This is the first book of a new series called “The Wildwood Chronicles,” written by Colin Meloy, lead-singer of the Decemberists, and illustrated by his wife, Carson Ellis, who also illustrated the Mysterious Benedict Society series (my review of the first book of that series is here). If your kids enjoy this series, you might be interested in checking out the extras at “The Wildwood Chronicles” website here. They have a really good discussion guide for Wildwood, and an iTunes playlists for each book, which is fun.
My Mom-Meter gives this particular book an overall safety rating of 2 (Moderately Safe) for ages 9 and up.
Wikipedia has a good synopsis of the book here, and here is a trailer for the book that sums up the feeling of the book:
Here are the potential moral issues parents might wish to talk with their kids about:
- Prue’s parents seem very negligent, not noticing that their one year old is missing.
- Prue hides the fact that her brother is missing from her parents. Potential Discussion Point: Should kids hide something like that from their parents?
- The Dowager Governess is going to kill Prue’s baby brother and feed his blood to the ivy to take over Wildwood. This is the one small mention of magic in the book. The Dowager has to say some words before feeding the ivy to get it to obey her commands.
- Prue’s parents wanted to have children so much that they agreed to give their second born child to the Dowager Governess if they could have a baby. They did not think they would ever have another child after Prue, and Prue’s baby brother was born so many years after the agreement, they hoped that the Dowager had forgotten. Potential Discussion Point: Have you ever made an agreement with someone, thinking that you would never have to fulfill your part of the bargain? Is that ever a good idea?
- Prue’s friend, Curtis, decides to stay in Wildwood and doesn’t say goodbye to his family. He just becomes a missing child. Potential Discussion Point: Was that kind of Curtis? How do you think his family felt? How do you think you would feel if your pet decided to leave and not say goodbye?
- Curtis joins the Bandits. Potential Discussion Point: Why were they called Bandits? Is that a good way to live?
- Prue’s parents do not go after their baby when they find out where he is (they don’t know that the Dowager plans to kill him). They also try to keep Prue from going back to rescue him. their point is that they didn’t think they could have any children, so they will be grateful to have Prue. Potential Discussion Point: Do you think that your parents would ever give up if you or your sibling disappeared?
From a kid’s perspective: “Kids 9 and up that like mystery, adventure, and talking animals would like this book. I give it 4 stars out of 5 stars.”
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