What parents need to know
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: 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?