Literature: The Spiderwick Chronicles

Their world is closer than you think.

The Spiderwick Chronicles is a series of children's books by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. 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 field guide, written by their great-great-uncle Arthur Spiderwick, detailing a world of faeries that they never knew existed.

It consists of the following books:
  1. The Field Guide
  2. The Seeing Stone
  3. Lucinda's Secret
  4. The Ironwood Tree
  5. The Wrath of Mulgarath

A sequel series, Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles, has two step-siblings having to find a way to stop a rampage of fire breathing giants threatening the state of Florida.

Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles consists of:
  1. The Nixie's Song
  2. A Giant Problem
  3. The Wyrm King

There are also some companion books, including a reproduction of the Field Guide itself.

The original series has a 2008 film.

DiTerlizzi has also written a separate fantasy series called WondLa that has its own page.

The books provide examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: The Field Guide provides much information about the invisible world not covered in the series.
  • All Trolls Are Different: They're semi-aquatic with long floppy ears and point noses.
  • Always Identical Twins: Simon and Jared
  • Big Bad: The ogre Mulgarath.
  • Bluff the Impostor: When Mulgareth pretends to be the kids' missing dad, Jared sees right through it and tests him.
  • Broken Masquerade
  • Call Receival Area
  • Captive Push: In the last book, Mallory and Jared allow themselves to fake being captives. Their hands are loosely tied, and a rope connects each of them to each other, as they are pushed along by Hogsqueal.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Hogsqueal in the last book. He betrays the kids for Mulgarath, yet he's the one who kills the ogre when he turns into a bird.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Hogsqueal.
  • Clockwork Creature: Dwarves have a passion for building these, wanting creatures as long lasting as they are.
  • The Fair Folk
  • Fairy Tale
  • The Full Name Adventures
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Quite literally in the first series, to the point that "crap" almost becomes Mallory's catchphrase. The second series turned this Up to Eleven with use of "What the hell" and Jared calling Nicolas a "lard-ass"! The Moral Guardians weren't happy.
    • There's also this exchange in The Ironwood Tree where Jared notices that Mallory's fencing armor makes her chest look big:
    Jared: "Looks like you've got..."
    Mallory: "Shut up!"
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: The Seeing Stone
  • Idiosyncratic Chapter Naming: Every chapter begins with "In Which..."
  • In Which a Trope Is Described: All chapters of both series.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Chapter 7 of The Nixie's Song is titled "In Which We Nearly Break The Fourth Wall."
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis: It's said the authors took the real stories of the Grace children (and changed their names for privacy's sake) as well as reproduced the Field Guide. The sequel series has a character that's read the previous books and the field guide and they even try getting the help of the authors at a book signing.
  • Mad Lib Fantasy Title
  • Meaningful Name: Jack, who kills giants.
  • Missing Mom: Nick's mom died prior to the beginning of Beyond.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The faeries seen throughout the series borrow many traits from various plants and animals. Word of God has said that, seeing as faeries are the spirits of nature, it would make sense for them to appear this way.
  • Motif: Spider motifs appear throughout the first series, the most obvious being the Spiderwick name. Other notables include the web-like design of the estate gate, and Arthur Spiderwhick's handwriting which is described as spidery.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Fighting the Giants in the second series resulted in the Wyrms being able to run rampant.
    • Jared reading the book in the first place.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Surprisingly averted in "Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles" where one of the mermaids has clearly visible nipples.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Mulgarath's dragons are serpentine, multi-legged and venomous. The Hydra is numerous wryms combined like a rat king, rather than a single creature with numerous heads.
  • Our Fairies Are Different
  • Our Giants Are Bigger
  • Our Gryphons Are Different: Byron follows the typical classical gryphon body design, but the head is quite different, having a slender beak with teeth/tooth like serrations and ears more similar to those of lions than of the typical griffin ears. The movie made him a regular gryphon though.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Thimbletack the brownie rhymes at almost all times.
  • Scavenged Punk: Thimbletack provides the page image. As a brownie, he lives in the walls and steals human items for his home. Drawn by Tony DiTerlizzi, it looks very cool.
  • See-Thru Specs: The Seeing Stone. Hobgoblin spit acts as a permanent version.
  • Shapeshifter Guilt Trip: Mulgarath takes the form of the kids' dad to try to trick them into giving him the book. Not quite a straight example, as they don't know it's him.
  • Shape Shifter Swan Song: Averted. Hogsqueal eats Mulgarath in bird form, and he doesn't change back to his native form — rather fortunately for Hogsqueal!
  • Storming the Castle: In the books. The movie has the fight arriving on the doorsteps of the house.
  • Unusual Euphemism: In the books, Hogsqueal is prone to using these.
  • Urban Fantasy


The film provides examples of:

  • Angel Face, Demon Face: Thimbletack is normally a brownie, which is a small, pink little thing. He turns into a more muscular, green, mini-troll like thing, known as a boggart, when he's mad.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The film uses "Checkmate" by Yuugin as its theme song in Japan.
  • Ascended Extra: Red Cap was originally just a Goblin that appeared in the final book of the original, who looked important, and gave only a few orders to the captured protagonist. In the movie he's The Dragon, given intelligence by the Big Bad.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Thimbletack, thanks to his love of honey, is easily distracted from anger. Hogsqueal and birds too.
  • Brick Joke: Hogsqueal and his appetite for birds. It gets dropped on Mulgarath's head like a ten-ton anvil.
  • Brooklyn Rage: The "New Yorkers are tough" variant. When preparing to Hold the Line at the end of the movie, Jared gives his mother two kitchen knives to fight with.
    Jared: "Steel. Cuts and burns."
    Helen (still rather confused): "Well, thank goodness we're New Yorkers."
  • Car Fu
  • Curse Cut Short: Red Cap the lead goblin mumbles "Oh, sh-" as the stove full of tomato sauce explodes.
  • Disappeared Dad: The dad in question not only left the family, but is lying to Jared about coming to see him. He can't, because he's found another woman.
    • The same applies to Lucinda Spiderwick's father, Arthur Spiderwick, the creator of the book. She witnessed him being carried away by fairies after she wandered outside of the protective circle around their house and was attacked by goblins. No one believed her when she told people about what happened to him for obvious reasons.
  • Hold the Line: The Grace family defends their house against Mulgarath and the Goblins.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: British Joan Plowright as the older Lucinda Spiderwick. Especially notable since we hear her 8-year-old self speaking with an American accent.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the books, Arthur dies at the end. In the movie, he stays with the Sylphs, but his daughter also comes with him, and reverts to the same age she was when he was taken away.
  • Tricking the Shapeshifter: Jared throws the book into the air, forcing Mulgarath to take on a crow form to grab it. Shortly thereafter he runs into a very hungry Hogsqueal, much to his detriment.
  • Tomato Sauce Weakness: Vinegar and salt are also effective.