Holly Black was born in New Jersey in 1971. She graduated with a
B.A. in English from The College of New Jersey in 1994. Holly's
first book, Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale (Simon & Schuster) was
published in 2002 and was included in the American Library
Association's Best Books for Young Adults. She has since written
two other books in the same universe, Valiant (2005), and the
sequel to Tithe, Ironside (2007). Valiant was a finalist for the
Mythopoeic Award for Young Readers and the recipient of the Andre
Norton Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. Holly
collaborated with Caldecott award winning artist, Tony DiTerlizzi,
to create the bestselling Spiderwick Chronicles. The books have
been translated into over 30 languages and adapted into a film by
Paramount Pictures in conjunction with Nickelodeon Films. Holly's
first collection of short fiction, Poison Eaters and Other Stories,
came out in 2010 from Small Beer Press. Holly lives in
Massachusetts with her husband Theo.
A Reading Guide for TITHE,
VALIANT, and IRONSIDE
By Holly Black
ABOUT THE BOOKS
Holly Black''s first Young Adult novel, the urban fantasy/faerie
tale Tithe, focuses on a sixteen-year-old girl named Kaye
who is actually a pixie, only at first she doesn''t know it. Kaye
starts to piece together the strange story of her real identity
when she and her mother return to the New Jersey town where she
grew up, and Kaye comes in contact with the faeries she used to
play with as a child and a wounded knight, Roiben, who will change
her life forever. Black''s second book, Valiant, picks up
where Tithe leaves off, but follows a different girl -- a
human named Val -- who catches her boyfriend and her mother in a
compromising position and runs away from home. In New York City,
Val hooks up with a strange group of homeless teens and joins them
in living in an abandoned subway station. It''s not long before Val
learns that these teens are not like anyone she''s ever met -- they
work as couriers for a troll and come in contact with faeries on a
regular basis. Ironside, Black''s third book, returns
readers to Kaye''s story, beginning two months after the ending of
Tithe. Roiben is about to take the throne of the Unseelie
Court and there will undoubtedly be a war, but then Kaye makes a
foolish declaration and is sent on an impossible quest. Luis and
Dave from Valiant become an integral part of the story as
Kaye is forced to visit Silarial, the Seelie queen, to try to save
Roiben and herself.
How does Tithe compare with other fairy tale books
you''ve read in the past? Did you like the modern setting?
If you were Kaye, what gift would you have given to the kelpie
if the broken carousel horse had not been available?
What other orders would you have asked Rath Roiben Rye to carry
out if you suddenly knew his full name? (Don''t forget his skill of
turning leaves into money!)
For New Jersey and New York readers: Name all of the real
locations that were mentioned in the three books -- for example:
Allaire State Park, Café des Artistes, etc.
If you were able to choose, would you want to be a part of the
Seelie court, the Unseelie court, the solitary fey, or the human
At the end of Tithe, what do you imagine happened to
Roiben and Kaye? Before you read the sequel, how did you feel about
the ending of Tithe? Would you have ended the book
Were you excited to see cameos by some of the characters from
Tithe in Valiant?
Who is your favorite character from Valiant? Why? What
qualities does this character possess that make him/her most
interesting to you?
If Valiant was made into a movie, what current film or
TV stars would you cast as Val, Lolli, Dave, Luis, Ravus and the
Put yourself in Lolli''s shoes -- tell the story of
Valiant from her point of view. What do you think happened
to Lolli at the end of the book?
What did you think of the use of the faerie drug "Never" in the
story? Did you think that the book showed enough of the downside of
using drugs? If Dave had never taken the drug, how do you think his
story would change? What about Lolli? Val?
We know that Kaye got her GED during the two months between the
end of Tithe and the beginning of Ironside. What
else do you think happened during this interim? How did Kaye cope
with the loss of Janet, her mom moving away, her relationship with
Ironside obviously takes place in December -- what are
the clues that tell you what time of year it is?
If you were cursed like Corny, would you immediately get to the
ocean to cure yourself or would you attempt to touch someone or
something? Whom or what?
Do you think it was a mistake for Kaye to have the young human
brought back to Ellen? Do you think the girl will grow up to be a
If you were in Kaye''s position with no need for college and the
ability to create a new life for yourself, what would you do? What
do you think of Kaye''s coffee shop plans and her idea of dividing
her time between it and Roiben?
Which adventurous duo do you think had a more challenging or
exciting task: Val and Luis going after Mabry for Ravus''s heart or
Kaye and Corny traveling to the Seelie Court to strike a deal with
Should there be additional books in this series? How would the
story continue? Which character besides Kaye or Val would you like
to see explored in another book?
Were any of the quotes at the beginning of each chapter familiar
to you? Choose a few of your favorites and discuss how they relate
to what happened in the story at that point.
RESEARCH AND ACTIVITIES
Create a Tithe board game that follows Kaye''s travels
between the Seelie and Unseelie courts and the human world. Playing
pieces can represent something about each character -- Kaye''s
purple cat suit, Roiben''s long white hair, Corny''s beat-up car,
etc. Use obstacles like iron, thorns, ogres, and the Unseelie
queen. Make minor characters part of the game (Janet, Kenny, Ellen)
by detouring major players to save them from the kelpie. Be
Make a clay sculpture, a painting, a drawing, or other piece of
art of your favorite character from any of the books. What do you
think they would actually look like?
Make an Unseelie feast! Re-create dishes that Kaye sees when she
sneaks into the Unseelie court, then invent your own interesting
Write a spell for creating a glamour, then read it aloud to the
group. Describe the new look you have created.
Choose your favorite scene and act it out in front of the group.
If several people wish to be involved, choose a scene that features
many characters. Make your performance as simple or as elaborate as
you choose by adding costumes and props or just reading dialogue
aloud from the book.
Assuming that Kaye''s grandmother lives in Long Branch, New
Jersey, get an atlas and map out the route that Kaye and Corny (and
later, Luis) took during the course of their travels in
Design your own sword -- either patterned after the glass one
Ravus used to teach Val how to fight or one of your own creation.
Draw a detailed picture of your design.
In this compulsively seductive tale as enchanting as it is chilling, a "New York Times" bestselling author takes readers back to the bewitching world of Faerie in a stunning sequel to her acclaimed first book "Tithe."