Review: The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book One- The Field Guide

Title: The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book One-The Field Guide

Authors: Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

                           Copyright: 2003

A note to the reader: To understand the very complex reason I chose this series to review you really must know a little bit more about me and my relationship with a boy named Harry…

I grew up at the very beginning of what is widely known as “HP mania”. That’s right, Harry Potter. I remember being around the same age, or maybe just a little older than Harry at the release of the first book; and the series’ characters followed my age, approximately, straight through the seventh book. I read the first book of the Harry Potter series shortly after its release and as a young girl was not terribly impressed. As the series progressed, my friends one by one fell victim to the HP book bug, and I gradually became more and more annoyed by that magical little brat and the whole HP universe, thus burying myself deep into a “Harry Potter free zone” of reading. I still couldn’t escape the mania though, as many of us know. Who could with the midnight book releases, movies trailers, halloween costumes, and HP paraphernalia that continues to infiltrate every inch of popular culture in much of America & the UK. I even found out when Dumbledore died, but a mere hours after the book release via a Facebook post by a fellow so-called HP free reader gone traitor. The walls of my Harry free zone did slowly crumble and I have by now managed to choke down four of the HP books and three of the movies in my adulthood, though I still do not consider myself a fan of HP or fantasy series books in general by any stretch of the imagination. (please don’t get me wrong– I do appreciate what the literary world of J.K. Rowling has done for children, the children’s book writing and publishing industry, and acknowledge the positive effects that popular children’s book series can have on literacy rates worldwide.) I digress.

The real point is my book devouring partner in crime and co-blogger “Fred Reads” is, I’d say, the biggest fantasy series fan that I know. Inspired by his love for reading and blogging about books both within and outside of his realm of interests, I have finally been convinced to finally join the fantasy series club (even if it is just a trial membership).

My first endeavor? The Spiderwick Chronicles: a short (read: manageable, for even the most reluctant of fantasy readers), well written, imaginative series about a different trio of children who discover a hidden world they never knew existed. Siblings Jared, Simon, and Mallory are seemingly in for wild new chapter of life after having discovered a book full of creatures with names as wild as their looks. Jared is the main character, but he is no hero. An every day boy who knows the pains and dilemmas of domestic family problems, sibling annoyances, and black eyes, Jared gets into trouble just as much as any other 8 year old. Unlike his pop culture rival Harry, Jared cannot escape his problems into a magical world but must coexist in both, giving him a “working class boy” charm which I immediately fell in love with.

DiTerlizzi and Black work wonders in creating a whole world within one ramshackle house. The writing flows in a way that begs for a read aloud hour but is equally thrilling to the lone reader such as myself. The sketch style illustrations are worthy of many second glances, and the small trim hardcover edition that I have has slightly cream colored pages with rough edging, a mirror to the very object this volume of the series is titled for. After consuming the first book with a genuine feeling of satisfaction, I have to admit I am looking forward to the next.

Has a new fantasy book series addict been born? Will my book crush on young Jared spark a new obsession? Might Harry gain yet another adorning follower? I don’t know about that…then again, Jared just learned that there are whole worlds out there to be discovered, some of which we never knew existed. Why can’t I?

Full of detail, imaginative, yet still short and sweet, i would recommend this book for any fantasy series fan, and fantasy series “shoppers”, no matter how reluctant ages 8-13.

Posted By: Janine Reads

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Review: The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book One- The Field Guide

  1. Fred Reads

    Sorry it took me so long to reply. I’ve been super busy. Anyways, i think it’s a really good review. I was not aware of your grudge with fantasy, particularly Harry Potter. i’m really exited with Christmas coming up. I’m asking santa for money for a 2012 Italia Convertable Ferarri this year. Can’t wait to read your next review!:)

  2. Did you get your Ferarri, buddy?

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