Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis get wild with new children's book

Courtesy PhotoDynamic duo: Husband-and-wife Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis created an engrossing Tolkien-like world in their books.

The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy has been busy spinning yarns.

“Under Wildwood,” being released next week, is the second children’s tome by the musician and his wife, artist-illustrator Carson Ellis. The pair comes to town Monday to sign copies at Books Inc. Opera Plaza.

“Wildwood Chronicles” — a series for middle-schoolers — debuted last year with the New York Times-bestselling “Wildwood,” which has been optioned by Laika, the stop-motion studio that produced the film “Coraline.”

#link_box { width: 150px; height: auto; margin: 0; padding: 0; margin: 10px 20px 10px 0px; padding: 10px; background-color: #fbfade; /* ecru – light yellow */ border: 1px solid #343a25; /* green – for summer arts */ float: left; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-size: 11px; } #link_box img, #link_box a { border 0px; border-style: none; outline: none; } #link_box h1 { margin: 0; padding: 5px; border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; text-transform: none; color: #8A0808; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-weight: bold; font-size: 12px; text-align: center; } #link_box h2 { margin: 0; padding: 5px; border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; text-transform: none; color: #000; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-weight: bold; font-size: 10px; text-align: center; } #link_box ul { list-style: none; margin: 0; padding: 0; border: none; } #link_box li { margin: 0px padding: 0px; border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; border-bottom-width: 1px; } #link_box li a { display: block; padding: 5px 5px 5px 15px; /* Padding for bullet */ /* border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; border-bottom-width: 1px; */ color: #000; width: 100%; width: auto; /* height: auto; */ /* border: 1px solid blue; */ margin: 0px; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-size: 11px; line-height: 14px; text-decoration: none; } #link_box li a: before { /* background-position: top left; */ } #link_box li a:hover { background-color: #ddd; color: #000; }

“Being able to write a story at length has been really enjoyable,” Meloy says. “It felt like I could be unbridled in a way that I’m not sometimes in music. As I’m writing the third one, I can’t imagine that this will be the last. I would like to do more.”

Well-crafted, all-consuming and epic, “Wildwood” sucks the reader into its vortex as 12-year-old Prue McKeel is lured into a magical forest on the outskirts of Portland, her hometown. She’s in search of her baby brother, who has been kidnapped by a “murder” of crows.

Meloy’s vocabulary is just as quirky in the books as in his Decemberists lyrics.

“I didn’t want to write down to kids,” Meloy says. “Kids that age are able to take in and comprehend a lot. Maybe, if it is challenging for someone, they would find the joy of reading a long and more difficult book than they’re accustomed to. That’s part of the pleasure of reading I think.”

Ellis’ lavish illustrations provide equal pleasure. The forest is atwitter with magic vegetation, mystic sages and chatty, authoritative animals. Coyotes are uniformed, musket-toting bandits and moles wear bottle caps for armor and brandish sewing needle swords.

The wood, partitioned into factions, includes an Avian Principality. The politics are complex, and the resolution hinges on Prue. There are battles, but the rabble-rousing is less intense than in the gorier series “The Hunger Games,” which is aimed at a similar age group.

“The fact that ‘The Hunger Games’ was so incredibly violent blew me away,” Meloy says. “There’s a fraction of that in these books. We haven’t censored our book because I think there’s a place for that in kids’ imaginations and we do them a discredit to think that they’re not able to handle that.”

Meloy, who counts J.R.R. Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, Roald Dahl and John Bellairs among his favorite authors from childhood, leaves the reader panting for more after the second book.

“I wanted it to have an ‘Empire Strikes Back’ moment,” Meloy says. “The bad guys win a little bit and everybody has to reassess and find the strength to move forward.”

artsBooks Inc.Colin MeloyentertainmentOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Anti-eviction demonstrators rally outside San Francisco Superior Court. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Report: Unpaid rent due to COVID-19 could be up to $32.7M per month

A new city report that attempts to quantify how much rent has… Continue reading

Music venues around The City have largely been unable to reopen due to ongoing pandemic health orders. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF to cut $2.5M in fees to help 300 nightlife venues

San Francisco will cut $2.5 million in fees for hundreds of entertainment… Continue reading

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett departs the U.S. Capitol on October 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump nominated Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after Ginsburg’s death. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)
GOP senators confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court in partisan vote

By Jennifer Haberkorn Los Angeles Times The Senate on Monday confirmed Judge… Continue reading

Curator Tim Burgard looks over a section of the galleries comprising “The de Young Open,” a huge, varied collection of work by Bay Area artists. (Photo courtesy Gary Sexton/Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco)
Bay Area artists jam-pack vivid ‘de Young Open’

Huge exhibition — with works for sale — showcases diversity, supports community

SF Board of Education vice president Gabriela Lopez and commissioner Alison Collins listen at a news conference condemning recent racist and social media attacks targeted at them and the two student representatives on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Online attacks on school board members denounced by city officials

City officials on Monday condemned the targeting of school board members, both… Continue reading

Most Read