THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES VOLUME ONE: Books 1 and 2

Tony DiTerlizzi, Author, Holly Black, Editor , read by Hank Jacobs. Listening Library $18 (, unabridged, two cassettes, 2 hrs., $18 ISBN ) ISBN 0-8072-1650-X

Judging by this production's title and the spooky notes of introductory music, listeners might guess they are in for a bit of creepy adventure. Unfortunately, much of that eerie undercurrent is lost in Jacobs's chipper interpretation of this work. His inviting, kid-friendly voice is a good match for the humor and bits of sarcasm found here, but Jacobs never fully gets hold of the strange and mysterious (though never overtly frightening) elements of these stories about a trio of siblings who discover a sometimes dangerous world of faeries, boggarts, trolls and other magical creatures. When twins Jared and Simon Grace and their older sister Mallory move into a relative's decrepit Victorian mansion with their mother, their lives get decidedly weirder. Secret passageways, a mysterious field guide and a host of unexplained goings-on are only the beginning of an exciting course for the Graces (five Spiderwick books are planned). One quibble: in what seems like a missed opportunity, the recording does not contain the letters from Black and the Graces that appear at the beginning of the print books and which have provided a premise for the series and some inventive book promotions (a ploy that served Lemony Snicket well). Simultaneous release with the S&S hardcovers. Ages 6-10. (May)

Reviewed on: 06/16/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
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