Tuesday, March 15, 2011

MG Book Review: The Spiderwick Chronicles, by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

General Information
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster
Year of publication:  2003-2004
# of chapters:  7 per book (5 books)
# of pages:  108 per book (book 5: 136)
Genre:  Fantasy
Website:  promo.simonandschuster.com/Spiderwick
Plot summary:  from Wikipedia
Books in the series:
Book 1: The Field Guide
Book 2: The Seeing Stone
Book 3: Lucinda's Secret
Book 4: The Ironwood Tree
Book 5: The Wrath of Mulgarath

There's also a second series, which I haven't read yet, and which is not covered in this review:
Book 1:  The Nixie's Song
Book 2:  A Giant Problem
Book 3:  The Wyrm King

Positive Points
This series introduces the reader to different faeries, such as brownies, goblins, sprites, elves, griffins, and many more.  With each book, we discover new creatures, their unique characteristics, and the settings where they dwell.  Everything is simple and described in such a way that even a beginner fantasy reader can understand. 

The story is written through Jared's POV, one of the nine-year-old twin brothers.  Even though they are twins, they have their own unique personalities.  Jared loves drawing, and seems to be more affected than his siblings about their parents' recent divorce, sometimes reacting in an aggressive way and getting in trouble at school.  His brother, Simon, loves animals and owns a wide variety of pets.  Mallory, their thirteen-year-old sister, is into fencing.  Their personalities come out very naturally, without feeling forced or exaggerated.

Negative Points
I noticed the author used a lot of unnecessary dialogue tags (he said, she said, ...), almost at every line of dialogue. This slowed down the plot and distracted me at some point.  Many of them could have easily been eliminated or replaced by some action.

The last book felt a bit rushed, even though it was longer than the others, as if the author tried to wrap up all the loose ends as much as possible without going in depth and developing a whole scene.

What makes these books unique
For someone like me who doesn't read fantasy a lot, this is a good place to start. I learned about some creatures I wasn't familiar with, and re-discovered some others I had heard about before. The variety of creatures and settings make for a good, entertaining story.  The books are very short and easy to read.  There is an accompanying field guide, which is the same as the one Jared owns in the story. 

Overall Impression
I would recommend this series for children who are interested in reading fantasy, but are not quite ready yet for something more advanced, such as The Lord of the Rings.

My Rating:

Thinking of purchasing these books? I'll make it easy for you:


Anonymous said...

This blog is bookmarked! I really love the stuff you have put here.


Anonymous said...

Great post Annie... I loved those books.

Annie McMahon said...

Thanks, Karter and Tania! :)

Emailman said...

I had heard a lot about these books, but it was interesting to see them from a writer's perspective :) Great review, Annie.

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