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Hildafolk Paperback – November 14, 2010
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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
"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."
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Top Customer Reviews
Published by London's Nobrow Press, this slim comic introduces readers to an adventurous girl named Hilda, her antlered fox companion Twig, and some of their mountain home neighbors: the pesky Log Man, a mistakenly belled Rock Troll, a lost Giant, and a wayward Sea Spirit. It is utterly enchanting for all ages, and is perfect for young children who enjoy a little suspense and wonder in their adventure tales.
The artwork is lovely and accessible for young readers; adults will enjoy the design and nostalgic feel of the artwork. The gentle story-telling with smart, plucky, protagonists is reminiscent of films by Hayao Miyazaki("Kiki's Delivery Service," "My Neighbor Totoro").
My only complaint is that at 24 pages, "Hildafolk" was such a quick read. I want more, and so do my kids. Luckily, Pearson has already written another full-sized Hilda book called "Hilda and the Midnight Giant," and we expect our copy to show up on our doorstep soon.
The "Hildafolk" book will be widely available in the US come April 2012; for now you can get both books directly from Nobrow.
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, "Hildafolk", is the first Hilda book. It was reissued with the elegant NoBrow hardback treatment as "Hilda and the Troll". It has now been, or is being, reissued under the "Hilda and the Troll" 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 or the two differently title editions.
(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.)
Full disclosure - I am an adult with no kids. My husband and I love reading and re-reading this book though! Luke Pearson has a unique voice and has created a fun and quirky world for both kids and adults. The art is very detailed and rewards re-reading. Check out this book and if you like it, Pearson has written two more in the series for you to enjoy.
The art is the main attraction here. It is cute and imaginative. I felt like the style fit the character and would appeal to the target audience quite a bit.
There isn't much of a plot though. Hilda goes out to play and draw pictures, and ends up spending a little too much time away from home. There is a twist on the expected moral. The book will whet the appetite for more. Luckily, there are more Hilda stories out there to read.