Gr 3-6-As this new series begins, Jared, Simon, and Mallory Grace move with their mother into their Great-Aunt Lucinda's old, decaying house, where they discover a secret room. A poetic clue leads Jared to a book that offers detailed information about the different types of magical creatures that live in our world. After the inadvertent destruction of the home and treasures of the boggart who inhabits the room leads to increasingly more malicious tricks, Jared is blamed. With the help of the Field Guide, the boy realizes that the small creature is at fault and is able to pacify him. Thimbletack warns Jared and his siblings that reading the book will only lead to trouble, which is what comes to pass in the second volume, when Simon is kidnapped by goblins, leaving Jared and Mallory to come to his rescue. Details like Thimbletack's tiny house, Jared's use of a dumbwaiter to discover the hidden room, and the fights against the goblins will catch readers' attention. However, the Grace children stand out only for surface characteristics like Simon's many pets and Mallory's passion for fencing. Adult characters remain offstage or exist only to discipline and disbelieve the children. The many text-enhancing black-and-white drawings give the "Spiderwick Chronicles" a look that resembles Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" (HarperCollins), and the presentation as based on the Grace children's factual story as told to the authors gives it a similar tone, which should add to the books' appeal. While the characters' lack of depth detracts from the quality of these titles, the fast, movielike pace will grab young readers.-Beth L. Meister, Yeshiva of Central Queens, Flushing, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"With their evocative gothic-style pencil drawings and color illustrations, rhyming riddles, supernatural lore, and well-drawn characters, these books read like old-fashioned ripping yarns."-- "New York Times Book Review" "Appealing characters, well-measured suspense and an inviting package will lure readers...Youngsters may well find themselves glancing over their shoulders."-- "Publishers Weekly," starred review "The books wallow in their dusty Olde Worlde charm: Faeries! Dumbwaiters! Attics! But then, reading has an old-fashioned charm too."-- "Time" magazine