The Field Guide: The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Field Guide: The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Siblings discover a fairy world in charming fantasy tale.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 13 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Adventure planning skills. Information about the sport of fencing. 

Positive Messages

Work together to find solutions to hard problems. Situations are not always what they seem, so ask questions and listen for answers. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The three siblings model empathy, work together even when things are hard, and make amends when they see how their actions have harmed others.

Violence & Scariness

A brownie (household spirit) creeps around in the walls of the house and plays nasty pranks.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Field Guide: Spiderwick Chronicles, by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, is the first (and mildest) book in a captivating five-volume series about three siblings who discover a parallel fairy world. There are mildly scary moments for younger readers, such as when a boggart creeps around in the walls of the house and plays nasty pranks. The family dynamic is interesting: The kids learn to help each other, their mom is mostly irritable and sometimes unfair, and their father recently left them. There are wonderfully Gothic full-page, black-and-white illustrations by DiTerlizzi at the beginning of each chapter. An audiobook version of the series is narrated by Mark Hamill.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAEW30 September 20, 2013

Not for six year olds!

If this was a single book, I might agree with the age 6 rating that common sense has given. Unfortunately it is the first in a series of 5 books that need to b... Continue reading
Adult Written bySamanthaP 1 May 19, 2015

The Field Guide: The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1

I read this book in maybe an hour and a half. I liked how the book never stopped getting interesting. I gave this book a five out of five stars
Teen, 13 years old Written byAmy56471 January 8, 2021


one of the only book series I've fully read through
Teen, 13 years old Written byMypassionissinging March 26, 2020
Well I read the first book in like just about an hour or less. A very quick read if you ask me, but it would have been better if all the books were just combine... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE FIELD GUIDE: SPIDERWICK CHRONCLES, BOOK 1, 9-year-old twins Jared and Simon and their 13-year-old sister Mallory move with their mother to a decaying Victorian house after their father leaves them. On their first night, they discover a secret library, and later discover a more house secrets and passages. Their adventures destroy the nest of a brownie (house fairy) named Thimbletack, who takes out his rage on the kids and destroys the kitchen. The kids follow clues that lead them to an old, handwritten and illustrated book, Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You, which Thimbletack warns them is full of danger and not suitable for mortals.
The book is filled with details about faeries, boggarts, brownies, and the like, but these are not your Disney fairies -- for the most part they are neither cute nor friendly. At first only Jared is interested, but strange and destructive things are happening around the house, and though their mother blames Jared, his siblings aren't so sure.

Is it any good?

This is a fast, fascinating story and an engaging entry into the world of more mature fantasy storytelling.  Also, the way this physical book is designed, with irregularly cut pages and tons of Gothic-style illustrations throughout, is a delight. The Field Guide: The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1 is small and lightweight, with an old-fashioned feel and an inviting, detailed map. At 107 pages, the story is short enough to appeal to reluctant readers and fast-paced enough to captivate more mature readers while being without seeming babyish for either audience. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the siblings get along in The Field Guide: Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1. The strange goings-on at Spiderwick Estate seem to help them work together toward a common goal; have you ever had a similar experience working with a group?

  • The kids handle their feelings about their father's absence by channeling their pain into another activity. How have you tried to distract yourself from something you didn't want to think about?

  • Have you ever thought about what a world of fairies would be like? Why do you think fairy stories are so interesting to readers? What others have your read? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

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