The Field Guide by Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi

Title: The Field Guide
Author: Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi
Series: The Spiderwick Chronicles #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s
Release Date: 5/1/2003
Length: 128 pages
Format: Hardcover
Genres: Fiction, Childrens, Fantasy
Challenges: 2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge
Source: Library
Purchase: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★☆☆

When the three Grace children — Mallory, Jared, and Simon — and their mom move into Aunt Lucinda’s old house, readers know there’s magic afoot. The kids uncover a nest of assembled junk, and on a visit to the secret library via the dumbwaiter, Jared finds a note describing “my secret to all mankind.” After a few mysterious pranks that get blamed on Jared, the boy finally digs up the real prize: Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You. Fortunately enough, the kids meet one of the critters listed in the guide — a brownie named Thimbletack — who makes it all “real” and helps provide the book’s suspenseful conclusion: “‘Throw the book away, toss it in a fire. If you do not heed, you will draw their ire.'”

While this book was cute, it didn’t blow me away or anything. I think it will take a little more investment for me to get to loving this series. That said, I did enjoy this first small taste. And I do mean small. This book is so tiny!

Though I’ve gotten past the early stages of reading both YA and picture books, I really haven’t dabbled much with children’s fiction. My experience is pretty much just Liesl & Po (which I read because I love Lauren Oliver). This is the first time I’ve gone into a children’s book without knowing for sure that I’d love it. I do love Holly Black’s curse worker series though, so I was excited. I knew it would be very different, and I have to say I really appreciate the change. She definitely knows how to write for her target age group. I guess I shouldn’t undermine Toni DiTerlizzi’s part in this book. I don’t really know what that part is, but I appreciate it. I’ll also add that I read this at the insistance of my nephew who has become obsessed and proceeded to tell me most of the plot of the second book. Luckily, he talks fast, so I don’t really remember what he said.

The Grace children are your normal quirky children. One like to collect random pets, one likes to fence, and the other is a trouble maker. That’s what I’ve learned about them so far. Though, I have my suspicion that Jared isn’t that much of a trouble maker. This first volume introduces the children as they’re moving into an old, rickety house after their father left them. It gives the book a pretty melancholy feel. One of the twins soon discovers a secret room, and in that secret room he finds The Field Guide, a book about different kinds of fairy creatures. The children have their first encounter with one of these creatures. Madness ensues. It’s all the perfect formula for a childrens fantasy book.

I thought the prose and humor were appropriate for the intended reader. All in all, a pretty good book. It just wasn’t quite enough for me to give it a higher rating yet. Good thing there are more!

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    Some of the books reviewed on this blog were sent to me by the author or publisher for review. I did not receive any payment in exchange for the review nor was I obligated to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of these reviews. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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