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

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 11 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Violence & Scariness

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


What 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.

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 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 up... Continue reading
Kid, 10 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 mor... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bykit-kit September 22, 2009

good for teenagers,and 10 year old for good imagination!!

,love it and all other series to the link of the first book!!!!!!!! love them all age 13

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.

Talk to your kids 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

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