Laika options “Wildwood,” Colin Meloy’s 1st novel

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"Wildwood" - Laika

Wild­wood” — Laika

Laika has optioned “Wild­wood,” the debut Harper­Collins children’s novel writ­ten by Colin Meloy, lead singer and song­writer for rock band The Decem­berists, with illus­tra­tions by award-winning artist Car­son Ellis.

The announce­ment was made Thurs­day by Travis Knight, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Port­land, Oregon-based ani­ma­tion stu­dio. Laika, which pro­duced the Oscar-and BAFTA-nominated fea­ture film Cora­line, is cur­rently in pro­duc­tion on the 3D stop-motion ani­mated fea­ture film Para­Nor­man.

Wild­wood is a mar­vel, an exquis­ite, stag­ger­ing, and lyri­cal work of art,” said Knight. “It’s an uncan­nily per­fect fit for Laika, com­min­gling the time-honored qual­i­ties of clas­sic fan­tasies and fairy tales with a bold, con­tem­po­rary sen­si­bil­ity. Colin’s cap­ti­vat­ing, melodic prose and Carson’s gor­geous, spell­bind­ing illus­tra­tions form a rich bounty of ideas, lan­guage, and imagery. Wild­wood is a won­der­ful work of lit­er­a­ture, and Laika is fully com­mit­ted to hon­or­ing it with an excep­tional, ground­break­ing film.”

Wild­wood, the first book in an epic middle-grade fan­tasy series full of magic, won­der, and dan­ger set in an alter­nate ver­sion of modern-day Port­land, Ore­gon, tells the story of Prue McK­eel, whose ordi­nary life is changed for­ever when her younger brother is abducted by a mur­der of crows and taken to the Impass­able Wilder­ness, an enchanted and for­bid­ding for­est on the edge of Port­land. No one’s ever gone in — or at least returned to tell of it. Within this secret world, Prue and her friend Cur­tis embark on a res­cue mis­sion and find them­selves entwined in a vio­lent strug­gle for free­dom amidst war­ring crea­tures, peace­able mys­tics, and pow­er­ful fig­ures with the dark­est intentions.

Filled with 85 intri­cate and beau­ti­ful illus­tra­tions by artist Car­son Ellis, Wild­wood is pub­lished by Harper­Collins’ Balzer + Bray imprint. To view the ani­mated trailer cre­ated by Laika/house for the book, visit www.laika.com/details.php?id=399&company=house.

Hands down, there is no other movie stu­dio in the entire world besides Laika that I would entrust Wild­wood to,” said Meloy. “Car­son and I were pre­pared to stonewall any and all suit­ors for the movie rights, so close was this book to our hearts. How­ever, when Laika came call­ing, our defenses promptly came down. There is no doubt in my mind that they will come to this story with the pas­sion, imag­i­na­tion and gen­eral awe­some­ness required to make this book into a truly beau­ti­ful ani­mated film.”

I’m a stop motion enthu­si­ast,” said Ellis, “and I’ve been a fan of Laika since we saw Cora­line a cou­ple of years back. When we vis­ited the stu­dio and saw all the bril­liant cre­ative work hap­pen­ing there — some­one build­ing a waist-high New Eng­land vil­lage in painstak­ing detail, some­one else sewing pinhead-sized riv­ets on tiny blue jeans — we were won over com­pletely. It’s an amaz­ing place staffed by patient, metic­u­lous, super-talented peo­ple who wouldn’t work there if they didn’t love stop-motion ani­ma­tion. I’m so excited to see what Wild­wood will look like in their hands.”

Meloy once wrote Ray Brad­bury a let­ter, inform­ing him that he “con­sid­ered him­self an author too.” He was 10 years old at the time. Since then, he has gone on to be the singer and song­writer for The Decem­berists, where he chan­nels all of his weird ideas into weird songs. This is his first time chan­nel­ing those ideas into a novel.

Ellis, who first rose to promi­nence for cre­at­ing The Decem­berists’ album cov­ers, illus­trated the best­sellers The Com­poser is Dead (Lemony Snicket) and The Mys­te­ri­ous Bene­dict Soci­ety (Tren­ton Lee Stew­art), as well the notable children’s books The Beau­ti­ful Sto­ries of Life, Stage­coach Sal and Dillweed’s Revenge.

Meloy and Ellis live with their son Hank in Port­land, Ore­gon, quite near the Impass­able Wilderness.

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