This article is about the first book in The Spiderwick Chronicles. For the book by Arthur Spiderwick, see Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You.
It opens in Maine, where nine-year-old identical twins Jared and Simon and their thirteen-year-old sister Mallory move into the decrepit Spiderwick Estate with their mother, Helen. On the first night, they discover a secret library on the second floor using a dumbwaiter. They later discover that the library connects to the rest of the house via a hidden door in a hall closet. A brownie named Thimbletack, who has lived in the house for years, becomes angry with the Grace children when they destroy his nest inside the walls, and Jared is blamed for the ensuing havoc wrought by the brownie in retaliation including assaults on Mallory, Simon, and the trashing of the kitchen. Following a clue in the form of a riddle-poem, Jared finds Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You in a secret compartment in a trunk in the attic. The Field Guide is an old hand-written and illustrated book with information on different types of faeries in the surrounding forest. The novel ends as the Grace children make amends with Thimbletack by building him a new home out of an old birdhouse. Thimbletack then warns them that the book which they found is dangerous and was not meant to be in the hands of mortals.
Jared Grace, along with his twin brother, Simon, and his 13-year-old sister, Mallory, moves into an old ramshackle house called the Spiderwick Estate along with their mother, Helen. Helen and the children's father Richard have just divorced, and Helen and her children have moved from a small apartment in New York. It is the children's great-aunt Lucinda Spiderwick who let them live there.
When Jared is about to get his things from the car into the kitchen, he hears something moving inside the wall. He thinks it is a squirrel and doesn’t think so much about it.
Later that night, when their mother is at the grocery store, Jared, Simon and Mallory decide to investigate the sounds coming from inside the walls. When they break the wall open in the kitchen, they find a strange animal nest, filled with one of Mallory's fencing medals, a doll head, dead cockroaches
The small dumbwaiter took him up to a secret library, where there are loads of books about strange subjects and a small note left on the working desk. The text on the note reads:
In a man's torso you will find
My secret to all mankind
If false and true can be the same
You will soon know of my fame
Up and up and up again
Good luck dear friend
Right then, their mother comes home from grocery store, wondering what Mallory and Simon are doing up so late. She then asks where Jared is. They send down the dumbwaiter again, revealing it to be empty. Helen tells them to go to bed, and when she has packed up the groceries, she also go to her bedroom. Suddenly, Jared hears a strange sound, and he sees the text Click clack, watch your back written in the dust on the desk. He becomes terrified, and he suddenly hears how Mallory and Simon send the dumbwaiter up again, making it possible for Jared to get back down. He tells them about the riddle and the text on the desk, but only Simon believes him.
The next day when they wake up, Mallory has scratches on her arms and her hair is tangled to her bed end. The children's' mother suspects that Jared is the guilty one, as he and Mallory had an argument last night.
Later that day, Jared tries to solve the riddle. Thinking of the part Up and up and up again, he goes up to the attic, where he finds an old, dusty book hidden in the false bottom of a chest. The title reads: Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You. He looks in it, and finds that the book is about supernatural beings or Faeries. He goes down and out on the yard, where Simon and Mallory are fencing. Jared shows the book to them, but Mallory calls it "baby stuff" and ignores it.
That evening, Jared shows the content of the book to Simon and discuss whether or not they have a Boggart — a troublesome creature that was once a helpful Brownie — in the house. Late at night, after Jared has read the whole Guide, he goes down to the kitchen and strays flour on the floor in hope of catching some evidence in form of the Boggart's footprints. He also remember reading that Brownies like to drink milk, so he also leaves a bowl with milk at the floor. Right then, his mother discovers him and tells him to go to bed.
The next morning, an angry Helen Grace wakes her son up. A confused Jared follows her down to the kitchen, which is a real mess. Chocolate syrup and orange juice has wet down the walls, eggs have been thrown at the windows, plates and glasses have been broken and thrown out over the floor, and food leftovers lay everywhere. But the worst thing is that Simon's tadpoles he had caught by himself has been frozen in ice cubes and placed in the freezer, together with a note: Not very nice to ice the mice (Simon's mice, Jeffrey and Lemondrop, have disappeared). And, on the place where Jared had strayed flour, tiny footprints is visible, but Helen simply cleans them up and drop the only evidence in a pile of rubbish. Despite that Jared says that it wasn't him, his mother orders him to take the garbage bags outside.
When Jared accidentally rips one of the bags on a sharp branch, he discovers that there are things from the Boggart's nest in the bag. He takes the things and carry them inside.
Jared puts some of the things in a birdhouse, large enough for a crow, and convinces Mallory and Simon to help him. Simon is sent up with the dumbwaiter in the kitchen, while Mallory and Jared discover a secret door through a linen closet that leads directly into the secret library.
Here's a copy of the original edition of Spiderwick book 1 alongside the Anniversary Edition.
They put some more things in the birdhouse, hang it up the in the library and leaves a note with the following text on the floor:
We are writing you to say that we are sorry we messed up your first house. We hope you like what we made and that even if you don't, that you'll stop pinching us — and other things — and that if you have Jeffrey and Lemondrop to please take care of them because they are good mice.
(It was Simon who came up with the text.) The children leave the library.
The following week, their mother calls some people and hire them to repair the house, and therefore, the children don't have a single chance to visit the secret library. In the nights, their mother went patrolling in the corridors. But one day, when Helen went shopping and left Mallory in charge, they ran up to the secret study, and finds that the note is gone. Suddenly, Thimbletack the Brownie appears before them with a pair of leashes attached to Jeffrey and Lemondrop. The tiny Faerie warns them about the book and then disappear.
Table of Contents
- List of Full-Page Illustrations
- Letter from Holly Black
- Letter from the Grace kids
- Map of the Spiderwick Estate and Surrounding Areas
- Chapter One: IN WHICH the Grace Children Get Acquainted with Their New Home
- Chapter Two: IN WHICH Two Walls Are Explored by Vastly Different Methods
- Chapter Three: IN WHICH There Are Many Riddles
- Chapter Four: IN WHICH There Are Answers, Although Not Necessarily to the Right
- Chapter Five: IN WHICH Jared Reads a Book and Sets a Trap
- Chapter Six: IN WHICH They Find Unexpected Things in the Icebox
- Chapter Seven: IN WHICH the Fate of the Mice Is Discovered
- About Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black