Gorgeous illustrations help carry the shortcomings in the storytelling. There are other wittier, more engaging series out there about 3 children left to problem-solve on their own in a spooky old house, but Spiderwick is perfect for the pre-Lemony Snickett crowd.
This particular installment is touted as a "field guide" but it's really not much more than an introduction to the Grace children, the Spiderwick world, and the mysteries they'll be unraveling next. It felt like the authors broke a longer tale up into 5 smaller books & that left me feeling a bit cheated - however my 8 yro was enchanted (we read separately).
I have had Holly Black's other books (White Cat, etc) on my TBR list for well over a year now, and had no idea she was part of the writing duo behind Spiderwick (I'm dying to know if it's Holly or Tony that does the illustrations bc they are fantastic.) If anything, this book has made me even more curious about diving into White Cat & I'm sure I'll read the next 4 Spiderwick books when my son hands them off.