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When Mallory, Jared and Simon Grace stumble upon an old box in the attic of the dilapidated estate they move into, they have no idea what sort of adventures are in store for them. Neither will the children who pick up The Fan+s Guide to The Spiderwick Chronicles. This new guide by Lois Gresh takes young readers beyond the fairy world of the Spiderwick Chronicles and answers the burning questions kids have been aching to ask. With illustrations, quizzes, games, sidebars, facts and trivia, The Fan+s Guide to The Spiderwick Chronicles will provide hours of fun.This book will be the ultimate resource for fans of the series and is the perfect gift for that young reader who can+t get enough of the series or wants to read what the excitement is all about.
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LOIS H. GRESH is the author of numerous books, including The Truth Behind a Series of Unfortunate Events. She lives in upstate New York.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
1So What’s It All About?Dear Reader,In November 2004, I was sitting in my editor’s office, the very same editor who is publishing this book for you. His name is Marc, and he lives in New York City. He told me that every morning as he walks through the city on the way to the publishing house where he works, he sees flicks of light and color that come and go. I asked Marc if he’d seen an eye doctor, and he said, yes, he’d been to many eye experts, all of whom told him that his eyes were perfectly fine.So the next morning, I walked with Marc from his apartment to his office. I saw the same flicks of light and color.But I also saw something more.I saw tiny creatures flitting through the morning air, dancing on the breeze, alighting on the caps of the men who scurried toward their businesses and napping on the noses of fancy women who walked their long-haired Lapodazzickle dogs.On a park bench, five tiny characters—and we’re talking about characters who each stand perhaps one inch tall and weigh less than a hot dog—played lutes (which are sort of like guitars), fiddles (a country-western name for violins, in my opinion), and harps the size of your thumbnail. A man carrying two heavy suitcases sat on the park bench next to them. Well, naturally, I was horrified, thinking that the man was going to crush the five tiny musicians accidentally. As I gasped and bolted towards the bench to save them, the creatures danced into the air over the man’s head. They settled on his bald spot and continued playing their music. I couldn’t hear the songs, for they were probably as faint in sound as the band was small in size.Marc was tugging at my sleeve. “Come on,” he said, “I have to get to work. What’s holding you up?” He didn’t see the fairies.For I knew that’s what they were: fairies.“These flicks of light, Marc, do you see them anywhere else?” I asked.No, he told me, he only saw them while walking to work every morning.A troop of fifty or more fairies scampered from a window onto a bunch of flowerpots. Several were dressed in Victorian garb, which means they were wearing ball gowns and velvet jackets from the late 1800s. Well, actually, the Victorian era was from about 1837 to 1901, when Queen Victoria ruled England. But that’s beside the point ... .These Victorian fairies, along with countless others—some dressed in medieval outfits like torn leggings and tunics, others in astronaut’s helmets and spacesuits (very curious, I thought), and still others in what looked like leaves and bark and nothing more—started digging through the earth in the flowerpots. As they extracted marbles, bits of paper, stones, keys, lint, wads of chewed gum, and half-eaten marshmallows, they jumped with joy and stuffed their new treasures into tiny sacks.Marc stood with me on the sun-dappled sidewalk. He gazed at the flicks of light. I marveled at the fairies.“Lois, what’s it all about?” he said.I turned from the tiny treasure seekers and blinked at my editor. “It’s about magic. It’s about a world we know nothing about, Marc. But it’s there, all around us.”And so, my dear reader, what is it all about? Check out The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.1 Tony and Holly know all about fairies, and if you’ve read their books, then you know all about fairies, too.This book, the very one you hold in your hands, is all about The Spiderwick Chronicles: the characters, the creatures, the places. It has hip, cool, fun facts about the Spiderwick world that you won’t find collected anywhere else. It has games, anecdotes (also known as “little stories that allow the author to ramble incoherently for ten minutes”), and little-known references about goblins, griffins, fairies, dwarves, dragons, elves, ogres, unicorns, trolls, and other magical fantasy creatures. I hope it’s as much fun for you to read as it was for me to write.
