Get Lit: The Spiderwick Chronicles, by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
These books have a similar style to the Lemony Snicket novels, including a dark art motif, a good but understandable vocabulary, and a back story that explains how ‘real’ the story is. It even has the three children who have lost a family member—though in this case it was the result of a divorce. This story is not, however, as dark in storyline as the Series of Unfortunate Events books, nor is it at quite the same reading level. If you don’t like your children exposed to violence, most of the fights are short and don’t go into a great deal of detail, and the deaths in the story are disguised or toned down, so they aren’t overly gory.
While it does feature the rare use of some more adult words, (crappy, hell) its beautiful illustrations and fast pace should render it interesting to even the least reading-inclined child. So, if your child enjoys reading about fantasy and adventure with amazing full-page illustrations, The Spiderwick Chronicles are the perfect choice. – Abby Downing-Beaver
The Spiderwick Chronicles, by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 5 book set, $9.95 each book