The Edge Chronicles, Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Young Twig lives in the Deepwoods, among the Woodtrolls, but he isn’t one of them. In a brave attempt to find out where he belongs, Twig wanders into the mysterious, dangerous world beyond the Deepwoods. He meets a collection of odd companions, such as his wise guardian, the Caterbird; the Slaughterers, a peaceful race who butcher animals for their livelihood; and the vicious, bile-swilling Rotsucker. Always watching out for the horrible Gloamglozer, whose presence haunts the thoughts of all the inhabitants of The Edge, Twig steadfastly pursues his quest until he discovers his roots, not among the trees, but in the skies. . . .
Lexile level: 720
Fountas and Pinnell: approximately V
I'm a little pissed at you all for never telling me about them! They are super cute. He got the first one yesterday at the library, blew through it last night, and would have finished the second this evening, but we had family movie night (the 1970's animated Phantom Tollbooth, with Mel Blanc, et al). I read someone compare these to Terry Pratchett's discworld, and I think that is very apt. They are more gross and gory than many books he'd read. A tree tries to eat Twig. A hover snake has a bite which can make victims explode. There are pictures like this:
But the world is so fully formed and alien that it doesn't feel as adult as, say, Artemis Fowl, and the menace doesn't feel so close as something like the Egypt Game serial killer or even the conspiracies in Benedict Society. I really enjoy the interior monologue Twig has going, and the pros and cons Stewart lays out for the different variations of Deep Woods societies.