A Decemberist walks into a publishing house.
I started this news story with that famous first line of old man jokes everywhere, because I wanted to start it with a joke about how Wildwood, Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy’s first-ever children’s book features a plot along the lines of “Wicked, drunk grizzly bear takes children on magical, olde tyme-y journey to a whimsical carnival in the Appalachian mountains, where he teaches them lessons about life and friendship… and then just eats the S#%$ out of them.” It writes itself, really. But then I read the synopsis, and well, it’s a children’s book by the guy from The Decemberists, so OF COURSE it’s about a brave little lady who goes on a whimsical/dangerous quest to save her brother from a bunch of badass crows… and probably learns lessons about life and friendship along the way.
Sure, Meloy’s stories of yesteryear are easy to caricature, but that’s because dude’s style is so distinctive and unabashed. And all jokes aside, I kind of want to crawl inside this book, into its Decemberists-website-described “world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions.” (This is much like what I imagine goes on inside the product art for Celestial Seasonings.) The book’s illustrations were drawn by Meloy’s wife, Carson Ellis, and they’re every bit as charming as I hope this book will be. Throw a benevolent fox into this story and I’m even more sold.
Wildwood is available to literary-minded adventurers come August 30. If you can’t wait that long, you can like the book on Facebook and get a sneak peak at the first four chapters. The Decemberists haven’t released any original songs to accompany the book, but Meloy has posted a playlist that jives with Wildwood’s feel on the book’s website. So, you can introduce your kids (or the kid in you, I guess) to the joy of reading, and to the music of Karen Dalton and Esben and the Witch at the same time.