A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Under Wildwood is the sequel to 2011's Wildwood, by Colin Meloy (lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the folk-rock band the Decemberists), and picks up the fanciful story without missing a beat. Young children are sent to an awful orphanage and forced to work in a factory, a lead character fights a supernatural assassin, children battle wild animals and muscle-bound adults, and two minor characters were physically mutilated before this story begins -- one had both hands cut off, one was blinded. But the level of danger in the story never rises to a point likely to upset anyone other than the most sensitive readers. And there's only minor cursing: a couple of instances of "damned" or "damnedest."
What's the story?
Although her friend Curtis Mehlberg is happy have stayed behind in the Impassable Wilderness to live with his bandit pals, Prue McKeel finds herself out of sorts as she tries to resume her life in Portland. She soon learns, however, that her life is in danger. Pursued by a relentless, shape-shifting assassin, she finds herself back in the Woods, just as one of her most treasured allies is destroyed. Meanwhile Curtis' sisters, Elsie and Rachel, are held at a strange orphanage and must devise a plan of escape.
Is it any good?
UNDER WILDWOOD is an inventive fantasy adventure that recaptures some, but not all, of the magic of its predecessor. Author Colin Meloy and illustrator Carson Ellis continue to emphasize the sly humor and generous spirit of the narrative. The action is split roughly in two, alternating between returning characters Prue and Curtis and new additions Elsie and Rachel. Unfortunately, the Prue and Curtis sections feel repetitive, while the Elsie and Rachel portions get bogged down in an unpleasant and not terribly gripping scenario. Things pick up as the two groups stumble toward each other, but Under Wildwood feels very much like the muddled middle volume of a trilogy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the geography and history of places like Portland can be used as the building blocks for fantasy stories. Does it make the fantasy more interesting to be located in a real city?
How do you think Under Wildwood compares with the original Wildwood? Is it as exciting?
Would you be able to go off your own and live away from your parents and siblings for a great length of time? What kinds of resources would you need to survive and be happy?
- Author: Colin Meloy
- Illustrator: Carson Ellis
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Publication date: September 25, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 576
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love fantasy and adventure
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.