A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Wildwood, written by the lead singer and songwriter of the Portland, OR, rock band the Decemberists, follows the adventures of a brave pair of children as they face magic and armed combat in a fantasy world. The stakes are high and not every character fares well in the end, but the rewards of the tale well outweigh any drawbacks. Humans and animals fight each other with guns, swords, arrows, and handmade weapons, and the results are realistically, though not bloodily, depicted. An infant is in constant mortal jeopardy, although he is not shown to be physically harmed.
What's the story?
When her baby brother, Mac, is carried away by a flock of crows, seventh grader Prue McKeel embarks on a rescue mission that takes her away from her familiar Portland, OR, neighborhood and into the Impassable Wilderness. Accompanied by Curtis, a socially awkward schoolmate, Prue explores a strange land where gun-wielding coyotes, battle-ready bandits, intrepid forest creatures, and peaceable mystics all react to the machinations of the evil Dowager Governess. Prue and Curtis' first obligation is to save Mac, but they learn that the kidnapped infant is only one part of a scheme to destroy nearly everything in the forest known as Wildwood.
Is it any good?
WILDWOOD is an exciting, charming, and clever tale that finds a unique kind of magic in the forest of the Pacific Northwest. The plot has echoes of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, but it is not slavish to its influences, presenting an unusual and well-drawn mix of adult, child, and animal characters. Meloy has a pleasant, unaffected style, and Ellis' illustrations perfectly complement the text. The first part of a proposed series, Wildwood resolves its central conflict satisfactorily, while leaving enough tantalizing loose ends for further exploration.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the precautions that should be taken while babysitting, even if kidnapping by crows is not high on the list of dangers.
Prue discovers a family secret about herself and her baby brother. Are there some facts that parents are entitled to keep from their young children?
The novel's villain, the Dowager Governess, lost both her husband and her young son. What effect might grief have on a person and how might it change the way he or she views other people?
One character is torn between family life in Portland and life in the Impassable Wilderness. How do people deal with conflicting emotions about their physical proximity to family?
- Author: Colin Meloy
- Illustrator: Carson Ellis
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Publication date: August 30, 2011
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 17
- Number of pages: 546
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Themes & Topics
For kids who love fantasy
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.