Meloy, Colin. 2011. WILDWOOD. Ill by Carson Ellis. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780062024688 [Suggested Grade Levels 4–8]
Prue’s life use to be ordinary. It was a normal day, normal parents, and normal weather. It wasn’t until a murder of crows flew off with her baby brother, that Prue’s life took a turn towards the extraordinary. Knowing that she must get her brother back, Prue enlists the help of her friend, Curtis, to go into the Impassable Wilderness where the crows had taken her brother, a place that no one had ever returned from. Thus begins a journey into a secret, fantastical land where animals talk, live in social groups, magic is common place, and where Prue and Curtis get caught up in the war and struggle for the freedom of Wildwood-- the Impassable Wilderness-– from tyranny.
Meloy has crafted an otherworldly reality that is enticing for those who relish an escape from the modern world. It is a complex story with a strong thread of right versus wrong placed in a setting that reminds a reader of a simplified Tolkien’s middle earth. Ellis’ illustrations extend the story for the reader, giving visual anchors to events and characters. It is a superbly written novel, the first of a promised series that will capture those readers who enjoy the magical worlds of the imagination.
The complexity of characters and setting would support the creation of a visual reader’s journal of maps, groupings of characters, and leadership hierarchies. Readers may also want to do a response journal about Prue and follow her coming of age journey.
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