Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

Wildwood is the first volume in a children's fantasy adventure series by Decembrist lead singer Colin Meloy. Twelve-year-old Prue McKeel's baby brother is kidnapped by crows and she goes into the Impassable Wilderness next to her home in Portland, Oregon to rescue him. Inside, she finds a magical place at the brink of war.

At my YA book group last night, we talked about the way Wildwood pays homage to earlier novels, ballads and folklore such as Narnia, the Snow Queen, George MacDonald's work, The Dark Is Rising, Robin Hood and Yggdrasil. I liked that Wildwood features a plant more dangerous than Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors.

Wildwood is beautifully illustrated by Meloy's wife, Carson Ellis. There are about a dozen plates of artwork inside, some in full colour. See her art in this lovely book trailer (it's less than a minute long), and at the Wildwood Chronicles website, where you can find out more about the next books in the series.

I've handled the book, admiring the art, maps and deckle-edge pages, but chose to listen to the HarperCollins eAudiobook available through OverDrive at the library. Amanda Plummer narrates at a measured pace, modulated in the calm tones of a bedtime story, without being soporific. She reads so slowly that I was able to comfortably listen at double speed; if you don't, the recording is about 16 hours long.

Grades 5 - 7 are the prime audience, but older readers will enjoy this too. It's a fat book with heaps of action.

Readalikes: The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis); Breadcrumbs (Anne Ursu).

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