Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Series Spotlight: The Spiderwick Chronicles

I read these wonderful little books earlier this year. My reasons were two-fold: 
  1. I've become very fond of Holly Black's writing in the past year or so. I've always been drawn to novels that delve into folklore, and I really liked her treatment of the fae in The Darkest Part of the Forest
  2. I love Tony DiTerlizzi's artwork SO. MUCH. His illustrations for the covers (and, as I was to discover, contents) of The Spiderwick Chronicles are enchanting and creepy, managing to be both charming and slightly Gothic. 
Though these were being released while I was in the desired age group, and I saw them in my elementary school library. We rubbed elbows, but despite being pretty much the exact target demographic for strange, magical, wonderfully illustrated books, I hadn't read them. Perhaps it was because I hadn't get realised that I was the exact target demographic for such books. Whatever the reason, I'm glad that I got the chance to experience them now.

The Spiderwick Chronicles tell the story of the Grace siblings, Mallory, Jared, and Simon. They move to their Aunt's old house after their mother and father separate and quickly discover that there's something very strange going on in rickety old building. When Jared finds an old book filled with drawing and notes on fantastical creatures that live, unseen, alongside humans, they find themselves in the middle of a clash between supernatural creature, who are interested in the guide for their own reasons.

I bought the Spiderwick Chronicles: The Completely Fantastical Edition, which is a bind-up of the five original Spiderwick books, plus three short stories and some bonus art. It really was a quick and easy world, but I still found the world delightful. While it is very much a Middle Grade novel, with the age of the protagonists and the nature of the plot, it still worked for me. I loved the bonus are as well! It was great to be able to see some of Tony DiTerlizzi's thumbnail sketches and process work. If you'd like to read Spiderwick, especially as an older reader, I'd recommend this edition. It almost feels like reading one longer, complete work, rather than reading five very short books (all are under 200 pages, I believe) in rapid order.

Because I am weak, I also picked up the original hardcovers (the box set was under $25) on Book Outlet a while ago. I just really love the look of them (especially the covers).

And that brings us to one of my favourite books of 2015, looks-wise: Arthur Spiderwick's Guide to the Fantastical World Around You

This is a companion to the Spiderwick novels, filled with wonderful illustrations and facts about the creatures encountered by the Grace siblings in the stories. I was so excited when I found this one on Book Outlet! In addition to being a really interesting reading experience, I LOVED the watercolours in this book. You can see a couple of them on Tony DiTerlizzi's website. (that's where I got the images above).

Overall, I really highly reccomend this series, and not just to Middle Grade readers. The creativity of the series makes it an enjoyable read for anyone who appreciates faerie stories and beautiful art.

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