Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: A Giant Problem

Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: A Giant Problem

Holly Black
Illustrator:   Tony DiTerlizzi 
Fiction  Series
For ages 7 to 10
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2008   ISBN: 978-0689871320

All Nick wants to do is to have a quiet summer playing video games. Instead of having the quiet summer he wants, he is stuck with dealing with his step-sister Laurie and all the craziness that she has stirred up. Thanks to her and her copy of Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide, he can now see nixies and other fantastical creatures, and he is listening to an old man, Jack, tell them how to kill giants. Giants! How the heck is Nick supposed to kill a giant? What if all the giants wake up at the same time and then proceed to destroy Florida? What do Jack and Laurie expect him to do if that happens.

   One evening Laurie and Nick are finally doing something normal (playing video games) when Jack turns up on their doorstep. After giving their father a parent-friendly reason for going out on a rainy dark night, Laurie and Nick head off into the swampy woods. Nick thinks that he is hearing thunder rumbling until he realizes that what he has been hearing are two giants fighting. Jack explains that the giants are fighting over territory. After one is defeated, Jack tries to kill the injured giant and ends up getting injured instead. Nick is now more convinced than ever that the idea of killing a giant is ludicrous.

  The next morning Nick sees a goblin-ish thing in the yard and with Laurie’s help he cages it. The two children also find a message from Taloa, the nixie. She has decided to look for her missing sisters herself and she is clearly furious that they have done nothing to help her.

   Nick thinks that the situation he is in is pretty bad, but it suddenly gets worse when the giants start fighting again and knock houses over and set fire to them with their fiery breath. Nick’s house is one of the homes that is destroyed. Nick, Laurie, and Nick’s brother Jules (yes, he now has the Sight too) go to see Jack, just in time to see Jack being taken away by his son. Nick never really took Jack seriously and now it is too late. Before he leaves, Jack tells Nick that he thinks that the giants are looking for something that they hunt. Nick isn’t sure how this information will help. All he can think about is the fact that it is now up to him, Laurie and Jules to find a way to lure the giants away from humans and their homes before it is too late.

   In this second title in the Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles, the main characters are developed further and Nick, who never thought of himself as being a hero, turns out to have an inner hero after all. Readers are going to find the ending very surprising and they will be eager to find out what happens next.