For those of you with the misfortune of NOT knowing who Tony DiTerlizzi is, let me inform you. Not only is he a critically acclaimed illustrator, he’s the author and co-author of many young adult/middle grade bestsellers such as The Spiderwick Chronicles (co-authored with Holly Black), Kenny and the Dragon, and The Search for WondLa Trilogy. I feel that DiTerlizzi has done for this generation what Brian Froud did for the last–helped children (and adults) the world over bring fantastical imaginings to life with a rare artistic talent. I strongly encourage you to check out his blog/website/sketchbook, which is why I’ve provided a link above.
And, if I could illustrate half as well as he can… Let’s just say I could die happy.
I would describe The Search for WondLa as a futuristic Wizard of Oz. In fact, Eva Nine’s journey is like Star Wars and the Wizard of Oz combined. There’s a young innocent girl desperately seeking something, a patchy smart-aleck accomplice, a companion made of metal, and a lumbering loveable beast. All suddenly–and rather violently–landed into a wonderful and dangerous world.
While, DiTerlizzi’s novel didn’t hold me in thrall the way that Holly Black’s have done in the past, I did enjoy this story. It’s one of those send-a-message-but-not-shove-it-down-your-throat ideas. I think it will especially resonate with today’s youth, since it begs the question: What really makes a family? It isn’t always the Pleasantville archtype–in fact, nuclear families are becoming the rare these days… A family is a patchwork quilt of people (or aliens, in this case) who love you and want to protect you and lift you up. Very nice.
DiTerlizzi also includes something within the story that is the first I have stumbled upon… Augmented Reality. The story includes small markings at the bottom of a few pages within, and after downloading an app from his website, readers are invited to share “WondLa vision.” This includes interactive maps of Eva’s world, as well as three-dimensional “Total Immersion” techniques in which the reader can move around by altering the distance the book is from the screen.
We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto…
Unfortunately, due to my sudden move I was without Internet access for a few days *gasp!* and while I was reading WondLa, I had no way to get online. Alas, the book is now 4000+ miles away from me. I’ll have to look into it some other time.
3 Omnipods of 5