So let’s begin ...What is it all about, this world of The Spiderwick Chronicles?The first book is The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide (Book One of Five), and it was published in 2003 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers in New York City. In this first book Jared Grace, his identical twin Simon, and their sister Mallory, go to live in their elderly Aunt Lucinda’s dilapidated (which means “ramshackle”—which doesn’t have anything to do with rams but rather means “broken down and in great need of repair”) carriage house. From the description in the book, this house looks really creepy. If I had to live in a house like that, I would have nightmares.Jared and Simon are in fourth grade. Their sister is a little older and likes to fence with swords. This is a very unusual hobby for a fourth grader, and it comes in handy later in the Spiderwick books. Now, I have an older brother, and while he never spent Saturdays swordfighting in our backyard, he did have a plastic blow-up punching bag in our basement. He was extremely skinny, so he looked pretty silly punching a plastic blow-up bear, and I don’t think the effort of punching the plastic bear built up his muscles at all. As for me, my hobbies were chasing frogs, riding my bike, and walking on the tops of fences. I would have been afraid to swordfight when I was Mallory’s age.But let’s return to rams for a moment. When the three kids arrive with their mother at Aunt Lucinda’s ramshackle house, they immediately learn a few things: first, that the door knocker is in the shape of a ram’s head (and now we can dispense with rams for the rest of this book); second, that despite the fact that it’s as large as twelve shacks, the house indeed looks like a pile of shacks; and third and perhaps most important, that the house is weird and mysterious.Does your apartment or house have a knocker on the front door? My house does not have a door-knocker. If it had a ram’s head knocker, I’d certainly wonder why, and in fact, I’m still wondering why Aunt Lucinda’s house has a ram’s head door-knocker.In the ram’s head house, something seems to be living in the kitchen walls. Whatever this thing is, it’s tiny, it collects bits of debris, and it also causes a lot of trouble.If you live in the city, perhaps mice live in your kitchen walls. If you live in the country, you might have a squirrel in there, but it’s unlikely. Though my neighbor tells me that he regularly rounds up gigantic, fifty-pound raccoons in his yard, so if I ever hear a racket in my kitchen walls, it might be due to a pack of fat raccoons.While Jared, Simon, and Mallory try to figure out what’s in the walls, not thinking for a second that they might have raccoons, Jared must cope with the fact that he’s been getting in trouble and failing in school ever since his father left the family. Jared’s mother, used to her son getting in trouble by now, immediately blames him whenever something goes wrong. This is very depressing for Jared. Sure, he’s miserable because his father left them and now they’re poor and his mother works all the time and, well, he just misses having his whole family together; but still, he doesn’t want to get in trouble all the time and flunk out of school. So Jared is sad and confused.I expect that most kids would be sad and confused if they were in Jared’s shoes. It’s tough when you’re in a family with only one parent and there’s not enough money to pay the bills. It’s no fun to leave your friends and move far away to a place that reminds you of a haunted house. And it’s not as if people are understanding, so if your grades start to slip, people just look at you as if you’re always going to be a failure. It’s hard to get them to change their opinion about you. So it makes sense that Jared is sad and confused, doesn’t it?At night, Mallory hears the creatures in her bedroom walls. With the loudest noises coming from the kitchen, the three kids sneak downstairs in the middle of the night to investigate. They find a dumbwaiter, an old device used to send things from the kitchen to other floors in the house. Jared climbs in, armed with a bit of candle, and he ends up in a secret library room, where all the books are about weird things like fairies.When I was Jared’s age, I would have climbed into a dumbwaiter in the kitchen wall, too. I doubt that I would have done it with a bit of candle, though. I might have used a flashlight, but then, I had one of those and I didn’t own any candles. Nor did I know where my mother kept matches. Plus, she would have killed me if I played with matches and candles!When Mallory wakes up the next morning, her hair is tied to the bedposts, and it takes their mother forever to unknot her. Of course, Jared is blamed, despite the fact that he had absolutely nothing to do with it. Depressed, Jared returns to the secret library room, where he finds a note waiting for him. The note tells him to look for a man’s torso, and Jared figures out that the riddle means that he should look in a nearby “treasure” chest. The chest belonged to someone named Arthur Spiderwick.Right away, we (the readers) know that Jared is actually smart. His teachers may throw him out of school, but here he figures out a difficult riddle to find a treasure chest.In the chest, Jared finds The Field Guide about fairies.I should note that, although I’m a grown-up woman, I love Tony DiTerlizzi’s illustrations throughout the five Spiderwick books. For example, look at the drawing of Jared on page 35 of Book One. How can you help but like Jared after seeing this picture of him? And how about the drawing of Mallory with her hair tied to the bed on page 42? That’s just too funny!Well, while Jared is learning about fairies in the