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Cover of The Spiderwick Chronicles Boxed Set, 2004
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster|
|Published||May 2003 – September 2009|
|Media type||Print (hardcover and paperback)|
The Spiderwick Chronicles is a series of children's books by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. They chronicle the adventures of the Grace children, twins Simon and Jared and their older sister Mallory, after they move into Spiderwick Estate and discover a world of faeries that they never knew existed.
The Field Guide was first published in 2003 and followed by four more novels, along with several companion books. A second series, entitled Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles, has also been written, with The Nixie's Song published in September 2007, A Giant Problem published in September 2008, and The Wyrm King published in September 2009.
The Field Guide, the first book in the series, was published in May 2003. It opens in Maine where nine-year-old twins Jared and Simon and their thirteen-year-old sister Mallory move to the decrepit Spiderwick Estate with their mother, Helen. They discover a secret library hidden in the house, and later discover Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You in a chest in the attic, providing them with information on Faeries. A brownie named Thimbletack is introduced and Jared is blamed for some mischief that occurs because of the Faerie's actions.
The Seeing Stone was also published in May 2003. After ignoring Thimbletack's warning, Simon is abducted by a group of invisible goblins. Thimbletack guides Jared to a "seeing stone" created by his great-uncle which gives him the ability to see faeries, called the Sight. Mallory and Jared go searching for Simon, narrowly escaping capture, and find the goblin camp. While rescuing Simon, they meet a hobgoblin named Hogsqueal who convinces them to help him escape in exchange for his help in rescuing Simon. Hogsqueal then spits in their eyes, giving them the Sight permanently. After rescuing Simon, they flee and lead the goblins to a troll, where the goblins meet their deaths. They rescue the rest of the goblin's victims and take an injured griffin back to their house.
Lucinda's Secret was published on October 1, 2003. The Grace children visit their Great-Aunt Lucinda, who is now in a psychiatric hospital. When they speak to her, they learn more about the world of faerie creatures, the Field Guide, and its author, Arthur Spiderwick, who was Aunt Lucinda's father. Arthur had disappeared when Lucinda was still a little girl and the Grace children later find out where he disappeared to when they stumble upon a forest of elves. On their journey they meet Stray-Sods, grass that can move, and a Phooka, a strange creature that talks only in riddles. Jared is captured by the elves, but tricks them by saying he is "Simon" and they promise to keep "Simon" there until they bring the Guide. Jared says he isn't "Simon" but Jared, and they let him out but only by promising them that they will bring the Field Guide to them when it is found.
The Ironwood Tree was published on April 6, 2004. The family attends Mallory's fencing contest at school. During the contest, Jared finds a boy identical to him going through Mallory's bag. He transforms into a smaller kid when Jared attempts to scare him with his knife. When Jared and Simon discover that Mallory has disappeared, they search for her in an abandoned quarry, but wind up being kept prisoner by dwarves. Mallory is revealed to be sleeping in a glass-coffin dressed in medieval garb (similarly to Snow White), with the dwarves saying she is now immortal, so long as she stays in the coffin. Escaping their cage, the twins free Mallory and meet a strange creature, called a Knocker, who tells them the way out by listening to the stones. They next see a huge metal tree, made by the dwarves, the Ironwood Tree. After a narrow escape from the dwarves' mechanical dogs, they make their way out of the tunnel but have to hide before leaving. They secretly watch Mulgarath, a hideous ogre who wants to rule the world, callously order the death of the dwarves for having been tricked into not getting the Field Guide from Jared. The dwarves are mauled to death by the goblins and Mulgarath reveals that he had the Guide the whole time. The siblings escape just after Mulgarath leaves with his goblins and the weapons made by the dwarves
The Wrath of Mulgarath was published on September 7, 2004. The Grace children return from the quarry to the Spiderwick estate, only to find the house in ruins and their mother gone. Hogsqueal the hobgoblin informs them that the house was destroyed by the goblins who have kidnapped their mother and taken her to the palace of their fearsome master, Mulgarath the ogre. Accompanied by Hogsqueal, the siblings journey to Mulgarath's palace, an immense citadel made of garbage where they battle a legion of goblins. Mallory runs the leader through with her sword and is greatly traumatized by having actually killed a living sentient being. Nevertheless she and her brothers defeat the goblins and discover Mulgarath's plan. The ogre has learned from the Field Guide that fresh cows' milk makes young dragons rapidly mature. He has stolen a number of cows and is using them to breed an army of dragons with which he plans to conquer the world. Byron, the griffin, successfully vanquishes the mother dragon and Simon kills the young ones. Infiltrating the palace, they find their mother and father tied up. They release their father, but discover that he is actually Mulgarath in disguise. Jared has Thimbletack wrap chains around Simon and Mallory. The ogre brags of his plan and reveals that the Field Guide is underneath his throne, and Jared mockingly tells Mulgarath that he and his siblings have killed all the dragons. In a rage, Mulgarath flings Simon and Mallory out of the window but Thimbletack's chains hold, and they don't fall far. Jared stabs Mulgarath in the foot with Mallory's sword, then knocks him out of the window. Mulgarath falls, transforms into a swallow and is eaten by Hogsqueal.
