Book Review: the Spiderwick Chronicles: the Seeing Stone by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

This is the second book in the Spiderwick Chronicles, which is the Spiderwick Chronicles: the Seeing Stone (Young Adult 108 pages) by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.

The summary on the back of the book is covered up by a scrap of paper with a hanging upside-down cat that says, “We said no, still you looked, now instead, someone gets cooked” so I can’t give you an accurate summary from there.

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.

This book was obviously intended for a very young audience, as the story-telling is very quick and lyrical with short, descriptive paragraphs. Most of Thimbletack’s dialogue is done with rhyming and it makes his speech pattern very distinctive and there’s a lot of rhythm to the story. 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. This book also had a color photo of the newspaper article found in the carriage house, which I think might add a bit of perceived authenticity to this book and story.

One of the interesting points of this book is that from the first book through this book, Jared continues having a problem controlling his temper and using violence to resolve issues in his world. This continues to have negative consequences for him and also brings negative consequences to the other people around him as well.

I did appreciate how this story continues to move forward with the different characterization of Mallory. She is competitive in the sense that she takes her fencing very seriously, she uses her skills to attack the goblins even though she can’t see them, and she rushes to help instead of running away. It’s not very often where I’ve read stories with a female character who is more of the skilled protector and defender than her male counterparts, especially not in stories designed for a much younger audience.

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: the Seeing Stone. New York: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2003.

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About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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