secret library room, Mallory is fencing with Simon in the yard. Specifically, Mallory has Simon up against the ruins of a carriage house, and his thrusts and parries are becoming weaker and weaker. A long time ago, I was playing catch with my older brother, and I tossed the ball to him. It hit his mouth (by accident, I swear!) and broke a tooth. My father was furious and spanked me much too hard, and my mother held the “tooth incident” against me for years. In fact, she finally stopped bringing it up maybe five years ago, and I’m pretty old by now. This “tooth incident” followed me around forever. Had I forced him against a fence using a sword, I would have been thrown out of the family and sent to an orphanage or foster home. Mallory’s lucky that her mother never pays attention to what she’s doing with those swords.Anyway, when Simon is under attack he uses a parry, which deflects (meaning “pushes away”) Mallory’s sword. He doesn’t seem to have the skills to make a riposte, which is a quick return thrust.My guess is that Mallory uses a foil, one of the three main types of swords used by fencers. The other two types are the épée and the saber. A foil has a flexible blade and weighs about one pound. The épée is about the same length as the foil—thirty-five inches—but the épée weighs about twenty-seven ounces, meaning it’s almost twice as heavy as the foil. The épée is actually the modern version of the dueling swords used long ago. Remember when men in movies and books would duel each other with swords over a woman, some land, or just their honor? They were using old-fashioned épée swords. The épée has a much stiffer blade than the foil and is probably more dangerous and less likely to be used by a young girl.And then there’s the saber. Mallory definitely is not using a saber with her brother, Simon. Sabers were used by cavalries, or armies, long ago. The blade isn’t at all blunt; rather, it cuts. This is a very nasty weapon.With Aunt Lucinda living in an institution and their mother often gone either to work or the grocery store (her life sounds a lot like mine), Jared, Simon, and Mallory explore the house, read The Field Guide, and look for the creatures who dwell in the walls. Jared thinks the creatures might be brownies, pixies, or boggarts (see chapter 5 for the lowdown about brownies, pixies, boggarts, and all sorts of other magical creatures).Now what do you think The Field Guide suggests you do if you want to find a brownie or boggart in your house? Do you play harp music? Do you excel at basketball because maybe, just maybe, boggarts are All-Star Hoopsters? Do you bake ten trays of brownies and leave them all on the counters so the brownie feels right at home? Do you tap dance at midnight? Personally, I’d try the ten trays of brownies and the tap dancing, but that’s not what The Field Guide says to do.The Field Guide suggests that a person sprinkle flour or sugar all over the floor to capture the footprints of the brownie or boggart living in the house. That’s pretty clever, I think. And if you’re wondering what a boggart is, according to the Field Guide, it’s a brownie gone bad.Rather than tap dance, Jared does as the book instructs: he scatters flour on the kitchen floor. He also puts out a saucer of milk, hoping to attract his brownie/boggart. Maybe he thinks boggarts are like cats and can’t resist saucers of milk. Or maybe he thinks boggarts like Froot Loops cereal, and the milk will attract them to the kitchen to find the cereal in the pantry. Or maybe he’s just doing what The Field Guide tells him to do, which could be the case, given that I made up all that stuff about boggarts being like cats or liking Froot Loops cereal. At any rate, as you might guess, his mother catches him and sends him back to bed.Of course, by the next morning, the brownie/ boggart has destroyed the kitchen, and poor Jared gets in trouble yet again. But the footprints are there, so clearly there’s some magical little guy running around the house.My kitchen usually looks a mess when I get up in the morning. It’s never occurred to me that a boggart might be causing me all this trouble. I’ve always assumed it was my son Dan, who eats huge amounts of pizza every night. Is it possible that someone else is in the house with us, someone with a huge appetite for pizza and a huge habit of littering the counters with pizza crusts and sauce?We don’t have a dumbwaiter here, so there’s no way for me to ride up and down holding a candle stub and seeking a secret room in the house. But there is an old chimney. I wonder if I can crawl around in there, looking for the entrance to a secret room of fairy wonders.Let me think further about all this ... .We do live in an ancient Victorian house, though ours is small compared to the one in which Jared lives with his brother, sister, and mother. But our walls are thick, so they may indeed contain hidden rooms.The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that Dan and I have a boggart living in the house with us. It all makes perfect sense. After all, Dan is tall and thin, yet the kitchen is destroyed every morning with food debris, so it’s logical to conclude that a boggart is eating all the food and leaving crusts and sauce everywhere.At any rate, Jared finally takes Simon to the secret room, where the two boys encounter the boggart for the first time. His name is Thimbletack, and he’s tiny. He talks in riddles.As The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Seeing Stone (Book Two of Five opens, Jared gets in trouble at school for drawing pictures of brownies and boggarts in class instead of paying attention. Angry, he rips a kid’s notebook in half and then falls into a funk...
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