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4.6 out of 5 stars24
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on 12 July 2005
The Ironwood Tree, fourth of the Spiderwick Chronicles, a cute little series of evergreen yarns by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi depicts intrepid teen heroes Jarred, Simon and foxy Mallory Grace encountering a menacing and deadly Shape-shifter who frames Jarred for a crime he didn't commit. It's all downhill from here as Mallory is kidnapped by a fiendish band of dwarves who keep up with the tradition of being great miners and craftsmen and live in a subterannean utopia of gold, silver, copper and iron in the Old Quarry.
Now Simon and Jarred must find a way to rescue their sister before the dwarves put into action their plan for world-domination involving the Ironwood Tree.
But who is Mulgarath the Ogre?
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VINE VOICEon 9 August 2004
'The Ironwood Tree,' is the fourth book in the Spiderwick Chronicles - continuing from where Book 3 -' Lucinda's Secret' left off - and is another fabulous little 7 chaptered book brimful of sumptuous illustrations.
The Grace children face their greatest challenge yet. During a fencing match, while their 13 year-old sister is fighting a duel, 9 year-old twins, Jared and Simon spot someone rummaging through her sports bag. Jared goes to investigate - but finds something he never expected - a shape-shifter impersonating him, turning the Grace twins into triplets! As a result, he is expelled from school - but that's the least of his worries - while he and Simon are distracted, Mallory is kidnapped. A trail of mysterious clues lead them to an old Quarry inhabited by dwarves. Here they find the incredible Ironwood Tree - and to their horror discover their sister asleep, locked inside a glass coffin. Somehow they have to rescue her, escape the dwarves, their mechanical dogs and a giant ogre.
This book is the fourth in a series of five. Although the stories revolve around the magical inhabitants of the faerie world - don't assume that these books are just for girls. Jared, the main character, is very much a boy - into fighting, getting expelled from school and generally being difficult! Even the faeries are not the twee Enid Blyton variety - neither are they the like the feisty gun-toting elves of the Artemis Fowl books. No, they seem much more realistic: Strange, magical, dangerous and willing to do anything to get Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide. What is it about this innocuous looking old book that drives the inhabitants of the faerie world to such great lengths. Book five - 'The Wrath of Mulgarath' has the amazing answer ...
I have always awarded 5 stars to the previous Spiderwick books. However, a slightly disappointing ending meant that this one got 4 stars. I felt the denouement was below par - and rather rushed, as if the author felt obliged to conclude the book within the customary 7 chapters, when it might have worked better with an extra chapter or two. The conclusion seemed overly convenient, especially the unconvincing way the robotic dogs were dealt with and the Grace kids escaped the quarry. That being said - it's still a most enjoyable book. If you've read the others - then this cannot be missed.
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VINE VOICEon 1 November 2004
During a break in faerie activity, the children try to get on with their lives. Mallory throws herself into her fencing, Simon looks after his animals and Jared continues to get into trouble.
But this peace and relative quiet doesn't last long when a shape changer appears at a fencing match, and contrives to get Jared into even more serious trouble than normal.
The plot thickens when Mallory disappears, and they have to pursue her into the depths of dwarf territory, solving a tricky riddle as they go along. The dwarves want the Field Guide really badly, and as the twins don't have it anymore, they have to ad-lib to the best of their ability.
After a tour of the dwarf realm of undying beauty, they meet with the dwarf Lord Korting, and see their sister under glass doing a Sleeping Beauty imitation. By keeping their wits about them they escape captivity and tough puppies, and witness a brutal betrayal by their enemy Mulgarath.
This is the darkest of the series so far, but one of the most detailed. Enjoy, you've only one more to go.
Amanda Richards
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on 25 May 2005
The Ironwood Tree is very exciting and it involves Mallory being kidnapped by dwarfs. Jared and Simon have to rescue her and they come face to face with Mulgareth, an evil ogre who can take the form of any other creature or person.
This is yet again, a selling sucess for Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black!
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In the previous book, the Grace kids encountered a trio of elves deep in the forest. Now they're dealing with dwarves in "The Ironwood Tree," the fourth and next-to-last of the Spiderwick Chronicles -- and Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi do a solid job adding menace to a fantasy species that usually isn't too spooky. Plus, a great lead-in to the grand finale.

The Grace family arrives at the high school to watch Mallory's fencing match, but during one match Jared notices a strange girl rifling through his sister's bag. And even worse, a strange doppelganger of Jared appears and menaces him, hoping to find the Guide. Finally, worst of all -- Mallory vanishes, leaving behind only her fencing medal and a stone with the word TRADE carved into it.

