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. Hilda and the Troll by Luke Pearson is the original in the Hildafolk comic series, and it has recently been reprinted in a new hardcover book format. Though I was never much of a comic book reader as a child myself, I have three children who all enjoy the format, and this book has been a hit with them all, from the 6 year old to the 13 year old!
Add my fandom to the mix, too, for I was pleasantly surprised by not only the presentation but also by the delightful character of Hilda. From the opening panels, it’s made clear that she is a “doing” kind of kid. When she hears a weather forecast for heavy rains overnight (on an old-timey radio, no less!), her immediate reaction is to ask her mother permission to sleep in the tent outside. Anyone who has ever camped in the rain will understand Hilda’s appreciation of her coziness in the tent as the rain taps on the canvas walls.
Reinforcing Hilda’s “free-range kid” status even more, the next morning she informs her mom that she’s going to “head up the hill for the day to do some drawing,” and her mother’s reaction is encouraging and supportive. Adventure time! With her trusted blue-furred pet by her side (is it a fox with antlers? a baby reindeer with a bushy tail?), Hilda grabs her sketchpad and goes exploring. Soon enough she comes upon a troll rock- a creature she was just reading about the day before. But she falls asleep after an afternoon of sketching, only to awaken to an empty spot where the troll rock had been before. When she hears the ringing of the bell she placed on the troll rock’s extra-long nose, she and her animal pal take off into the woods. Hilda can even view getting lost in a positive way:
“Well, I’m pretty sure that troll isn’t finding us. But, we are in a big scary forest… we’re lost… and probably surrounded by all manner of weird creatures. Kind of cool huh?”
I’ll leave it to you to find out how Hilda’s adventure turns out– the troll rock’s return, a close call with a giant (who has one mild bit of cursing with a “damn it” uttered upon being lost himself) and multiple interactions with a strange but kind-hearted wood man. I do know that my kids and I will be getting our hands on more of Hilda’s books because she is exactly the kind of character I want my kids to read about in a comic book!