As hard as it is to believe, Christmas isn’t that far off. For those of you who might be the type to plan ahead and buy presents now, let me offer a suggestion. For those kids – or adults young at heart – who love fantasy adventure books, I can heartily recommend the Spiderwick Chronicles series by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. The reading level is ages 9-12 but they can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.
For the uninitiated, the series revolves around the Grace family and their new temporary home, the Spiderwick Estate. The Grace children find themselves in a new home out in the boonies and so naturally they begin to explore their surroundings. The story takes off when they come upon what appears to be a book prepared by their uncle entitled Arthur Spiderwick’s Guide to the Fantastical World Around You. This field guide turns out to be a manual on how to spot and deal with faeries; fairies inhabit the Spiderwick house and the surrounding area. With the help of this guide, the Grace children are soon spotting and interacting with these fantastical creatures and adventures ensue.
This is not just an innocent fantasy story of children playing with “the Little People,” however, as the faeries have a dark side (or at least the bad ones, or Bogarts, do). It seems the faeries are not happy that this book exists and the children are told to discard it post haste. The children’s adventures are largely made up of trying to figure out what to do with the book and the Pandora’s box they seemed to have opened up.
While the story is inventive and the characters realistic and interesting, an important part of the attraction of these books are the illustrations by co-author Tony DiTerlizzi. And now Simon and Schuster has expanded this aspect with a beautiful companion volume: a real life Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You. This book should provide hours of exploration and entertainment to go along with the series. The Amazon description says it all:
Spiderwick fans will adore this gorgeous guidebook to the fantastical creatures featured in Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi’s spectacular series. The superdeluxe, lavishly illustrated “field guide” features 142 information-packed pages, 41 full-color plates, 6 spectacular gatefolds, 6 watercolor landscapes, scores of black-and-white and color sketches, and enough information to satisfy even the most demanding faerie enthusiast. Not only will readers learn all about the 14 fantastical creatures featured in the series, but they’ll be delighted and astonished by an additional 15 creatures featured in this elaborate volume–including mermaids, gargoyles, and more. And if that weren’t enough, we’ve included dozens of snippets from Arthur Spiderwick’s personal journal–information that links the Guide specifically to the Spiderwick Chronicles–as well as cameos from a few of the series’ favorite characters.
IMHO, the series box set and the Field Guide would make a great gift. Of course, you can always buy it for yourself too!
Click below for a few snapshots of some of the illustrations it contains or click over to Amazon to see more.