While their mother freaks out about what a "problem child" Jared is, the twins go rushing off to an abandoned quarry nearby, and soon find their way into an underground civilization populated by dwarves. These master craftsmen have taken Mallory, and they also have some rather unpleasant (and unrealistic!) plans for the upper world.

"The Ironwood Tree" contains some of the most atmospheric, fantastical scenes in the entire Spiderwick Chronicles series, as Holly Black introduces us to an eerie underground city with silver-leaved ironwood trees, statues and stalactites, silver and golden animals and platinum flowers. In fact, I was left wishing that we had spent a little more time down there.

Holly Black's prose is really beautiful here, especially when she describes the underground world of the dwarves ("Glowing fungi covered the walls in patches, illuminating the faces of three small men with skin as gray as stone"), and she gives the dwarves a menacing edge that definitely sets them apart from Disney's jolly harmless little men. And Tony DiTerlizzi's delicate pen-and-ink drawings are simply lovely, especially his depictions of Mallory in the glass case.

However, there appear to be some obstacles for the twins on the home front, since a faerie successfully makes Jared look like a knife-wielding psycho, and their mom is bleating about how she can't handle him. The only downside is that Mallory plays the typical damsel-in-distress role; it would have been nice to see her kicking some dwarven butt.

"The Ironwood Tree" successfully pulls our preteen heroes into a strange underground world, and adds a coldly exquisite edge to this series. And the door is open for the grand finale.
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on 21 April 2004
The 4th book so far (of the Spiderwick Chronicles) kept up its standardgained from the other 3 released books. Its everything you could want froma childrens fantasy book,
1) its realistic enough to make you want tobelieve fairies and magic-folk are possible!
2)Its exciting, gripping, interesting, funny
3) You can easily put yourself in the shoes of the children as they areplaced in common situations (apart from the fairies bit :-) ! )such ashaving to move house and schools, etc.
Anyway- an allround fab book!
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on 6 July 2015
As with the previous instalments, this book is simply beautiful. It is presented so nicely and contains gorgeous illustrations and so looks great as part of any fantasy collection, for adults or children.

Compared to the earlier novels in the series, I was a little disappointed with this one. It is very similar to The Seeing Stone in that it focuses on the kidnap and rescue of one of the kids, only this time around the series does not really offer anything new to the reader. Other than a quick glimpse of Mulgarath, the story just treads familiar ground. There is nothing more about Arthur Spiderwick's whereabouts or where Thimbletack hid the book and there is little explanation for the dwarves' behaviour (why, exactly, did they feel a need to collect the boys and what was the shapeshifter?)

I was also somewhat disappointed by the characterisation this time around. While there was a little development for Jared, Simon and Mallory got next to nothing. This was a huge shame for me as the three protagonists were portrayed very realistically in the earlier books but this time it's only really Jared's time to shine.

All in all, this was still an enjoyable and lighthearted story, but was still by far the weakest part of the series. Hopefully, the series will show improvement in its final instalment.
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The further I get into this series, the more I like it. These are great books, wonderfully written and illustrated. Black and DiTerlizzi have done an amazing job. These books in some ways are like C.S. Lewis's Narnia books, and in other ways like J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, but they are not overtly religious the way Lewis's are and they are not as dark as Tolkien's. They will introduce children to the concept of wonder, and believing in things unseen, or at least unseen by most. As the series progresses, the relationship between the three Grace children solidifies. They grow closer together as they struggle against those forces that wish to take Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide, and they grow in character through the trials they encounter.

What is great is that as each book progresses, the story moves faster and faster. In this book they encounter goblins again, and dwarves and an ogre. They soon realize that the world of fairy is far more dangerous than they had experienced so far. In this book we have riddles, a kidnapping, capture and an escape. We encounter mechanical animals and a few hidden surprises even the children could not expect. It is a great novel and leaves you wanting the 5th and final book of the first series.
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on 4 March 2005
this book has to be the best book out of the spiderwick chronicles its filled with suspense and adventure this book is a must read and a treat to anyone who reads it
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It's been two weeks since anything weird has happened to the Grace family. But all that changes on the day of the Mallory's fencing tournament. While watching from the bleachers, Jared spies someone going through Mallory's bag. Then Mallory disappears. Can Jared and Simon find her?

This is the first book in the series I didn't recognize from the movie. But I can understand why the writers left it out. In many ways, it feels like a retread of book two with the missing sibling angle. About the only thing that happens to advance the overall story happens in the last few pages.

Now this isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the book. The plot moved forward very quickly. Simon finally got a chance to shine here. The final scene was powerful. In fact, parents may want to preview it so they can talk to their kids about it.

Even if this book isn't as strong as some of the others, it is still a good read that kids and fantasy lovers will enjoy.
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