With ‘The Search for WondLa,’ ‘Spiderwick Chronicles’ artist Tony DiTerlizzi spins a new tale

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This a good time to judge Tony DiTerlizzi‘s book by its cover: The award-winning illustrator and author says his new young-reader novel, ‘The Search for WondLa,’ is the most representative of his own personal style in its art, story and tone.

‘I’ve always been a chameleon from book to book, like a director who does different films in the best possible way,’ said the bestselling creator known for his work on ‘The Spiderwick Chronicles’ (a collaboration with Holly Black) and the Caldecott-winning ‘The Spider and the Fly.’

‘WondLa’ is the first in a planned series of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and hits stores on Sept. 21. In addition, Paramount Pictures, which brought ‘Spiderwick’ to the screen in 2008, has already scooped up the rights to the story of a young girl on a quest in a strange land.


The cover, shown above for the first time anywhere, was influenced in composition by the movie poster style of 1970s and ‘80s action and adventure films such as ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ but DiTerlizzi said this time around the work on the page is more revealing of his core personal style. On previous projects, he said, he tilted his sensibilities toward some classic names.

With ‘Spider and Fly,’ the illustrator pulled on the work of Edward Gorey and Charles Addams; with ‘Spiderwick,’ it was the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. But now, ‘this project is more purely me.’ The science-fiction setting presented in the book is secondary to its tale of family and the yearning for connection.

The target-reader age is up this time around; DiTerlizzi said the material aims for 10 and older, an age when youngsters strike out on their own. ‘The books that stick with you, ‘Charlotte’s Web’ and ‘Stuart Little,’ ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and others by Roald Dahl, that’s the age when readers find them.’

-- Geoff Boucher


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Top: ‘The Search for WondLa’; credit: copyright Tony DiTerlizzi, 2010. Bottom: Tony DiTerlizzi; credit: Kim Pilla