Part of a trilogy, Wildwood by Colin Meloy is the first book about two seventh-graders that follow a baby-snatching crow into an enchanted forest full of other-worldly creatures and thus embark on an adventure together (Carpenter). The book uses colour schemes and landscapes inspired from Portland, Oregon scenery, such as grey-greens and red-browns, as well as it pulls much literary inspiration from classic children’s book, such as C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia (Brown). Further, many of the design choices echo the traditional colour schemes of the fairy tale “Red Riding Hood”, as well as incorporate a fusion of older children’s book line illustrations and Polish book designs from the 1960s (Brown, Carpenter). All 85 of the elaborate illustrations included in the book were created by Meloy’s wife, Carson Ellis, who took full liberties with designing quirky characters and the illustrative, script-like text that accompanies many of them, such as on the cover (Brown).
Although the book has quirky moments and humorous scenes, the overall feel of book conveys a murky essence, which is translated well into the illustrations found at every chapter beginning and scattered throughout its pages. The illustrations are whimsical and convey an inspiration for adventure, which attracts children sitting on the brim of self-exploration through literature. Ellis mainly used pen ink, grey tone gouache, or colour gouache to achieve her illustrations, which creates the overall classical look that she wanted to achieve (Brown). Her characters are simple, but sport eye-catching details that invite readers to spend endless moments admiring delicately painted scenes and the artistry that went into creating elaborate spreads and illustrated text. Since Ellis also created all the album covers for her husband’s band, adult fans have followed her work to this novel and have been drawn to reading the book, taking an interest in the rich language presented throughout the novel as well as finding an immense appreciation for a larger collection of Ellis’ works throughout its pages.
Brown, Rachel. “Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis on Their Latest Collaboration, ‘Wildwood’.” The Atlantic, 2011. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/09/colin-meloy-and-carson-ellis-on-their-latest-collaboration-wildwood/244890/.
Carpenter, Susan. “Indie Rocker Tunes Into the Book World: The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy Embarks On A Fantasy Series with ‘Wildwood’.” Los Angeles Times, 2011. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-xpm-2011-sep-07-la-et-colin-meloy-20110907-story.html.
Ellis, Carson. Wildwood book cover. 2011, Wildwood, Colin Meloy, Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins), 2011. front cover.