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Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 07/01/2003 When nine-year-old twin brothers Jared and Simon Grace and their thirteen-year-old sister Mallory move into their great-aunt Lucinda’s decrepit Victorian mansion, they are not necessarily looking for adventure: their father has moved out, their mother is broke, and they have no place else to go. In The Field Guide, the first volume of this projected five-volume series, Jared discovers a secret room in the old house that points him toward the life’s work of a family ancestor: Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World, a book about the habits and peculiarities of fairies, brownies, etc. The siblings subsequently discover they have a house-boggart cum brownie, Thimbletack, who advises them to get rid of the book. Despite Thimbletack’s warning, Jared holds onto the Guide, and in the second book, The Seeing Stone, readers see the indirect result: Simon is kidnapped by goblins, and Jared and Mallory go after him. This new series has two things Lemony Snicket’s series doesn’t: magic and pictures. DiTerlizzi (author/illustrator of Ted, BCCB 2/01 and illustrator of The Spider and the Fly,11/02) and Black (author of Tithe, BCCB 1/03) have created an old-fashioned fantasy romp festooned with eye-catching visuals. At about one hundred pages, each volume ends just when the going gets good, a ploy that will certainly bring readers back for more. The authors have a smooth, quick storytelling style, and the dialogue among the sibs (and their interactions with their nearly overwhelmed mother) have the resonance of true sibling sniping. With its reader-friendly concept and sophisticated packaging, the Spiderwick Chronicles will be a hit, which may well be considered an Unfortunate Event for competing series. - Copyright 2003 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 07/01/2003 Gr 3-6-As this new series begins, Jared, Simon, and Mallory Grace move with their mother into their Great-Aunt Lucinda's old, decaying house, where they discover a secret room. A poetic clue leads Jared to a book that offers detailed information about the different types of magical creatures that live in our world. After the inadvertent destruction of the home and treasures of the boggart who inhabits the room leads to increasingly more malicious tricks, Jared is blamed. With the help of the Field Guide, the boy realizes that the small creature is at fault and is able to pacify him. Thimbletack warns Jared and his siblings that reading the book will only lead to trouble, which is what comes to pass in the second volume, when Simon is kidnapped by goblins, leaving Jared and Mallory to come to his rescue. Details like Thimbletack's tiny house, Jared's use of a dumbwaiter to discover the hidden room, and the fights against the goblins will catch readers' attention. However, the Grace children stand out only for surface characteristics like Simon's many pets and Mallory's passion for fencing. Adult characters remain offstage or exist only to discipline and disbelieve the children. The many text-enhancing black-and-white drawings give the "Spiderwick Chronicles" a look that resembles Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" (HarperCollins), and the presentation as based on the Grace children's factual story as told to the authors gives it a similar tone, which should add to the books' appeal. While the characters' lack of depth detracts from the quality of these titles, the fast, movielike pace will grab young readers.-Beth L. Meister, Yeshiva of Central Queens, Flushing, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. - Copyright 2003 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.