Beyond The Spiderwick Chronicles
The Nixie's Song
By Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
A fun little romp back into the world of Spiderwick, I think the concept of this book is just the kind of thing that gets kids using their imagination. The cameo of the authors is pretty funny. Absolutely a book I would read again, and share, and most importantly, read TO children, and encourage them to read themselves.
The Spiderwick Chronicles leave the old-fashioned charm of New England far behind and head south for some fiendish faerie fun in the hot Florida sun. Eleven-year-old Nicholas Vargas only thinks his life has been turned upside down after his developer father remarries and moves his new wife and daughter into the soon-to-be completed Mangrove Hollow.
But an "expedition" to a nearby lake turns up a little nixie with a giant problem - the huge, lumbering, fire-breathing variety - and it's up to Nick; his stepsister, Laurie; and his big brother, Julian (plus a familiar face from the original Spiderwick Chronicles) to figure out the best way to stop a host of rampaging giants before all of Florida goes up in smoke.
Nick Varcas ~ The main character, Nick narrates the story. He's just found himself with a new mother and stepsister (Laurie). Nick is an honest kid with a realistic outlook on his own place in the social pecking order. He's pissed off about having to give up his room for Laurie, and all in all, he's taking the barrage of new sister and new mother pretty well, in my opinion, especially when he's given the task of spending his time getting Laurie acclimated.
Laurie Varcas ~ The new stepsister in the Varcas house, Laurie seems kind of like a nerd, she's gangly and believes in faeries and magic. Don't be fooled though, Laurie isn't quite as square as she seems... and when reality hits, it hits her hard. She finds out quickly that fairytales aren't all cute and cuddly endings.
Julian Varcas ~ Nick's older brother, hasn't really come into play much other than giving them a lift to a bookstore. More of a jock type.
Taloa ~ The Nixie who enlists Nick and Laurie to help her find her kin.
Mr. Varcas ~ Nick and Julian's Dad, Laurie's stepdad, he's building a neighborhood in the area where all this is taking place, and he seems unreasonably harsh on Nick a few times, considering what a good kid Nick is supposed to be.
Charlene Varcas ~ Nick and Julian's new stepmom, Laurie's mom... she really hasn't come into the story too much yet.
Others ~ There were of course other characters, but I think they're better left undescribed, as they are fun little surprises in the book.
Being a middle grade book, this is a quick, adorable read. I was thrilled to see characters come back from the original series, as well as the introduction of new characters. There is also the addition of having the authors as characters in the book... unhelpful ones at that, which is great. For me, this addition of the real world (as well as the plugging of their Field Guide) really just adds to the fun and magic of the series. Brilliant marketing campaign? Well, yeah... but when you're a kid, you don't look at things that way, you look at this story, about faeries, and then you see all this supporting text, and you see the results of what happens when you try to find people who know something about it... and you know this magic is real, and you're just on your own. It's really pretty brilliant. I am all for keeping the magic in the world for kids as long as possible, and I think The Spiderwick Chronicles does an amazing job at this.
The story itself is pretty simple, but like the original Spiderwick Chronicles, has room to layer and layer and layer other stories around it. You can already tell that Laurie and Nick are in deeper than they even know, and the shocking ending of this first book really points out the facts that faeries aren't cute.
This is a great book to encourage kids to read on their own, or to read to them. There is opportunity to really get into the voicing and have fun with it.