The Field Guide: The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1



Ideal summer read for the middle elementary crowd.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Violence & scariness

Mild. A boggart creeps around in the walls of the house and plays nasty pranks.

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is little of concern here, though the mom is mostly irritable and sometimes unfair, and the children's father recently left them. As the series progresses, the themes are a little darker. Parents may want to preview the books going forward for younger readers.

What's the story?

Twins Jared and Simon Grace, and their older sister Mallory, move with their mother to a decaying Victorian house in the first of The Spiderwick Chronicles. There they discover a secret room, and clues which eventually lead them to an old, handwritten and illustrated book, Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You.

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?


In addition to the quick and fascinating story, these books are pleasurable physical objects as well. They're small and lightweight, with irregularly cut pages, and illustrations on nearly every spread, including a map of the area and a couple of color plates, they have a delightfully old-fashioned feel that fairly cries out to be read. Add to that the short length (107 pages) and fluid readability that will appeal even to reluctant readers without seeming babyish, and you may have the perfect summer read for the middle elementary crowd. And maybe even a few adults, too.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the siblings handle their feelings about their father's absence. How does each child (Jared, Simon and Mallory) channel his or her pain into another activity? How does the children's discovery of strange goings-on at Spiderwick Estate help them refocus their energies and work together toward a common goal?

Book details

Authors:Holly Black, Tony DiTerlizzi
Illustrators:Holly Black, Tony DiTerlizzi
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:July 13, 2003
Number of pages:107

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written bymamathree April 18, 2012

Caution to cat lovers!

My older kids loved the story, read them all one summer a few years ago when my boys were 8 and 12. HOWEVER, my 8 year old cat-loving daughter was screaming upset to her very soul when, in book 2, the heroes came upon the goblin camp and found them roasting something on a spit "that looked like a cat"...and then the drawing on the next page shows just that! I pre-read and skimmed over alot of the rest of that chapter, because she loves it otherwise, but i think i'm going to cover the cat on a spit with a well-placed drop of ink (it's a picture of a forest, with cages up in trees, and way down below is the camp of goblins and their fire...small cat but identifiable). she never wants anything to happen to cats, ever, and although it wasn't the cat they knew, it was a cat nonetheless. "Language" refers to many, many instances of name-calling, between siblings, from creatures to humans and each other, etc. funny that you can't recommend it for " x age and OLDER"...only x age and younger. I would say 9 and up...don't know what i'm going to replace tonight's story with, when i "LOSE" the book for a year!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Parent 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 be read together to make sense and complete the story. I read the first one to my son (nearly 8) based on this review, but had to do some serious editing with the remaining four based on language and content. (Several 'Oh Craps,' the word Hell, spilling the beans on the tooth fairy, etc.) It was an excellent series, but should be for older kids.
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

SPiderwick takes its chances.

Spiderwick book 1 was pretty good, pretty short, and pretty... well thats already two pretties too much. The book was great.. blah.. blah.. blah... how much more is there to say?


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