October 25, 2005 in Books

Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You

It all began with a strange, mysterious correspondence left for authors Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black at a small New England bookstore. Written by three siblings, the letter told of their great-great-uncle Arthur Spiderwick and an unfinished tome filled with eyewitness accounts of creatures otherwise thought to be the stuff of legend. In the #1 New York Times bestselling serial the Spiderwick Chronicles, readers were enthralled by the account of the those siblings, Jared, Simon, and Mallory Grace, as they battled dwarves, goblins, elves, and a diabolical ogre in their efforts to hold on to their uncle Spiderwick,s life work. Now, through the combined efforts of the Grace children and authors Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, Simon & Schuster is thrilled to present that work to you!

Beginning with a thoughtful and informative introduction, progressing through six exhaustive sections featuring thirty-one faerie species, and culminating with an addendum that includes observations supplied by Jared Grace, this long-awaited compendium to the worldwide Spiderwick phenomenon delivers enough information to satisfy even the most demanding faerie enthusiast. Not only will readers learn the habits and habitats of the fourteen fantastical creatures featured in the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling chapter books, but they will be delighted and astonished by an additional seventeen creatures. Also included are dozens of snippets from Arthur Spiderwick,s personal journal as well as cameos from a few series favorites.

With so much to offer, this book is destined to be pored over for generations to come!

REVIEWS

Los Angeles Times
December 4, 2005 SundayFAVORITE BOOKS OF 2005: Wyrms, Clumps and their Habitat

EVER since Harry Potter first went to Hogwarts, the field of young adult fantasy novels has been growing at the speed of a unicorn’s gallop. Among them are the novels in “The Spiderwick Chronicles” series created by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, featuring 13-year-old Mallory Grace and her twin brothers, Jared and Simon, who encounter all sorts of faeries after moving to the abandoned estate of Arthur Spiderwick, their great-great-uncle. Spiderwick mysteriously vanished in 1935, leaving behind a wife, a daughter and his life’s work, “Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You” (Simon & Schuster: 124 pp., $24.95), which aids the Grace children in their adventures.

The field guide is just the sort of book for children to share with their parents in a big easy chair. Peeking from its pages are the toothy, grinning house brownie, which often hides as a mote of dust, and the wandering clump, a faerie masquerading as tall weeds. Also included are several lavish full-color pullouts — get ready to ooh at paintings of the North American griffin and the Old World wyrm — that position the fictional Spiderwick as the John James Audubon of the faerie world. Not all faeries are cute as Tinker Bell, however, and later pages of the guide present chilling banshees, spitting gargoyles, a trickster called the black phooka and the insect-like will-o’-the-wisp, which uses its ghostly glow to lure travelers off trustworthy forest paths.

Unlike the old wardrobe leading into C.S. Lewis’ Narnia, no special entrance into the Spiderwick faerie realm is needed. As an introductory note explains: “It is all around you. In ancient forests. Beneath the still earth and rolling waves. Among the clouds and even under your own roof.” This guide draws deeply on the lore of many world traditions and feeds young imaginations with a rich alternative to the stories and fables of the PlayStation and Xbox. – Nick Owchar

Booklist
Gr. 4-6. With ties to the tradition of medieval bestiaries as well as the authors’ Spiderwick series of fantasy fiction, this beautifully illustrated book purports to be the painstaking restoration of a century-old guide to “the denizens of the Invisible World.”

In the first volume of the Spiderwick series, three children find their ancestor’s original field guide and encounter creatures described within it. Here that field guide is reproduced. Its tawny pages carry information and graceful gouache and pencil illustrations of strange creatures from household brownies to freshwater nixies, from humble sprites to flamboyant cockatrices, from lowly fire salamanders to high-flying griffins.

Occasional foldout pages extend the pictures to show larger beasts, such as a sea serpent or a dragon. Accompanying sepia notes set in cursive contribute to the illusion that Arthur Spiderwick was a naturalist observing the world around him. Readers who devoured the five-volume Spiderwick series will enjoy poring over the handsome pages of this large-format book. And others insistent on reading nonfiction books about the creatures of fairy will find it equally beguiling. –Carolyn Phelan

Downloads

Fellow fairyologists! Click here to download a SPIDERWICK Elven Mask that you can decorate yourself! (pdf format)
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