I'm a costume designer, makeup artist, teacher, mom, knitter, baker, want-to-learn-how-to-do-it-all

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I'm a costume designer, makeup artist, teacher, mom, sewer, knitter, baker, want-to-learn-how-to-do-it-all, blogging, Costumed Beagle enthusiast. I am not always pleasant, although through intensive cupcake therapy I have learned not to throw knives at people anymore.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Book Review: Wildwood and Under Wildwood

We received a couple of fun books for Christmas:

Wildwood and Under Wildwood by Colin Meloy and Illustrated by Carson Ellis.  These are the first two books in The Wildwood Chronicles which is expected to be a trilogy.

The books center around a 11-12  girl named Prue who lives in Portland near an area called The Impassable Wilderness which is wild and undeveloped and which no one goes in or or out of.

Prue finds herself on an adventure into this Wilderness both in Books one and two and finds herself in a magical, if not violent world that includes a coyote army, mystical trees, talking animals and an ongoing feud between the factions within.

It is a fun adventure type story with a strong, brave female character and although does have fantasy type elements doesn't seem particularly embedded in the fantasy. Narnia-esque, but distinctly American and modern.

The funniest parts of the book may not have been intended to by funny (or maybe...you never know about those Portlandiers) because it is so very Portland.  The author/illustrator are themselves from Portland, and the author is also the lead singer/songwriter for the band The Decemberists and is married to the illustrator who did the illustrations for The Mysterious Benedict Society (one of our favorites).  In fact, the illustrations are my favorite bit, BUT being all youngish and hip and living in Portland comes with a price that reveals itself in writing.

There are constant references to things like Prue putting soy milk on her all natural organic free-trade granola and she wears a pea coat and carries a satchel to school and the family gets their vegis from the farmers market...that sort of thing.  It made me giggle.

If the author has a fault, it isn't the creativity used to create the story and the characters but a tendency to over describe everything.  I think it could do with a bit of simplification.  The books are pretty long for the intended audience (nearly 560 for book #2) and I think probably 1/4 of that doesn't really contribute much to the story.  It proscribes to the theory that if two adjectives help set the mood-four can do it much much much more better.

The first book stands on its own, but book two distinctly ends mid-story.  I tried to find out when book three would be published, but since book two just came out in 2012 it may be a year or so.
Look at these illustrations!  

I did find out though that it has been optioned for a short stop-action film by the makers of Coraline, which could be really fun...

I recommend.  Good for ages 9-13ish.  Not a difficult read, but doesn't dumb down language either.
Some violence--there is a war and characters are attacked and die.  The main character is hunted in the second book.

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