Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi.
I have been trying for ages to get my seven-year-old to embrace chapter books. Finding something that has short chapters, pleasantly distracting pictures and an exciting—but not too exciting—plot has been a challenge. For a while I had suspected that the children’s fantasy series The Spiderwick Chronicles would appeal to his love of magical creatures as well as his short attention span. When I finally remembered to put a hold on one of the books, I felt hopeful. We read the first couple chapters of The Field Guide together, hoping if I could get him interested in the first of the five novels that the rest would follow on its own. And it worked! Although he complained a couple times during his required reading time, those complaints became fewer and fewer. He is now on the third book and he read well beyond the 20 minutes and didn’t once ask how much time had elapse.
This was a huge victory, but I’ll never let him know. A quick summary of the first book:
Due to their mother’s financial problems, nine-year-old twins Jared and Simon and their thirteen-year-old-sister Mallory are forced to move into an old abandoned family estate in Maine called Spiderwick Estate. When he climbs in the old dumbwaiter, Jared discovers a secret library on the second floor with a poem loaded with clues which eventually lead him to a field guide to fantastical creatures. They discover that a whole world of faerie folk, brownies, sprites, goblins, exist and in their hands is the secret to finding and understanding them.
Great bedtime read for kids. Exciting without getting scary, clever and interesting, and written by two fantastic children’s/young adult authors.