Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Spiderwick Chronicles

The Spiderwick Chronicles

The Completely Fantastical Edition

If you read modern fantasy, chances are you’ve read Holly Black. While well known for her grungy urban fantasy stories Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside, she’s also an accomplished children’s author with The Spiderwick Chronicles.

The Spiderwick Chronicles is a series of books about three siblings – Jared, Simon, and Mallory – who moved into an old house belonging to their great aunt. Unfortunately for them, the Spiderwick house has been watched by both good and bad faeries in order to seize a guide that Arthur Spiderwick had created years ago. Jared discovers this guide and the three children become unwilling participants in a battle between good and evil.

These books were originally bought for my youngest brother when he was about eight or nine years old. He read them quickly and told me that I should read them. I did and loved them. I recently picked up my own copies in the form the The Completely Fantastical Edition, which contains all five books, Tony DiTerlizzi’s sketchbook, The Lost Chapters, and a Spiderwick All-Star Gallery1.

As I said before, I love the Spiderwick Chronicles. Even though it’s a children’s book, it takes a fairly dark look into the world of faerie without being too frightening. You learn very early on that you can’t always trust the fae, but if you’re clever enough, you can either persuade or trick them into helping you when you need it most. Too many stories try to sugar coat faeries into these nice little things that never do anything bad. Stories like Spiderwick are valuable to a child’s understanding of the world. It demonstrates that good people can sometimes do bad things or make terrible mistakes without confusing them as to who the real bad guys of the story are.

And these books are a lot of fun, which is very important in a children’s book. Even though the three kids in the story are kidnapped and threatened and have to fight hordes of goblins, the story never loses sight of the fun adventure aspects. I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who wants a good faerie story or to anyone who has kids who like a good faerie story.

1 Illustrations and drawings inspired by The Spiderwick Chronicles by other distinguished artists.

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