Book Review: the Spiderwick Chronicles: Great Escape by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

This is a special version of parts of the second book in the Spiderwick Chronicles, which is the Spiderwick Chronicles: Great Escape (Young Adult 64 pages) by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.

“Dear Reader, One day we were doing a group signing at a large bookstore. When the signing was over a clerk approached us. He said that there had been a letter left for us. When we inquired which one of us, we were surprised by his answer. “Both of you,” he said. That letter changed our lives. It was from three children who claimed, “We know about real faeries. In fact, we know a lot about them.” What has happened to us since we read their letter is hard to describe. We have been plunged into a world we never quite believed in. One particularly thrilling part of their tale is recounted here along with a story that wasn’t discovered until after the original Spiderwick books had been published. There’s so much you need to know, so read carefully. There is an invisible world around us and we hope that you, dear reader, will open your eyes to it. DiTerlizzi and Black.”

In the first book, Jared, Simon, and Mallory Grace move to an old house with a secret library and encounter a boggart. The boggart makes things a little uncomfortable for them and they wind up making amends and learning about a Field Guide written by a relative named Arthur Spiderwick.

In the second book, Simon gets snatched by a group of goblins and Jared and Mallory work to find him and rescue him. Along the way, Jared’s temper gets the better of him again and he winds up being a bit mean to Thimbletack when Thimbletack tries to help them out against the goblins. When Jared and Mallory find Simon, they also rescue a hobgoblin named Hogssqueel who assists with their escape and provides them with goblin spit, which gives them the ability to see the fairy world without use of the Seeing Stone.

This small book gives a small portion of the second book and then an additional story about Hogssqueel and his adventure in captivity. There are also several informative pieces at the back that are designed as articles from the Field Guide itself.

This book was obviously intended for a very young audience, as the story-telling is very quick and lyrical with short, descriptive paragraphs. There’s also a selection of character portraits and drawings from the story itself, which gives the book something of a classic feel with a map in the front and continued drawings throughout the story. I liked the drawings and felt that they added a good visual depiction of the characters and events, but I learned to not look at the pictures until after I’d read all the words on open pages because the pictures gave away some of the upcoming plot or character elements in each part of the story. One of the interesting things about this series to me is that I often feel as though the faery characters described in each book so far are not exactly like the “normal” or “standard” options. The brownies, boggarts, phooka, elves, sprites, trolls, and goblins are so far mostly unique in their interactions in the Spiderwick Chronicles versus the descriptions of faery characteristics in other works.

Overall, I liked the characters and the world-building is interesting. These are really quick reads and I like reading them when I have an hour to spare, since that’s how long it usually takes me to get through them. I think this book is a low three on my scale, since they’re tons of fun for a quick read, but designed for a much younger audience.

Works cited: DiTerlizzi, Tony and Black, Holly. The Spiderwick Chronicles: Great Escape. New York: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2007. Original print 2003.

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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