February 12, 2013

What I'm Reading: Wildwood

It's been a while, but I'm happy to be back. One thing I've done this year is make more time to read and generally relax. I spent the majority of January reading Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with my sophomore class and enjoyed it so thoroughly, I wanted another text in a similar vein. So when I thought about Huck Finn, I wanted a text that would have a lot of nature scenes or descriptions, a fun, whimsical story, with characters I could truly admire. I really thought I would just have to pick up another Twain piece, but then I saw this post from One Sheepish Girl and instantly fell in love with the cover art of Wildwood (yes, some of us still judge books by their covers). I had a little money left on a giftcard from Christmas, so I ordered it online after reading a few blurbs about it (I think I paid less than $12 total).
A few things caught my attention about Wildwood. The illustrations on the cover of Wildwood looks familiar to me, so after I realized Colin Meloy, the leadsinger of the Decemberists, is the author, it all clicked. Meloy's lady friend, Carson Ellis, is the illustrator behind both the Decemberists website and also this book! Cool!

So, once I was completely finished with Huck Finn, I picked up Wildwood and was instantly smitten. The illustrations alone made me excited to read, but when I cracked it open and realized that it wasn't written as a book for kids--it was a book for really inquisitive, smart kids--I was overjoyed. I don't read a lot of young adult literature any more (which I should probably change), and I certainly don't find myself in the kids section very often, so to read a book that has middle schoolers as the target audience and actually enjoy it was awesome!

What baffles me, though, is that while the storyline is fairly simplistic and wonderfully whimsical, the language is extremely complex. As nerdy as it sounds, I've counted 40+ SAT vocabulary words throughout the text, and I'm not even at page 200 yet! I plan on recommending this text to some of my sophomores as an easy book to read over the summer that can also simultaneously enhance their vocabulary. It'll seem like a dream come true, I'm sure.

Wildwood follows the story of Prue McKeel's sojourn through the mysterious Impassable Wilderness, otherwise known as Wildwood, area outside of Portland, Oregon in search of her baby brother. As she discovers this magical, animal-controlled world, she also realizes the terrors of being away from home, having to trust four-legged creatures and nature itself.

Although I haven't finished it yet--on page 200 out of 540+--I'm excited to keep reading. Usually a longer text like this doesn't keep my attention long enough for me to actually finish, but this is certainly a keeper! Also, I love books in series, and the second book, Under Wildwood, has already hit the shelves. I'm eager to give that a shot, too, to see how Meloy continues this story!

What have you been reading in 2013?


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