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.

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

Just Posted

Dominion Voting Systems, a Denver-based vendor, is under contract to supply voting machines for elections in San Francisco. (Kevin N. Hume/Examiner file)
Is San Francisco’s elections director impeding voting machine progress?

Open source technology could break up existing monopoly

The 49ers take on the Packers in Week 3 of the NFL season, before heading into a tough stretch of divisional opponents. (Courtesy San Francisco 49ers)
‘Good for Ball’ or ‘Bad for Ball’ — A Niners analysis

By Mychael Urban Special to The Examiner What’s the first thing that… Continue reading

Health experts praised Salesforce for keeping its Dreamforce conference at Moscone Center outdoors and on a small scale. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Happy birthday, Marc Benioff. Your company did the right thing

Salesforce kept Dreamforce small, which made all kinds of sense

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, pictured with Rose Pak in 2014, says the late Chinatown activist was “helping to guide the community away from the divisions, politically.”
Willie and Rose: How an alliance for the ages shaped SF

How the Mayor and Chinatown activist shaped San Francisco, then and now

The Grove in Golden Gate Park is maintained largely by those who remember San Francisco’s 20,000 AIDS victims.<ins> (Open Eye Pictures/New York Times)</ins>
Looking at COVID through the SF prism of AIDS

AIDS took 40 years to claim 700,000 lives. COVID surpassed that number in 21 months

Most Read