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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hilda books by Luke Pearson

Hilda books by Luke PearsonHilda and The Troll,
Hilda and The Midnight Giant,
Hilda and The Bird Parade,
Hilda and The Black Hound,
by Luke Pearson
published by Flying Eye Books/Nobrow Press

Hilda and The Troll (originally titled Hildafolk, a play on Icelandic huldufólk) introduces us to a blue-haired tween living with her mother in an idyllic mountainous region. Along with Twig, a deerfox (fox with antlers), for company, Hilda is perfectly content exploring the woods and drawing rocks (she loves rocks!) in her sketchbook.

Hilda books by Luke Pearson
The first book, Hilda and The Troll, quickly establishes her world filled with mythical creatures who are not confined to a separate magical realm but seamlessly integrate into Hilda's reality.

Hilda gets her adventure in this story when she encounters a suspiciously troll-looking rock. However, it is the world-building that captures the readers right from the start.

Hilda reads in a book that it is customary to tie a bell around a troll's neck so you can hear him coming, and proceeds to do so without much agonizing. But later realizes her mistake when the same book explains that this is a cruel and out-dated practice and the trolls don't like it.

Hilda immediately rectifies the situation, and the troll very kindly gives back her sketchbook she had dropped near him earlier and walks away. Simple as that. No moralizing, no saccharine, no tied-up-in-a-bow closure.

Hilda books by Luke Pearson
Hilda and The Midnight Giant gets interesting right from the start as Hilda finds letters strewn over her house that turn out to be eviction notices.

What else can she expect when her cottage happens to sit in the middle of the village inhabited by invisible elves. As she has her hands full trying to find the right person to negotiate with, Hilda also investigates the mysterious giant who shows up every night for no apparent reason.

The hilarious rollicking adventure leads up to a satisfying surprise ending.

In Hilda and The Bird Parade, we move to the bustling city of Trolberg with Hilda and her mom. Friendship and doing the right thing are woven into the story ever-so-subtly, but it is the talking amnesiac raven that delights us with his personality and insights.

Behind-the-scenes mom takes on a bit more of a worry-wart role in this book, anxious about Hilda's safety in the city and asking her to stay home and watch TV instead. But through her fabulous adventure, Hilda learns a lot more about herself, her values, and her relationship with her mom. All's well that ends well. This was the most popular of the four books with the kids.

Hilda books by Luke PearsonThe last one for now, (hope more comes out soon), Hilda and The Black Hound uses dark palette to convey an ominous presence - a mysterious beast.

With a nod to the Girl Scouts, this book has Hilda working hard to earn her merit badges as a Sparrow Scout. However, it is the Nisse that captivated our attention - a house elf who is without a house.

Spatial laws are ignored in this installment as Nisse live in their own dimension within the three dimensions of a house. The ending is heart-pumping and extremely satisfying.

The four Hilda books have been a huge hit with both the kids, and myself, attesting to the versatility and all-ages appeal of these comics.

Hilda books by Luke Pearson
The art is charming and beautiful, and the limited color palette works perfectly for each story. The colors speak as much as the characters by offering a safe sunny setting for Hilda's adventures with muted colors, as well as drama and movement with deeper colors when the situation changes.

The text is crisp and witty and funny, peppered with social commentary and keen observations of human tendencies.

Hilda is not a typical goody-two-shoes, and is not quirky for the sake of it. Her environment seamlessly blends the magical with the real, encircling an interesting cast of creatures.

[image source: Luke Pearson website]

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