Carson Ellis

Carson Ellis is the illustrator of many books for kids, such as The Mysterious Benedict Society and Lemony Snicket's The Composer is Dead. I first noticed her work in Wildwood, written by her husband Colin Meloy, who I knew of because of his indie band The Decemberists, which I knew about because I had once picked up their CD in a record store . . . because of its amazing cover illustration. 

She uses a muted palate of colors and her illustrations have the old-timey feeling of folk art. They are simple and two dimensional, like Grandma Moses, except where Grandma Moses painted realistic scenes of everyday life, Ellis draws imagined life. Wildwood tells the story of Prue, whose little brother gets kidnapped by a lot of birds and she must enter the Impassable Wilderness to get him back. The premise is that Portland, Oregon's Forest Park — an 8-mile park within the city limits forested with old growth trees — is host to a hidden world of strange people, talking animals and bandits; and only those who can see the Ghost Bridge (St. John's Bridge), can find their way in. There are three books in the series. 


She thrust her hands into the robe's pocket and retrieved the three things she'd stowed there: an eagle's feather. A pearly stone. A boy's full set of teeth. (from Wildwood Imperium)

Castaways and Cutouts, The Decemberists

Crossing the Ghost Bridge

I can't believe this has been here all along and I never even knew it.

The thing that instantly demanded Curtis's attention was the massive twist of roots that hung from the ceiling — what a tree must be above this system of limbs! — and the ominous array of rickety wooden cages that hung from the thick tendrils.