Beyond Spiderwick has Giant Problem and Wyrm King…it’s a good thing!

A Giant Problem (Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 2) by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black; published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2008; 154 pages.

The Wyrm King (Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 3) by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black; published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2009; 202 pages.

Nick and his step-sister, Laurie, have opened up quite a can of wyrms–er, worms–by getting the Sight.  In the second and third installments of the Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles trilogy, they have to rely on Nick’s brother Jules and his girlfriend Cindy to lure the fire-breathing giants into the ocean.  The merfolk aren’t happy with the accommodations and the children make promises they have trouble keeping.  Noseeum Jack gets into trouble, only to be saved by his son, Jack Jr.  Taloa, the nixie, and her sisters reappear and require more promises from Nick.  Will he be able to keep all of these promises?  And can the faeries be trusted?  By book three, Nick realizes that his efforts to rid the terra firma of giants was a horrifically misinformed strategy.  Now the team of kids have to call on the Grace children for help.  Even Jack Jr. returns to help them lure the giants back onto the land to eat the writhing eel-like creatures before they grow into a hydra, a Wyrm King.  By keeping promises, teamwork, and quick thinking, the earth is saved from destruction by fire-breathing giants and the Wyrm King.

Is this the end of the Spiderwick stories?  Hints of further tales are shared at the end of the book, hints including stories to be written by children.  I think more stories are coming, but by the end of the third book, I’d tired of the human vs. faeries war and was glad the kids won and that the story was done.  Am I looking forward to future installments?  Not really, unless they are better than this series.  The publisher claims that these books are for children ages 7 and up, but I found these three books full of concepts that no second grader is (or should be) familiar with.  Passive-aggressive arguments by the parents?  Hmm, probably needs to be explained.

However, for the older readers, like upper elementary through middle school, the themes of teamwork, self-esteem, circle of life, etc., will be easily identified.  For this audience, the series has an undercurrent of sub-themes that were not incorporated in the first series.  That sub-storyline makes this series more interesting.

After finishing all three books, I think the story has evolved for an older audience, which may disappoint the younger readers.

4P     3Q     Grade Level: 5-7 (and maybe older fans that read the original series)

Cover Art:  Like the first book in this series, the images on the covers directly correlate to the titles and tell a great deal about the story contained within.  The use of messages on postcards on the back covers is also unique and should generate a great deal of interest in browsers.

Suggested Reading List: The Way It Could Be (Science Fiction or Fantasy)

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