Fright Month Post #5: Let’s Get Scared!
In October, we’ll review books and series that ooze with delicious creepy crawlies, heebie geebies and chilly willies.
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (May 1, 2003)
Available in: paperback, hardcover, audible book, audio CD, Kindle, NOOK
At the time of this review there were five books in the Spiderwick Chronicles series and numerous other off shoots, including picture book, a second series, a feature film and more.
“Click, clack, watch your back.”
The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1) is a masterpiece of writing, illustration, art direction and production. It captures the magic of books, taps into the imagination of childhood and harnesses the whims of the commercial market. It is sublime.
Much has been made of this series’ similarity to Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. This is an obvious comparison on many levels, from size of book to Gothic backdrop. But The Spiderwick Chronicles carries a more complex flavoring of the classics, and then layers those influences with contemporary ingenuity.
There are hints of Tolkien and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Old world charm is imbued in the pen and ink illustrations, setting and chapter titles (i.e., Chapter Six: In Which They Find Unexpected Things in the Icebox). Ancient mythological creatures slink through the walls and across the kitchen floor.
Meanwhile, the authors’ fresh dialogue and plot points render this story utterly Now. The family fights through the grief of divorce with short tempers, ruthless fencing and, most important to this story, a new home… a ramshackle Victorian that is the keeper of secrets, the home of faeries and the place of strange occurrences.
The main character, nine-year-old Jared, is a sweetie who is that crestfallen personality: always blamed, never believed and always in trouble. Of course he’s just angry and misunderstood. Meanwhile, his sister’s hair is mysteriously tied to her bed in the dark of night, his brother’s tadpoles are frozen into ice cubes and things that go bump in the night abound.
This creepy, scary, gorgeous story is not only a perfect read for Fright Month, it’s perfect anytime.
What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….