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"What a city! What a night! What a crowd! What a bomb! What a mistake! What a wanker you have for President!"

-- Bono, in Paris, on Jacques Chirac, 1995

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Book Review: Cedarwood: A Fairytale of Innocence

@U2, October 24, 2015
By: Scott Calhoun

 

U2 fans Andre Thyret and Melanie Dohle of Germany dreamed up Cedarwood: A Fairytale Of Innocence to share the joy and inspiration they have found in U2 with their two young daughters, and to do a little good in the big wide world. With the help of illustrator Maxim Muravski, their dream is now a reality with lots of heart, lovely images, and a simple, positive story in which friendship means you take time to help each other.

This is the kind of book that’s just too endearing in look, concept and spirit to pass up. Because the authors are donating all the proceeds from sales to (RED), there's even more reason to not pass it up. Young-at-heart U2 fans will want a copy in their library and I think they will find it hard to resist getting extra copies to give to the young readers in their lives. Cedarwood is currently available in German or English, but the authors hinted they have plans to release it in more languages. It is available only through the book's website at this time.

The story is a fanciful imagining of a young Bono on a pleasant day in Dublin. It’s not hard to imagine, however, that the spirit of the real Bono would have done just what this young Bono does. As he walks across town to meet his friend Gavin at a special concert he's been looking forward to, he comes across opportunities that, while slowing him down, give him the chance to help his friends. There are three opportunities, to be exact, and they are named Adam, Larry and Edge. Will Bono make it to the show on time to hear the concert he's been so looking forward to?

But better than having me describe the story is hearing from two very junior @U2 staffers. Senior staffer Sherry Lawrence was one of the first U.S. fans to get an English edition, and she read it with her daughter Gracie, 6, the day it arrived.

"It was so sweet. It's about helping your friends and the good feeling you get when you help others. My favorite part was when Bono used his guitar to help Edge in the river. I'm sad Bono can't play his guitar anymore, so I'm glad in the story he could still use it to help others,” Gracie said.

I got a paperback version and a limited-edition hardback version, both of which are well-made with high-quality printing and binding. The limited-edition hardback comes with extra pages of Irish children's songs and a page for you to write down your dreams, and is shipped with a set of postcards featuring scenes from the book. My wife and I read it with our daughter Rose, 4, soon after it arrived. Rose said, “I like how he helped his friends and his mom made him chocolate cake!”

Out since late September, Cedarwood is now shipping to many countries and the authors couldn’t be happier that their “family project” is being enjoyed by so many fans. I asked Andre Thyret through email about their inspiration for the book and the reactions they’ve been hearing from fans.

@U2: How did you and Melanie become U2 fans? When did that start for you?

Thyret: I have intensively followed U2 since the late 1980s, when The Joshua Tree and my schoolmates who loved U2 completely infected me. My first U2 concert was only a few minutes away from home for me -- the Lovetown show in Westfalenhalle- Dortmund, Germany. In 1992, my schoolmate Björn and I traveled to North America to follow the first leg of ZooTV. That's where I met Bono for the first time in person, at the Bel Age hotel in West Hollywood after the Los Angeles Sports Arena show. It is still a magic moment for me because Bono took some time to talk to me. I have attended approximately 30 U2 concerts and have never missed a tour. Melanie is also in love with U2 and has been for a very long time, since Achtung Baby, but she is a little bit more moderate and kind of "middle of the road." Our newest U2 fan club member in our family is our first-born daughter Mavie, who is now 6.

@U2: What are your and Melanie’s professional backgrounds? What roles did you have in making this book?

Thyret: I'm a freelance communication designer, working mostly on campaigns for cinema and television projects. I lead the creative process for Cedarwood and worked on all the image scenery, the character setup, designing the overall book and communication layouts, and I worked closely with our illustrator Maxim Muravski, who is a young and very talented illustrator from Russia.

Melanie is our "cool head," responsible for communication, logistics, project management and delivery deadlines. She is a trained and experienced banker and I really love her enthusiasm for working on our project for (RED). When we were first thinking about the book, Melanie and I developed the storyboard together.

This is our first publishing project and we're still learning every day. (Hello to our media lawyer in Hamburg!)

 @U2: Have you had any contact with (RED)? What do they think about it?

Thyret: We understand that the whole project might sound a little bit naive, but we are very serious about it. We believe in the intersection of our little book, the power of (RED), and many U2 fans with children (just like us) who as well might feel uneasy about the current state of the world. To be honest, in terms of donating the proceeds from Cedarwood to (RED), we are currently kind of "all in." We are in touch with the Berlin branch of ONE, but we don't have any feedback or signal from (RED) as of yet. I hope it's just because (RED) is so big and Cedarwood so tiny that they just didn't realize we're even here.

@U2: What are you hearing back from your readers?

Thyret: Our book orders are coming in very fast and we received fantastic feedback so far. We never expected this flood of personal thank you messages and photos. (See the montage of pictures fans have taken of their books, with even a fan having Edge sign her poster from the book at one of U2’s Berlin shows). The messages are very widespread, from sharing funny reading experiences with kids or amazing thank you notes, to collector´s inquiries and astonished people just asking, "Is this for real?" Everyone seems to like it. We sold out the first German edition and now it is back in stock. We hope the word spreads so we can share our dreams with others and help (RED) too.

You can follow the Cedarwood dream on Facebook, get news of the project as it develops, and see extra illustrations not in the book.

_Cedarwood Rd. montage with Edge

 

(c) @U2/Calhoun, 2015



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