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Cinematters


Curious Kid Uncovers Critters Gone Wild



July 01, 2008
The new boy on the block has already been labeled "weird" by the neighborhood kids. He ignores your children's invitation to come and play and spends much of his days indoors. It's not until you drop by to meet the family that you learn their son is hearing-impaired. With a little extra effort, the kids soon learn to communicate well enough to become fast friends.

Things are not always as they seem at first glance, as the young stars of "The Spiderwick Chronicles" discover. Now available on home video from Paramount Home Entertainment, "The Spiderwick Chronicles" is based on the best-selling book series by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. Watch the film version with your family and then discuss its thought-provoking themes with our Talk Together points. Afterward, whip up some Critter Creations for a snack that's downright disgusting … or is it?

The Spiderwick Chronicles focuses on the Grace family—twins Jared and Simon, big sister Mallory and their recently separated mom—and the scary old Spiderwick Estate they have recently moved into. Their parents' impending divorce is clearly devastating for the children, especially Jared, who covers his hurt with a nasty attitude and a growing reputation for lying. Soon, Jared discovers his great-great-uncle Arthur Spiderwick's field guide to the fairies and goblins living in the nearby forest (not to mention the grumpy brownie, Thimbletack, who lives in the attic). But his siblings are skeptical.

Thimbletack tells Jared that the book contains crucial information about the fairies—information that the menacing ogre Mulgarath wants to use to control the unseen world.

Using a special stone, Jared can see the battalion of evil creatures waiting to pounce on him and his family as soon as they leave the protective circle around their house. Still unconvinced, Simon steps outside the boundary line and is captured by the goblins. Jared risks his own life to rescue his brother and return to the house. Finally, Simon and Mallory believe Jared and join in the fight to save their family from evil.

Eventually, Mulgarath and his minions are able to break the spell that protects the Graces' house. A fierce battle ensues, with Mulgarath cornering Jared and the field guide on the rooftop. With the help of a friendly creature named Hogsqueal, Jared defeats Mulgarath and saves the field guide. In the end, he gains the respect and gratitude of his family.

TALK TOGETHER

Moving to the Spiderwick Estate was a big change for the Grace family. How did each of the children deal with their fears? How do you act when you are angry or scared?

The field guide had a note attached that warned against opening it. Why did Jared open it anyway? What would you have done when you read the warning? Why did Jared's siblings think he was lying when he told them about Thimbletack and the fairy world?

The world looked very different through the special stone. What do you think you could see in your yard if you had a special stone?

PLAY TOGETHER: CRITTER CREATIONS

Let your imagination run wild as you create these edible "beasts."

You will need:

• 4-ounce package of Jell-O.

• Fruits and/or vegetables (no kiwi or pineapple – they will cause the Jell-O to stay soft).

• Thin pretzel sticks.

• 4 half-cup (4 ounce) bowls or cups.

Prepare the Jell-O according to the package directions. Pour into the cups or bowls and refrigerate for about one hour. While the Jell-O is firming up, cut the fruit into small pieces (small enough to fit inside the cup of gelatin). Using pretzel sticks, attach smaller pieces of fruit as eyes, arms, legs, noses and other features. Make the creatures as scary or as funny as you want. When the Jell-O is slightly firm, place the fruit creature into the cup and press gently into the Jell-O. Allow the Jell-O to completely congeal (approximately three more hours). Then dig in, and remind your kids that it pays to take a closer look before judging the world around them.

For more family film fun, visit www.Cinematters.com.

Copyright © 2008, Cinematters.

For more family film fun, visit www.cinematters.com.
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