The Spiderwick Chronicles

Our rating: **½

The adventure begins as the Grace family (twins Jared and Simon, Mallory, and their mother) moves into a house that Mrs. Grace’s great-aunt Lucinda has given them. And then strange things begin to happen. The children find a hidden room, full of weird references to faeries. Jared finds a field guide by Arthur Spiderwick telling all about the different kinds of faeries, what they do, where they live, and how to tame them. When they do find faeries, the faeries want them to destroy the book. But Jared insists on keeping it, and so the Grace family is plunged into an adventure they never expected.

Although this is a fun story, there are many things included that make it inappropriate for the intended age group.  Jared has problems controlling his temper, and he never overcomes the problem. He also deceives the faeries more than once in order to keep the field guide, but later realizes that he should be truthful. His siblings are a little more well-behaved.

Somewhat disappointing is the fact that the villain character is not revealed until the fourth book in the series. Also, the story seems to be stretched out needlessly to cover a five book serial. Every member of the family is captured by faeries at one time or another, which makes for exciting escapes, but becomes boring reading after the second or third capture. However, a clever story does manage to make Spiderwick worth reading. Even though the series is aimed at a younger audience, I feel that it is really better suited for ages 10 and up, so I went ahead and labeled them for older readers. I’ve linked to the boxed set, as the books really should be read back-to-back.

I actually enjoyed the recent film version of The Spiderwick Chronicles better than the book. A lot of the more inappropriate material was cut. The story was also changed around to make it move along at a more respectable pace, and I thought that the ending of the movie was much more satisfying than the ending of the book. The film also lets you know who the bad guy is early on, which was a big plus for me. So make sure that you see the movie once you’ve finished the books.