Why do you think the Spiderwick series has been so successful?

Honestly, the series was much more successful than I ever could have imagined. In the beginning, when I pitched the concept to editor, I really just wanted to do a John James Audubon-esque field guide to fairies, trolls and goblins. There was a loose backstory on Arthur Spiderwick, the fellow who created this guide; which, of course, was what intrigued my editor the most.

We soon realized that we were discussing two books—the illustrated field guide and the story of Spiderwick. While on tour for The Spider & The Fly I spoke with many children, from kindergarten to fifth grade, and realized the gamut of reading ability varied from child to child. I wondered if Spiderwick’s story could, perhaps, speak to readers young and old.

My editor and I realized that maybe there was more to the Spiderwick story than one big middle-grade novel. Enter Holly Black, a writer I admired, who understood fairy folklore as she had been helping me research Spiderwick’s field guide.
With Holly on board, we set the story in the modern day with contemporary kids and broke the novel into shorter books aimed for 7 to 10 year-olds. It became more a serial than a series, with plenty of artwork to visually break up the text.

Holly was encouraged to keep the tone of the books a tad older than the usual fare for the age range we now had in mind. Summoning my memories of Arthur Rackham’s eerie work, I tried to mirror that tone visually. The result was  a series of books aimed for a young audience but presented in a sophisticated package reminiscent of old fairy tales.

I feel we achieved much more success with this series than we imagined. I take comfort in the fact that we concluded on a high note with plenty of titles to enjoy, but not so many that the specialness of the series became diluted.

Back to FAQ

Never Abandon Imagination Tony DiTerlizzi: Never abandon imagination.

Imagination is a world of possibility that exists within each of us. It is what makes us uniquely human. It is our creative fingerprint that touches and influences the world around us. Imagination is essential to art and science; to innovation and prosperity. It gives us hope, calls us to action and leads to change.

Whether it’s fairies, dragons, robots or aliens, all of my children’s book characters are siblings born of my imagination – an imagination strengthened through years of encouragement from family, teachers and friends. While so many others abandoned it during their transition from childhood to adulthood, I fiercely held onto mine, hoping for a day when I could share it to inspire the next generation of dreamers. Innovators. World changers.

Imagination empowers us to envision and create a reality of what could be. We must hold it dear, foster it and never abandon it.