Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wildwood Is Coming to the AJC DBF!

I've blogged for the past several days about Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis coming to the AJC Decatur Book Festival.  Now it's time to talk about their book.

Wildwood is primarily set in the ominously titled Impassible Wilderness, a wooded area just across the river from Prue McKeel's neighborhood in Portland.  When her infant brother, Mac, is taken by crows to the IW, twelve-year-old Prue is determined to get him back -- even thought no one who has entered the IW has returned to talk about it.  Joined by casual acquaintance and nerdy classmate Curtis Mehlberg, Prue finds the IW to be populated by humans (including bandits and mystics) and talking animals (such as coyote soldiers, an avian army, and a friendly rat), politically subdivided, and in danger of being destroyed by one very, very nasty woman.  Prue and Curtis are soon separated and go on parallel adventures inside the IW, and both have to figure out who is friend, who is foe, and with whom they can forge alliances in their efforts to find Mac and bring him safely home.

The most obvious comparison is to C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, though Wildwood feels contemporary and is certainly a lot more fun.

Written as the first book of a trilogy, Wildwood is targeted toward children ages 9 and up.  Those on the younger end should be forewarned that Wildwood is 560 pages in length, uses a substantial vocabulary, and generally gets off to a slow start.

For those who forge ahead, the trip is extremely worthwhile.  The pace quickens, the fantasy/adventure kicks into gear, the characters develop, and the story's finale is climactic and clever.  Prue and Curtis develop into fascinating protagonists with secrets not fully revealed; the book works equally well for girls and boys.

Wildwood will also have considerable crossover appeal; adults will enjoy the political satire and an eco-friendly, Pacific Northwest vibe.

Carson Ellis' ink and watercolor illustrations are elegant and fit well into the classic tenor of the book.  Besides contributing artwork to album covers and posters for The Decemberists among other things, Carson has illustrated a number of chapter books.

Though this is his first novel, Colin Meloy is no stranger to writing.  He has a degree in creative writing from the University of Montana and his songwriting for The Decemberists is oftentimes described as "literary."  To the extent that such things are genetic, Colin's sister, Maile Meloy, is an award-winning author whose first children's novel, The Apothecary, comes out this November.

Wildwood goes on sale August 30th.

Carson Ellis and Colin Meloy appear together as the keynote speakers at the 2011 AJC Decatur Book Festival on Friday, September 2nd.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis Are Coming to the AJC DBF!

Here is a video of Colin and Carson discussing their book, Wildwood.  It's pretty cool!

If you double click on this video it will appear on full screen mode.
Double click again to reduce it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Carson Ellis Is Coming to the AJC DBF!

Carson Ellis, illustrator of Wildwood, will be joining author Colin Meloy as keynote speaker at the 2011 AJC Decatur Book Festival.  (She even blogged about coming here already!)

Carson has illustrated a number of books, including those by Trenton Lee Stewart and Lemony Snicket, as well as numerous album covers for The Decemberists.

Wildwood contains an ambitious number of black and white illustrations (the artwork was only about half completed when the advance copies were printed) and a handful in color.  Her ink and watercolor style is detailed and distinctive, evocative of woodcut printing.  This illustration is of Septimus the rat, and was her final completed drawing for the novel.

If there weren't enough reasons to appreciate Portland, Oregon's Carson Ellis, here's one more: go to her website and click on one of the covers from her "books" section.  It provides a link to purchase the book from her great hometown independent bookstore, Powell's Books!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Colin Meloy Is Coming to the AJC DBF!

Colin Meloy, frontman for The Decemberists, is one of the keynote speakers for the 2011 AJC Decatur Book Festival.

His first novel, Wildwood, is being published by Balzer + Bray (an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) on August 30th.
After Colin Meloy was confirmed for the DBF, I went down the street to Decatur CD.  Not terribly familiar with The Decemberists, I asked Warren for some recommendations.  He very enthusiastically recommended their newest recording, The King is Dead (which debuted at #1 on the charts earlier this year), and two other CDs (Her Majesty and Picaresque).  Warren spoke of fond memories seeing the band in concert at Chastain several years ago, appearing with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

In describing Colin Meloy's music, Warren used the word "literary" about seven times.

It is of little surprise to fans that Colin became a novelist, though I'm not sure anyone would have expected his debut work to be a children's book.

(Wildwood is for adults as well.  A book review will follow this week.)

We're very excited to be welcoming Colin Meloy to the AJC Decatur Book Festival!!!

- Dave

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis - Keynote Speakers for the 2011 AJC Decatur Book Festival

Colin Meloy, a songwriter and musician best known for his role as the fronting The Decemberists, and Carson Ellis, illustrator of several children's books and Decemberists album covers, will be the keynote speakers at the 2011 Decatur Book Festival.

Each of the keynotes during the history of this festival -- Arianna Huffington (blogger extraordinaire, author, political activist), Kinki Friedman (humorist, novelist, politician), Billy Collins (former Poet Laureate of the United States), Sir Harold Evans (author, journalist, The Sunday Times editor), Jonathan Franzen (novelist, essayist) -- have brought something different to Decatur.

That tradition will continue this year with the husband and wife team of Meloy (songwriter and lead singer for The Decemberists) and Ellis (a considerable artist), author and illustrator of Wildwood, an ambitious fantasy/adventure children's book in the tradition of Chronicles of Narnia middle-grade novel.  This will be the first book in a trilogy.

Wildwood is the tale of twelve-year-old Prue and her classmate, Curtis, who venture into the Impassible Wilderness to rescue Prue's infant brother, who was kidnapped by a murder of crows.  These woods, just outside Portland, have never been penetrated by people before.  It is populated by humans and talking animals, politically subdivided, and in danger of being destroyed by the very nasty Dowager Governess.  Prue and Curtis must risk their own lives in their efforts to save the child.

- Dave