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Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You
Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 124 pages
Tony DiTerlizzi
Tony DiTerlizzi was born in 1969 and he grew up in South Florida. He attended the Florida School of the Arts and later at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, where he earned a degree in Graphic Design in 1992. His picture book of Mary Howitt's classic poem "The Spider and the Fly" garnered him the 2003 Caldecott Honor Medal and the moniker of New York Times bestselling author/illustrator. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

The Spiderwick Chronicles Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Spiderwick Chronicles

Holly Black
Holly Black was born in 1971 in New Jersey. After graduating from college, she got a job in New York while working at night on an independent gaming magazine, d8 through which she met illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi. It was also during this time that she began the suburban fantasy novel, Tithe: A Modern Faery Tale. She lives in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Charlene Brusso

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Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You This book is companion to the popular fantasy series The Spiderwick Chronicles, (recommended for readers age 6-10) -- but you don't need to have read the Chronicles, to enjoy this gorgeous tome. Some readers may recall seeing Tony DiTerlizzi's art decorating the pages of White Wolf RPG sourcebooks or other gaming materials. He's also the illustrator of The Spider and The Fly, a 2003 Caldecott Honor Book. Here, he and Holly Black borrow a page from the best-selling "picture" books Aegyptology and Dragonology, reproducing the fabled Field Guide (originally created by faire expert Arthur Spiderwick) meant to provide "insight and information about the life, habits, and habitats of the denizens of the Invisible World," as a bookplate inside the front cover informs us.

The opening chapters contain all manner of helpful information for those seeking to explore the world of fantastical creatures. For example, fairies like milk and are drawn to it; they like lukewarm the best. And for getting rid of them, a bag of salt is likewise handy. Also, make sure your backpack has iron or steel clasps, to keep fairies from stealing your things!

The bestiary itself is divided into chapters based on the various locations where one may encounter faire folk: "Around the House and Yard," "In Fields and Forests," "In Lakes, Streams, and the Sea," etc. Each entry includes color plates of the creature in question, along with reproductions of Arthur Spiderwick's handwritten notes and observations. A good thing to note is that even the most helpful faire folk can be somewhat... eccentric in their work. Some Brownies, for example, usually regarded as good household helpers and protectors, insist on alphabetizing books by the author's middle initial.

Less beneficent creatures like the Cockatrice (resembling a marvelous combination of grouse and frilled lizard) and the North Atlantic Sea Serpent are shown on double-sized fold-out pages. The Sea Serpent fills four pages, and through the translucent skin of its underside you can see a deep sea diver in full rig waiting to be digested. Reading the Hill Giant entry, we learn these enormous beings spend most of their adult life hibernating, which allows their backs to become densely forested habitats in their own right. And where else could you learn that Gargoyles may be a species of pygmy-domesticated Dragon?

For the scholarly reader, Black and Diterlizzi have included an impressive bibliography of (real) books on folklore, fairy and fantastical creatures for further research. Whether you've read The Spiderwick Chronicles or not, this Field Guide is an impressive and entertaining package for all ages -- I know that because I've had to go and reclaim the book from my four year old son at least five times so I could actually read it for the review!

Copyright © 2005 Charlene Brusso

Charlene's sixth grade teacher told her she would burn her eyes out before she was 30 if she kept reading and writing so much. Fortunately he was wrong. Her work has also appeared in Aboriginal SF, Amazing Stories, Dark Regions, MZB's Fantasy Magazine, and other genre magazines.


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