The children return home, where they meet Arthur Spiderwick, who had been living with the elves and so had not aged. He and his daughter Lucinda, now an old woman, share a poignant goodbye, and he turns to dust. With Mulgarath defeated, the Grace family is presumably now free to live happily ever after.
This story takes place in Florida, where 11-year-old Nick Vargas lives with his brother, Jules, his weird stepsister, Laurie, his father, Paul, and his stepmother, Charlene, in his father's housing development. Laurie has read the Spiderwick Chronicles and believes in faeries. Nick thinks she is "lame" and wishes she would leave him alone. After finding a four-leafed clover (which allows people to see faeries) he sees a nixie unconscious in his yard, which he and Laurie carry into a nearby artificial pond.
In the following day, the Nixie, named Taloa, gives Nick and Laurie the Sight and sends them to find her six sisters, who were separated when their pond was destroyed. They leave after a faerie fills Nick's father's car with sand to look for Taloa's sisters at her old pond. They find the pond dried, the surrounding forest burnt and the bodies of three of the nixies, accidentally waking up a giant, which they mistook for a hill. They flee from the giant, who becomes hypnotized and calm when it hears Taloa's singing.
The children decide to ask the authors of The Spiderwick Chronicles themselves for advice at a book signing, convincing Jules to drive them. Once there, they are disappointed when Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black don't believe them, but they then run into Jared and Simon Grace, who offer to help them gather useful information. Jared tells them about a giant expert who lived nearby and they plan to meet at his address. The place appears to be deserted, and after a quick incident with will-o'-the-wisps, the kids take several papers including a diagram of a giant trap. While the giant is hypnotized by the nixie's song, the three kids use a rope to tie the giant's foot to its neck. It thrashes around, strangling itself with the cords, leaving the kids horrified at what they've done. When the giant stops moving, an old man called Noseeum Jack ("Noseeum" due to his poor eyesight, and "Jack" being a reference to the story of Jack the Giant-Killer) approaches, revealing to be the son of the giant expert who met Arthur Spiderwick, and a giant slayer himself, killing the giant definitely. He explains that the giants sleep for 500 years at a time and all wake up at once, bringing panic and destruction to anywhere they go, and that soon all of Florida's giants would be waking up.
Nick and Laurie start taking giant hunting lessons from Noseeum Jack, which Nick finds pointless. One night, Jack shows up at their house when their parents are fighting and takes them to see a fight between two giants who had woken up too close to each other. He approaches one of them when it gets injured and is swatted away, hurting his leg. The kids help him to his house and, once home, Laurie gives Jules a keychain containing the four-leafed clover (which they no longer need, having been given permanent Sight by Taloa).
The next day they find a small faerie (who Nick has seen days before) playing with a message that Taloa had left for them, saying she had gone look for her surviving sisters alone. They catch the little faerie, whom Laurie names Sandspur and assumes to be a hobgoblin, based on the Field Guide. Later that day, two giants start fighting near their house. They escape with Jules, who can see the giants, but most of the development is destroyed. They go to Jack's house for help, but instead meet Jack's son (simply called Jack Junior), who tells them that he's taking his father to live with him and his wife. Noseeum Jack apologizes to Nick for not helping them and tells him he kept something for them in his backyard, which Nick doesn't even bother to investigate.
That night, the family stays at a hotel where they try to come up with a plan and Jules shows Sandspur to his girlfriend, Cindy. Based on the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, Nick thinks about the possibility of asking the merfolk to lure the giants to the sea, since they seem to be hypnotized by a nixie's singing. The kids sneak out to the beach, where they find that the mermaids hate land-dwellers and kidnap Jules, promising to let him go and sing the giants to the sea if the kids bring them a fish that has never been in their sea. They steal a tropical fish from Cindy's father's aquarium and race back to the beach. The mermaids are amazed that they completed the task and return Jules. Keeping their promise but intending to trick the humans, the mermaids sing for only a little while and to no effect before disappearing. However, Nick manages to tape their song in a tape recorder, which they intend to use to lure the giants themselves.
After getting Nick's model Viking ship from the hotel, they drive around a route provided by Sandspur of where the giants are, playing the mermaids' song. The giants follow the sound to the sea, where Nick drops the little boat (with the tape recorder) into the ocean. The giants follow it out to sea and the kids go back to the hotel where they find the Grace kids waiting for them with the news that the giants woke up all at the same time because they were there to kill something even worse.
The last book of the Spiderwick Saga, the story starts with the Vargas family going to a family therapist because of the children's latest strange behaviour, which Nick's father thinks is caused by his re-marrying. Meanwhile, sinkholes have been appearing everywhere throughout Florida, where small black serpent-like creatures are vaguely seen by Nick. Under the assumption that these sinkholes are caused by the creatures that the giants were supposed to destroy, the Vargas kids (plus Sandspur) meet up with Jared, Simon and Mallory at Noseeum Jack's house, which is now deserted and has a massive sinkhole in the front yard. After breaking into the house, they find more of Jack's annotations, which compare the hydra, shown as a group of intertwined wyrm dragons, to the legend of the Rat King.
