fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Holly Black Care and Feeding of Sprites SpiderwickCare and Feeding of Sprites by Holly Black

Since the publication of the five-part Spiderwick Chronicles there have been three “spin-off” publications: Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You (a copy of the book that featured so heavily in the Chronicles themselves), A Notebook for Fantastical Observations, designed for readers themselves to fill out, and this, Care and Feeding of Sprites. If you can only choose one of them, then the pick of the litter is undoubtedly the Field Guide, a stunning collection of illustrations and information that (in my opinion) is even better than the five books on which it is based.

But as a second choice Care and Feeding of Sprites is a wonderful addition to any growing Spiderwick library — though perhaps a bit pricey at this stage for such a relatively slim volume. Set out as a proper “how to” guide to raise and care for the diminutive little creatures known as sprites, (and endorsed by the International Sprite League, of course, visitable online) Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black — through the instruction of the Grace children, naturally — have put together another beautifully created and bound book.

Divided into fifteen segments, such as “Anatomy of a Sprite”, “The Many Moods of Your Sprite” and “What’s Not a Sprite”, Black provides the informative, detailed and often hilarious commentary on how one should look after your own sprite. But as always, the true appeal of any Spiderwick book lies with DiTerlizzi’s stunning illustrations. Each scientific portrait of the sprites comes complete with a key on its behaviour, Latin name, details on the wings and legs, and is rendered in beautiful colour. Each one on its glossy page could be framed and hung on the wall — they’re simply that beautiful.

But the real reason I thank these collaborators is due to their success in bringing the old lore of the faerie-folk back into the public eye, following in the worthy footsteps of Alan Lee, Jim Henson, Brian Froud and Terri Windling, among others. Far from the sweetie-cuteness of the portrayal of “fairies” that began in the Victorian era and got worse as the century wore on, Black and DiTerlizzi bring back the dark side of the faerie world — and don’t shy from sharing it with children. More please!


  • Rebecca Fisher

    REBECCA FISHER, with us since January 2008, earned a Masters degree in literature at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her thesis included a comparison of how C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman each use the idea of mankind’s Fall from Grace to structure the worldviews presented in their fantasy series. Rebecca is a firm believer that fantasy books written for children can be just as meaningful, well-written and enjoyable as those for adults, and in some cases, even more so. Rebecca lives in New Zealand. She is the winner of the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SFF Fan Writer.

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