"WILDWOOD," by Colin Meloy, illustrated by Carson Ellis, HarperCollins, $17.99, 560 pages (f) (9-12)
"Wildwood" follows the adventures of a 12-year-old girl named Prue. While playing at a new park in Portland, Ore., with her brother, a murder of crows kidnap him and bring him to the "Impassible Wilderness."
Prue has to travel into this "Impassible Wilderness," as the people of Portland call it. Outside of her area, it is called "Wildwood," as is the book's title.
The people in Wildwood have put an enchantment at the edge of the woods so the residents of Portland would not make it to their cities and disturb their magical world. If people from the city do happen to get into the woods, they just wander around in circles until they go crazy.
Prue needs to save her brother. But no one has ever come back from Wildwood the same. When Prue decides to travel into it, she takes her friend from school, Curtis.
When she goes into this wilderness, she realizes it is a whole giant community of its own. There are two cities, Southwood and Northwood. She needs to recruit their help or her brother might never escape. Things get worse when her friend Curtis is caught and taken captive by talking coyote soldiers.
Author Colin Meloy has always wanted to write a novel but has pursued a music career instead with the band Decemberists. This is his first novel and it's the first in a series of fantasy books set in an alternate version of modern-day Portland.
"Wildwood" was obviously written with "The Chronicles of Narnia" in mind. Both have a mysterious world set up right outside their doorstep. Both involve children entering a dangerous setting and working together to save their brother.
Illustrator Carson Ellis is best known for previously working with Lemony Snicket and Trenton Lee Stewart. For "Wildwood," she has drawn 85 illustrations, six of which are full-page color pictures.
"Wildwood" is a book of fun and wonder set in a world that Prue never knew existed. The illustrations are very fun and charming to the eye. It offers three points of view, from Prue, Curtis and the evil governess of the Coyotes.
Prue has a fiery determination to accomplish her task — and through her adventures she learns she has powers inside herself she never dreamed of. This book is a great read for kids ages 9-12.
Kate De Groote is 10 years old and runs the blog SuperKidReviews.wordpress.com with her 8-year-old sister, Ellie.
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