The Spiderwick Chronicles

Star summary: 

3 stars-- character/setting, original reworking of faerie material, plot

Since these are so short, I'll treat them as one book. we really enjoyed these! They seemed to read like one longer book instead of 5 very short ones, so I recommend bringing home 3 at a time at least. The world Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black create is very real. It is original working of familiar fairy material. It also really sounds like it's coming from the perspective of a 9 year old boy; childishly simple at times. The treatment of divorce is sensitive while still showing the deep pain and even havoc it brings to children's lives. All the old friends from fantastical literature are here: elves, fairies, goblins, brownies, hobgoblins, dragons, sprites, and ogres, but with so much originality and individual character.

Cautions? The subject of divorce is painful and should be treated with sensitivity. A book like these is actually an excellent way to broach the topic-- it's not at the center, but it's there, so it's easier to approach it naturally, in a context. Also, these books are a bit gross in somewhat disturbing ways (cats roasted and eaten by goblins, baby dragons nursing on a cow with sharp teeth so she's bloody).

Bottom line?

Talking points:
--The Grace children learn to see a world all around them which many are too blind to see and don't believe exists. Compare this Christians living by faith in this world, believing in a spiritual realm which no one can see. Could read the story of Elisha & his servant in 2 Kings 6 (see John McArthur's words on it here.)
--Similarly, discuss the Eternal aspect to the things we do see, especially the people around us. Consider CS Lewis' words in The Weight of Glory, quoted here.
- How do the Grace children interact as siblings? How do they treat their mother? Was their father an honorable man? How can they still honor him?

Appropriate audience: the protagonist is 9, however, the stories are short and the vocabulary is very simple, so could be read by those much younger (7), judging on the child (see cautions)

Stars: 3 stars for original re-working of faerie material, believable setting & characters, and interesting plot. Writing style is very simple, there isn't too much by way of solid moral compass-points.

Star rating: 

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