I wanted to read The Spiderwick Chronicles after I saw the movie adaptation on HBO. I found the movie a bit twee for my taste, and I wanted to find out if i
t did the books justice. Luckily I was able to mooch the complete hardcover boxed set from a member in the Netherlands, who very kindly walked to my aunt and uncle’s apartment to bring them over, along with some other books I mooched.
I was actually surprised to find that the movie covered all five books already, which was a bit of a letdown, as I was expecting a longer storyline and more adventures.
The five books were a quick read: short chapters, large fonts, no big words, and a lot of illustrations. I was able to finish the whole series in one day (with a lot of activities in between), and I think that if I was younger, I’d have enjoyed them more.
Don’t get me wrong – the story is imaginative, and I enjoyed DiTerlizzi’s detailed illustrations, but on the whole, it was much too juvenile for me.
I remember feeling the same way reading the first book of A Series of Unfortunate Events (I liked the movie, though). I find it harder to appreciate books that talk down down to the reader, even if the book is meant for younger readers. There’s a certain snootiness to the tone that annoys me, like the author / narrator is speaking slowly to make sure the reader understands all the words.
It’s still a success though, at least for its intended age group, and the authors have expanded into a second series: Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles. I was able to read the first book, Nixie’s Song, for a review I was writing last year, and it has new characters (although Jared, Simon and Mallory appear in it too, and even cameos of Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi) and more faeries, so kids are bound to enjoy that too. But I like the characters in Nixie’s song better, Nick and Laurie are much more interesting than the Graces and have better dynamics.
I’d recommend the series for kids who are making the transition into chapter books, but for the same genre and roughly the same age group, I think Elizabeth Kay’s Divide series (The Divide, Back to the Divide, and Jinx on the Divide), while virtually unheard of, trumps Spiderwick big-time.
My copy: hardcover boxed set of The Spiderwick Chronicles; hardcover Nixie’s Song
My rating: Spiderwick, books and series: 3/5 stars; Nixie’s song: 3.5/5 stars