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Hilda and the Troll (Hildafolk) Hardcover – September 17, 2013
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"Plain smart and moving. John Stanley's Little Lulu meets Miyazaki."
Guillermo Del Toro
Pearson’s utter lack of pretension keeps Hilda feeling fresh, while his reading of folktales and Tove Jansson’s Moomin series embeds Hilda in the long history of children’s stories. [ ] Hilda’s dilemmas, while fantastic, also feel real [ ] Pearson has found a lovely new way to dramatize childhood demons, while also making you long for your own cruise down the fjords.
The New Yorker
"Hilda and the Troll tells the story of an artistic Scandinavian girl as she explores the unknown wilderness around her house, encountering a blue fox with antlers, the msyterious 'wood man,' and (you guessed it!) a troll. The art is as whimsical as the protagonist, and the bright colors enhance this comic book's magical-realistic effect." -The Horn Book
"A master of mood-enhancing colors, Pearson nudges the story from vivid to haunting at a pen-stroke, ending with a book that is vibrant delight with just an edge of spine-tingling danger. A really great story for ages six-and-up, and anyone else who thinks comics are best read with flashlights under the covers."
"Take a look at the little blue-haired girl on the cover of this book. That is the face of a determined adventurer, a young girl with an inquisitive nature and the heart of an explorer" -5 Minutes For Books.
"Pearson is a rising star." -New Yorker
From the Back Cover
Sea spirits, giants, weird woodmen and trolls; Hilda's outings never quite fall into the realm of the ordinary. And this one certainly has some surprises, but of course, as Hilda so adeptly points out: "such is the life of an adventurer."
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Top Customer Reviews
This book was my first introduction to the cartoon work of Luke Pearson, a relative newcomer to the comics scene who is based in, (and very popular in), the U.K. My initial impression was that the book reflected a strong Scandinavian influence and that it was very reminiscent of the Moomin stories of Tove Jansson. Looking into the matter a bit more deeply, I found a 2013 interview with Pearson in which he stated that he drew heavily on Icelandic and Norwegian folklore for the Hilda comics. Further, he identified Jansson as a big influence on him as a cartoonist, an illustrator and a writer, and he acknowledged that Hilda was designed "very self consciously" on the Moomin character "Little My". This is all fine by me, because Pearson takes the Scandinavian/Moomin vibe and does wonderful things with it, and I just felt as clever as all get out to have made the Moomin connection on my own.
So, what is it that commends this book? Start with the spread at the opening of the book that sets out a map of Hilda's world. Usually such things are pencil or ink sketches of some map that looks like it should have Mordor in the lower right corner. Not so here. The map of Hilda's world is so inviting, charming and interesting that I immediately wanted to visit this cozy, exciting, mysterious place. You could just look at the map and make up your own adventure stories.
But then you get to Hilda. She epitomizes spunk, energy, and an odd sort of dreamy/no-nonsense/adventuresomeness. She is not forced on a quest; rather, she seeks adventure and follows her curiosity. She is practical and yet given to whimsy. She can be very childish and yet react to situations in a calm and mature manner. She runs the gamut of young girl emotions and attitudes, and it is this quicksilver character that adds color and action to the story. Lots seems to be happening, even when not much is happening; (sitting in a tent in the rain is made exciting here). Conversely, when there is real excitement - the appearance of the wooden man, the appearance of the troll, giants - Hilda's calm reaction makes those events seem commonplace. But whatever is going on, it all has a real and honest sense of wonder to it.
All of this is enhanced by the drawing. Scenes are detailed, but not cluttered. It's always clear where Hilda is, what she's doing, and how she feels about it. Colors are muted, but the choices are often unexpected, and more effective as a consequence. There are sly little jokes and bits of business hidden around the edges of the panels, but the hallmark here is the balancing of clarity and expressiveness; this is, after all, primarily a book for kids and has to be accessible.
The upshot is that I enjoyed this book immensely and could see a wide range of young readers being drawn into its charms. This is a nice, slightly out of the main stream, find.
I'm pretty sure I have this history right. This book started out as "Hildafolk", and was very successful. It was reissued with the elegant NoBrow hardback treatment as "Hilda and the Troll". It has now been, or is being, reissued under the same title in paperback format. There seem to be some visual and length differences between "Hildafolk" and this edition, (I'm not sure but it looks that way), so just be careful if you are very particular about which edition it is, exactly, you want. I read the latest paperback issue and I was delighted with it, but I read it as an ebook ARC so I can't opine about the relative merits of the hardback or paperback versions.
(Please note that I received a free advance will-self-destruct-in-54-days Adobe ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)