shut up. I suppose that is how it really is with siblings, but I didn't enjoy reading their arguments much. It had a nice plot, but again, very simple.
That was for all you grown-ups looking for a fresh read.
For kids, I expect this book would be marvelous. The illustrations are very good and plentiful, and the writing style is easy to understand and follow - just right for kids reading on their own. The fairy-tale creatures introduced are actual creatures they will have heard of (elves, trolls, hobgoblins), but with their own personalities for the story. The plot is original and complete; all the loose ends get tied up. I know I would have loved it when I was seven or so.
Buy it for all your young relatives.
on December 7, 2005
THE FIELD GUIDE: BOOK 1 - The Grace children - nine-year-old twins, Simon and Jared, and their thirteen-year-old sister, Mallory - are as different as night and day, seeing as how Simon is busy with his menagerie of pets, Mallory practices her fencing 24/7, and Jared has been labeled a troublemaker. But each of the three children all agree on one thing when they arrive at their new home, the Spiderwick Estate - it's a dilapidated, old shack. But within a short time, the three children realize that the Spiderwick Estate is more than meets the eye. For it is home to various mythical creatures who are all after one very important thing - Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You. A book which Jared is guarding with his life, and will not give up without a fight.
THE SEEING STONE: BOOK 2 - When Simon Grace's cat disappears, Jared simply thinks that the cat has wandered off on an excursion, and refuses to help Simon locate the missing animal. But when Jared discovers an old seeing glass - monocle - that gives him the ability to see strange and magical creatures around him, he realizes that Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide was absolutely right, and soon sees something amazing: Simon being pulled into the forest by a group of goblins. Now it's up to Jared and his older sister, Mallory, to make their way through the creepy forest, encountering goblins, an injured griffin, a terrifying troll, and a baby-toothed hobgoblin with a very interesting way of giving humans the "sight," in an attempt to save their kidnapped brother, before it's too late.
LUCINDA'S SECRET: BOOK 3 - When the Grace children realize that Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You is leaving their family in danger, they decide to consult their Aunt Lucinda in the matter of what should be done with the book. The problem, is that Aunt Lucinda is locked away in an asylum, where she is being held under the false pretense that she is crazy, when she is quite the opposite. Luckily, the three children are able to convince their mother to bring them to Aunt Lucinda for a visit, where they hope to ask her all about Arthur Spiderwick and The Field Guide. However, when you've got an angry house brownie named Thimbletack, who has recently transmogrified into a nasty boggart who plays tricks on Jared, a task as easy as that may be quite difficult.
THE IRONWOOD TREE: BOOK 4 - Things have been quiet for the Grace children ever since they tricked a group of nefarious faeries a few weeks ago. But when you're a resident of the Spiderwick Estate, and surrounded by various forms of mythical creatures, things can never stay quiet for long. And they don't. Which is quite evident, when Jared runs into a menacing shape-shifter that has taken on his characteristics, at Mallory's fencing match. But before Simon and Jared can figure out who the shape-shifter truly is, or inform Mallory about the mysterious character, she disappears - kidnapped, apparently. In an attempt to save their sister before something terrible happens to her, Simon and Jared embark on a journey into a local quarry, where they soon end up prisoners of some very strange characters, and find Mallory wearing something very strange...a dress.
THE WRATH OF MULGARATH: BOOK 5 - The Grace children - Mallory, Jared, and Simon - are back, but this time they are trying to save their beloved Mother who has been captured by the evil Mulgarath. With the help of Uncle Arthur's Guidebook to the Faerie World, as well as elves, and Hogsqueal, a sneaky hobgoblin, the three siblings set out to defeat Mulgarath for the last time. However, the children know that they have only a short time to save their Mother, before Mulgarath harms her, so they set their minds to do just that.
I had seen the SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES series in bookstores for years before I ever decided to read them. I wish that I had read them earlier, for they have become one of my favorite book series. Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black did an amazing job of creating a fantastical series featuring mythical creatures in modern-day America, and mixing in gorgeous illustrations in, to create an enchanting series that will be loved by readers young and old. Each book may be quite short - only about 108 pages each, including illustrations - but a lot of punch is packed into that small package, and will keep you enthralled for hours upon hours. The perfect series for young/middle readers - or children too young for J.K. Rowling's HARRY POTTER and Lemony Snicket's SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS series.
Book Review Columnist for The Community Bugle Newspaper
on October 9, 2004
My boys & I have finished reading the last of this thriling five title series THE WRATH OF MULGRATH and I must say we are sorry the Grace children's story is not continuing. This series is an easy quick read that keeps the kids asking for more, so we will start reading them over and over again. The box set which includes The Field Guide, The Seeing Stone, Lucinda's Secret, The Ironwood Tree and the last book newly released, The Wrath of Mulgrath is in a very attractive gift box. The books are all durable hardbacks, wonderfully illustrated and make a GREAT gift. I highly recommend.
on January 22, 2005
The Spiderwick books flit between delightful fairy story, mundane family life, sinister mystery, and rollicking high adventure and the combination is indeed a magical one. While the books vary in their allure--book two is by far the best read--together they create a convincing, fully realized world of magic that at once draws from a long tradition of fairy lore (Black did her research...) and is something entirely new (...and then let her imagination take over).
Despite my sincere enjoyment of the stories, I did find some of the marketing ploys of this five-book set a bit irksome. The series of unfortunate letters which opened each of the books smacked of copycat commercialism. Black and DiTerlizzi are far too pedestrian--a word which here means lacking any connection to a mysterious Beatrice or V.F.D.--to be introduced as "characters" interacting in the fictional world of the Grace children. Furthermore, I'm baffled by the choice to break up the five episodes into separate books when the overall storyline really dictates a single novel. The structure of these stories is less Harry Potter and more Huckleberry Finn--and should have been packaged as such. I'm sure some upstanding editor at Simon and Schuster waged a battle of epic proportions on this very issue; sadly, in the fairyland of publishing, the Mulgaraths of the marketing world won. After all, you can't sell a boxed set when you only have one book.
One final note: Perhaps publishers do have a conscience. Suppressed guilt would explain the lavish and detailed craftsmanship that went into the production of the books, from cover design to paper choice. These details make the stories that much more of a joy to read; and on that score, the reader wins.
on February 15, 2005
A wonderful set of stories! While feeding off of the "Harry Potter" craze, these are excellent books in and of themselves. By breaking this story into 5 smaller books, this series is much more managable for those younger readers (3rd grade level, more or less) who want to read Potter, but just aren't able to yet! My class begged to borrow these books from me!