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We’re here! Bagdad Theater for the Wildwood release (put on by Powell’s)

Last night was such at treat.  I posted yesterday about the release of Wildwood, the new book written and illustrated by the collaborative efforts of Colin Meloy of the Decemberist and his wife, illustrator Carson Ellis.  The event was hosted by Powell’s books and I think turned out to be a HUGE success (must have been–the tickets were sold out!).  I was interested to see what kind of crowd the event drew. Like I said yesterday, the book is technically a “children’s novel”, however it definitely has an adult sophistication to it.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of children-teenagers who were at the debut.  I definitely didn’t have the chance to do anything like that growing up.  I will take a momentary pause to say that it was not my parents’ fault.  How wants to debut a highly anticipated novel in Texarkana, TX. I’ll tell you.  No one.

Got my copy! Got my seat! Ready to hear Carson & Colin speak! (100% did not realize that rhymed until I was proofing this post)

The one thing I was disappointed about was they did not do personalized signings.  All of our books were signed already when we arrived and were handed out as we walked into the theater.  I was a tad bummed, but I completely understand why they did it.  The Bagdad Theater holds 590 people (yup, had to google that) and we would have been there all night if each guest had 1-2 books signed and personalized.  I was thrilled, however, to see that they both signed each book.  Not sure why I assumed that only Colin would sign them but both of their signatures are there on the front page!  Personalized or un-personalized, this marks my FIRST signed first edition book.  That the book is a children’s novel, set in Portland, and I attended the premiere makes it all the better.

Colin Meloy of the Decemberists reading from Wildwood.  Map of Portland, as interpreted from the book, in the background.
Carson Ellis talking about her process of illustrating the novel. AMAZING to hear her speak about it!

In case you’ve never been, the best part of a book premiere, hands down, is hearing about the book from the author(s) themselves.  This experience was unique in that we heard from both the author and illustrator.  They talked about their inspiration, process, struggles, future plans, etc. etc.  For some reason, hearing a reading from the author makes me enjoy a novel SO much better.  I think it derives from hearing the enunciation and tone the author’s voice gives the passages.  You hear how the characters’ voices sound in the author’s head, the ups and downs of their voice while reading–it makes the experience for me.

There would be no way for me to go through everything they talked about last night, but I have jotted down a few of the things I found most interesting to share.

  • The illustrations in the book were created with pen, well ink, and gauche.
  • Wildwood is the first edition of a three-part (potentially more) series.  Colin is already about 40 pages in to the next installment and they hope to have it on shelves in about a year.
  • There is a brief mention of a badger carrying a rick-shaw in the novel.  Colin said it really didn’t fit but he put it in the book just because he knew that Carson would love to draw it.  Turns out, the publisher pushed to remove the illustration but they fought to keep it.
  • The process of developing the coyote soldiers was very interesting.  They started, in her first sketch, looking more dog-like, on all fours, wearing armor.  They went through a few different sketches before they decided to take a Wind in the Willows approach to animalanthropomorphism and make the coyotes a little less realistic and a little more imaginative. Thus, the coyote soldiers depicted standing on two legs wearing Napoleonic regalia.
SALLYN after the event! SO READY TO GO HOME AND READ! Ha!
Signed first edition of Wildwood!

I fell asleep while reading last night but I am already hooked on this book and encourage everyone to go out and grab a copy!!  The last thing I’ll mention, because I’ve had a few comments posted regarding this, is yes, the language in this book is challenging.  That said, Colin addressed it so well last night when asked about it.  There is no reason a middle school aged child couldn’t read and digest this novel and understand its content.  There is also no reason why we shouldn’t be challenging young readers to have a better understanding of vocabulary.  SO, in answer to the questions, I don’t see any reason why a young teenager couldn’t read this.  I admit I even had to look up one word last night on the ‘ole Webster’s app on my phone.  It’s simultaneous learning and reading enjoyment! (and isn’t that the best kind of learning anyway?!  The kind disguised as something fun!?)

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Hello blogging world!  How I have missed working on my posts.  I think I can be qualified as one of the world worst bloggers on account of my three month hiatus. That said, I have returned to my blog with a new attitude towards it.  Thanks to my father as I blame him for my OCD personality (though he adamantly denies it, he’s far worse than I) which is what I attribute my failing blogging efforts to! Towards the end of last year, it had become overwhelming and strangely intimidating for me to try and post everyday which is what I felt that I needed to do to keep up. That’s the same reason that I can never stick with a diet plan or New Years resolution–it just overwhelms me somehow.  However, I find that if I go into things like this with the right mindset it tends to turn out a little better.  So I am pressing forward with my blog excited to share recipes, stories, things that I love, etc. as often as I can while making sure I am still enjoying it.

Along with my return as Mrs. Fancy Pantz, I am moving forward with four other things in my life that will require an unusual amount of dedication and commitment from me–whether or not I’m willing or ready to put it forward.  I am moving into a new position at work starting April 5, starting P90x on Monday to try and get myself ready for the summer, starting a Kaplan class to prepare for the GMAT for graduate school, and a New Years resolution that I didn’t commit to until March! Ha!  The change of pace at work should be good, I’m dreading P90x but it needs to happen, and lets face it, no one wants to study and work full time, so I’ll fill everyone in on my New Years resolution because it’s the most exciting of the four!

I love to read.  It’s a favorite hobby of mine…probably my favorite.  I’ve never had an organized or targeted approach to reading but that’s changing my friends.  I have lists on napkins and scraps of paper in drawers all over the place with lists of books that I want to read.  That said, my lists and the number of books that I own that I haven’t delved into yet far out number the ones that I have.  The majority of what makes up my lists are classics that I either haven’t read and am definitely missing out because of it, or I was forced to read in high school or some college lit class and never fully appreciated it.  A few weeks ago, I came across Random House Publishing’s list of The Top 100 Novels of All Time.  Brilliance.

Click here to view the list.

I will be first working from the “Reader’s List” and when I complete that one I’ll move to the “Board’s List”.  I’m excited to have a targeted approach to my reading and even more pumped that I’ll someday have read ALL of these timeless pieces of literature.  I’m committing to read 50 this year but I’m hoping that I’ll finish more than that.  The first one I read was #53 The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

I have my wonderful friend April to thank for this suggestion!  I really enjoyed this read.  The story is about a woman named Offred who is a handmaid (essentially a modern day concubine) in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian and theocratic state that has replaced the United States of America. Because of dangerously low reproduction rates, handmaids are assigned to bear children for elite couples that have trouble conceiving.  The story is a very progressive representation of world in which men control women’s bodies–it is interesting to read this interpretation so clearly weighted on the side of women when it wasn’t too many years ago that women feared this type of society deriving.  I honestly wouldn’t consider myself too much of a feminist though it’s an interesting thought to ponder…

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

My next read is #2 on the list The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.  Honestly this one has been a little tough to get into, however, I am pushing through!  Resisting the urge to become too long winded, I am going to end my post here. I’ll be posting again soon though. Happy Sunday!