One of my first and favourite summer activities is to dig in to the backlog of books I have piled up during the busy-ness of the school year. This year I started with the Wildwood Chronicles. I had been waiting to give proper time and attention to the first book in this series for a couple of years, and now there are three!
As a west coast girl I am in love with the city of Portland. Since our first trip in 2004 we have been back several times and always discover something new. Our last visit included Pittock Mansion (in Southwood!) and quite a bit more of the “Impassable Wilderness”… The way it has been represented so richly in this series of books is a testament to the talents and creative marriage of the author and illustrator:
The story, language and images are all wonderful. Goose-bump inducing actually! I would guess the books are written with a sophisticated upper-elementary school target audience but they are really timeless/ageless… While I was reading the first book I discovered that two of my (adult) girlfriends were reading and loving the series as well. My eight year old loves the stories, although she finds parts to be “too scary”* and my four year old enjoys having passages read aloud.
*This is the same child who has read Anne of Green Gables and The Little House on the Prairie series but who refuses to read any Nancy Drew books as “they might be scary…”
I read through all three books in quick succession – the adventure is compelling, the vocabulary is brilliant, and the images are lovelier from each to the next:
“From the direction of the river, Prue heard a distinctive metallic lowing, an ancient groan of a hundred thousand tons of metal and iron settling into place.
She looked up to see that the fog over the river had erupted into a dense plume of cloud; it towered above her, blotting out the dim blue of the early morning sky. Slowly, shapes began to emerge from the cloud: a distant green arch, a giant coiling cable. The cloud of fog began to dissipate, revealing more and more of this hidden structure until a massive bridge stood before Prue, spanning the distance from the bluffs to the far shore. Its vast span was interrupted by a pair of wide, flat towers, hundreds of feet high, each inset with a series of cathedral-like arches of varying sizes. On either side, tree-trunk-sized cables anchored the tops of the towers to the bridges span.
Prue looked around her quickly to see if anyone else was witnessing this spectacle, but saw that she was alone in this cool dawn of the morning. The fog continued to fall away from the bridge until it pooled just beneath the surface of the span, revealing the awesome edifice in its entirety. The river remained covered in mist.”
The story continues with Under Wildwood and then with Wildwood Imperium…
I know I’m not the only fan – readers, writers and artists from all over have enthused about the world of Wildwood:
The elaborate magic-realism reminds me a bit of The Wind in the Willows, and of Narnia, and then also of these three gems from our own library:
…which is my very favourite part of being a reader: making connections to a text; connecting that to other texts; reading, rereading, savouring and sharing; celebrating the process.
Today I am grateful for the luxury of summer and the time to read, and for great creative people who give us stories like Wildwood to journey into.