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Wildwood Book Club

Pete Springer/OPB

Colin Meloy may be best known as the lead singer and songwriter of the popular group The Decemberists, but on-and-off over the last ten years he and has wife have slowly been working on a children’s book. Meloy is the author and his wife, Carson Ellis, is the illustrator.

The story involves a young Portland girl, Prue, and her schoolmate, Curtis, venturing into what they know as the Impassable Wilderness after Prue’s brother is abducted by a murder of crows. Here’s the scene that they first encounter  as they enter the fantastic world of Wildwood (based off Portland’s Forest Park):

Prue stopped and leaned against a fir tree, taking in her verdant surroundings. As far as the eye could see, it was green. As many shades of green as Prue could imagine were draped across the landscape: the electric emerald of the ferns and the sallow olive of the drooping lichen and the stately gray-green of the fir branches. The sun was rising higher in the sky, and it streamed through the gaps of the dense wood. She looked back at Curtis, panting up the hill behind here, and kept walking.

From there, the kids journey on to encounter talking coyote soldiers (in Napoleonic-Era military outfits), government bureaucracy (at the seat of Wildwood’s government: Pittock Mansion), and blood-thirsty ivy.

Here’s the map of the world they created:

Wildwood Map

Earlier this week Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis joined us, and 50 of their biggest fans, at The Literary Arts Center for a conversation about their new book. David Miller moderated, but the audience, aged six to 16 (parents and teachers not allowed!), asked most of the questions. How else would we find out how Meloy feels about collard greens?

Here’s a few photos from the show:

SPOILER ALERT: Most of the kids in the audience had finished reading the book, so some of their questions give away parts of the plot from late in the book. If you are reading the book and don’t want to know what happens next, you might want to wait and podcast this show once you finish.


  • Colin Meloy: Author of Wildwood and lead singer and songwriter of The Decemberists
  • Carson Ellis: Illustrator of Wildwood
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