Finally going to Jack's backyard, Nick and Laurie find what Jack had meant to give them: a small pool filled with lime and muck with Taola and two of her sisters, Ooki and Ibi, whom Jack had captured some days earlier. Meanwhile, Mallory goes into the sinkhole to investigate, but finds herself unable to breathe and surrounded by the small snake-like dragons. They manage to get her out and put three of the creatures in a jar. They figure that the creatures produce methane, which makes the air around them unbreathable, and realize that these were the creatures that the giants ate in order to breathe fire (which they originally believed to be salamanders).
Seeing how fast the dragons can grow after feeding them a chunk of pizza, the children all drive to the beach in order to get the giants back to land so they can kill the dragons. Although reluctant at first, the three nixies agree to use their singing to lure the giants, and one of them is taken to the water with Nick and Jared in a surfboard (because since nixies are used to freshwater, salt water hurts their skin). Before they can accomplish this, however, Nick is taken underwater by the merfolk, who tell him how they're glad that the land-dwellers are doomed and give him a magical cap in the process that allows him to breathe underwater. The nixies manage to get some of the giants to follow them to land, where they immediately start eating the small reptiles and fighting each other again. As the children drive away from the giants, their car falls into a sinkhole and only after some time do they manage to get out. A giant then attacks them, being saved by the showing up of Jack Junior, who suddenly decided to listen to his father and come help the children kill the giants (being surprised when they reveal him that killing giants is no longer their plan).
After dropping the nixies in a nearby pond (their reward for having sang to the giants), Jules, Laurie and Nick pass by Cindy's house and notice a large sinkhole close to it. When they go to warn Cindy and her parents, Laurie and Sandspur fall into the growing sinkhole and a tree falls on Jules's legs when attempting to rescue her. When Nick tries to help Laurie get out of the sinkhole, he finds that she still hadn't died from the methane exhaled by the dragons because Sandspur (who had grown to a huge size, revealing himself to be a spriggan) had been eating them, proceeding to eat Nick whole and only regurgitating him when Laurie drops rocks into the creature's mouth to make him sick. Nick and Laurie get out of the sinkhole and go back to meet Jack Jr. and the Grace kids, leaving Jules at Cindy's house waiting for an ambulance (being followed back by Sandspur, back in his small size, like nothing had happened).
Noticing that all sinkholes are connected, they come to the conclusion that the biggest hydra must be in the center, laying the eggs that hatch into the smaller hydras who wander through the tunnels. They notice that the giants are all going to meet that alpha hydra, and Jack Junior leaves to go kill it, followed by the children. There, they meet the giant multi-headed dragon, who had already started to kill the giants that had gathered to fight it. After hurting Jack Junior and the Grace kids, Nick has an idea and realizes it's up to him to save the day. Using the cap given to him by the merfolk so he could safely breathe, he goes into one of the tunnels with Jack's machete so to meet the hydra from below. When he gets there, instead of trying to kill the beast, he cuts the substance that keeps all the dragons together, thus making them separate from each other and easier for the giants to kill.
At the hospital, all the children get their injuries treated, Jules gets back with Cindy, Jack calls his father to tell him what happened, the Grace kids meet their father there and the Vargas family decides to all stay together. The Spiderwick Saga ends with the Vargas going home, being watched by a silent giant in the distance.
Note: The authors are hoping to continue the first five and stop the ending three.
The Spiderwick Chronicles:
Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles:
In the Spiderwick universe, faries usually remain invisible or disguised to human eyes, who are generally not aware of their presence. However, a small percentage of humans have the ability to see faries, commonly called the 'Sight', acquired naturally( for example, by being the seventh son of a seventh son or having red hair) or artificially (by looking through a holed stone or possessing a four-leafed clover). In the series, the Grace children receive the Sight when the hobgoblin Hogsqueal spits in their eyes, and the Vargas kids receive it when they are held under the water that a nixie had been soaking in.
They are portrayed as living many years, so many of the faeries encountered by the main characters also met Arthur Spiderwick and other long-dead humans in the past, without having aged. The species of faries in the series are mainly taken from European mythology and folklore and Medieval bestiaries, including brownies, goblins, dragons, sprites, and elves, among many others.
The Spiderwick Chronicles:
Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles:
DiTerlizzi stated that, due to the collaborative effort he and Black put into the books, there is no individual credit as to who did the writing and who did the illustrations. But three kids left a note for Holly and Tony and let them both see the original field guide in which Tony redid and published. However, Tony was responsible for the illustrations and helped with plot forming, and wrote some sections, but ultimately Holly was the writer and he the illustrator.
A feature film adaptation of the series was released by Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies on February 14, 2008. Directed by Mark Waters, it starred Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, Martin Short, Nick Nolte, and Seth Rogen. It followed the basic overall plot of the five novels in the Spiderwick Chronicles series, but left out the majority of the plot from the fourth book and contained several major differences.
The Spiderwick Chronicles was cast by veteran Hollywood casting director Marci Liroff.