Tag Archive | Carson Ellis

Wild for Wildwood

(I couldn’t come up with a more ridiculous title, sorry. Next time, blog.)

So here’s some sad news blog: I have another internship (not sad news for me, just for you, blog) and I have no internet at home (T-Mobile figured out I was secretly tethering internet and wants to charge me boooo) so I don’t have a lot of time / opportunity to blog. Right now I’m sitting at Starbucks ostensibly researching travel so I can be a brilliant travel blogger, but actually as you might have noticed I’m blogging here. (I will still research travel. Don’t worry, other internship. It’s early afternoon, still.)

Anyway, I’m going to try to blog regularly, but it’s probably not going to happen. In the mean time I will be reading a million books, and some of them will probably be for grown ups. (I have 12 books to blog about including Wildwood and a whole FOUR of them are for grown ups. Can you believe that, blog?)

So here it is. I read Wildwood. And got some swag from B&N, too.

Title: Wildwood

Author: Colin Meloy

Illustrator: Carson Ellis

Remember when I read the Wildwood excerpt before and loved it so much? Well, I went out to the Barnes & Noble at Union Square on the day Wildwood came out and bought it in hardcover. That’s love, you guys. I am really cheap and have no money. (Here’s a fun fact: the B&N didn’t have the book out yet and many of the employees were confused when we (Katie and I) asked for it, despite the part where they had promotional material (awesome buttons and artwork) for it. It took a while before I had a copy in my hands, but I did in fact get the book that day.)

Anyway I read it and I really liked the whole thing! The book has definite touches of Narnia, but with less Jesus-y themes (as in none) and hints of hipster instead. The vocabulary is, as usual with Meloy, way higher than your average vocabulary, especially for a middle grade book. This was, for the most part, really great, because more books should do that (esp. adult books), but (sorry Mr. Meloy) to be perfectly honest, it sometimes got a little bit tiring. The book is pretty long (560 pages, a veritable tome) and the writing style just gets wearying to the point where you can’t really sit and read huge long spans of it at once, even if you want to (and I did).

The plot itself is pretty great, although there are areas where it drags. I think what the book does best is creating a new world and the characters in it. So many great characters. Owl Rex! Septimus! Curtis! (I wish the books focused on Curtis instead of mostly on Prue, to be honest. I like Curtis better. Prue is kind of a B sometimes.)

But the best part about Wildwood is Carson Ellis’ illustrations. They kept me more into the book than even the words did, because they are just so great. I loved the full color illustration pages and I loved the chapter illustrations and I loved the black and white ones. They were just all great. I love Carson Ellis’ style. This book made me want to read other books she illustrated, just for her illustrations.

And, bonus, Katie and I went to see Carson and Colin at B&N’s Upstairs at the Square event series and they were really adorable and we got our books signed.

Despite the at times wearisome writing style (which actually I really like! it’s just difficult 560 pages straight), this book is really really excellent. I’m glad I have it in hardcover to read lots of times over. Beautiful illustrations, adorable characters, humorous and adventurous and worth your read. Go do it.

What I’m Reading: Wildwood

Although I’ve only mentioned The King is Dead on this blog, the Decemberists are my favorite band ever as of right now, and have been for a while. Brilliant sound, brilliant lyrics, I just love love love the Decemberists. And guess what, world? Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy has written a children’s book called Wildwood that is illustrated by his wife, Carson Ellis. The first four chapters are available for free here. You can bet your butts that I have read the first four chapters and they are so good.

The story follows Prue, a girl growing up in Portland, Oregon. She is babysitting her younger brother, Mac, when he is kidnapped by a murder of crows and taken into the Impassable Wilderness. She and her schoolmate, Curtis, must journey through this wilderness to find Mac.

Unfortunately for the ENTIRE WORLD who doesn’t have an ARC, there are only four chapters out so far. I loved them so much. What I think I loved most of all, though, is that Meloy doesn’t sacrifice language just because the book is for younger readers. Children are smart, and this book does not condescend to its readers. As a kid, I would’ve been totally into this. I’m still totally into this. But I would have really appreciated a book that uses a higher vocabulary.

I also love the little hints at the Portland culture of hipsterdom. (Examples: Prue, a vegetarian, rides a single speed bicycle. All of her classmates have graduated from doodling superheroes to band logos. Prue’s morning with Mac: “a pair of Levis, not quite the right color, needed returning; the recent arrivals bin at Vinyl Resting Place required perusing; a plate of veggie tostadas was messily shared at the taqueria […]” How great is that?) And of course I love the illustrations. Lovely, quirky, and entirely in line with the story.

AND it got a nice blurb from one of my favorite authors, Jonathan Safran Foer. There are so many things to love.

The only disappointing part? The rest of the book doesn’t come out until the end of August and the excerpt ends with a bit of a cliffhanger. HarperCollins / Colin Meloy, if you’re reading this, do you mind sending me an ARC? I don’t think I can wait that long.

Bonus video (Carson and Colin discuss the book):

Seriously. I cannot talk this up enough. I cannot wait until the rest of it comes out. Everyone else in the world read this right now and suffer with me.