Review by Woodrow Phoenix
The ‘Hildafolk’ series of books by Luke Pearson are all-ages adventures starring a small blue-haired little girl called Hilda, who lives in a cottage in the middle of the Scandinavian countryside with her mother. Hilda is a curious, adventurous kind of girl who likes nothing better than to be out exploring accompanied by her pet, Twig the ‘deerfox’ – a doglike creature who has antlers. Pearson took his inspiration for Hilda from Icelandic and Norwegian folklore, and his cartooning is charming and well-designed with echoes of the worlds of Japanese animator/director Hayao Miyazaki (My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away) and Finnish author Tove Jansson (Finn Family Moomintroll). His beautiful backdrop of trees, hills and sunlit countryside is populated by interesting, quirky creatures who represent the spirits of these places, and the resulting stories are enjoyable both for children and adults.
This special collector’s edition combines the first two Hilda adventures, Hilda and the Troll and Hilda and the Midnight Giant in one hardcover volume with a cloth spine. Along with the new cover there are some other extras: pages of sketches and roughs by Luke Pearson showing the evolution of some of the ideas and characters who feature, along with maps, pin-ups, unused pages and other interesting behind-the-scenes info that will intrigue anyone who enjoys this series. This ‘bind-up’ edition of Hilda stories is not especially cheaper than buying the two books separately, but all the extras make this something that fans will want to see.
There is a second collector’s edition contains Hilda’s next adventures, called Hilda: The Trolberg Stories because the third book begins with Hilda and her mother relocating from the countryside to a flat in the city of Trolberg. Once you’ve read the ending of Hilda and the Midnight Giant you will understand why they had to move, and the stories in that collection, Hilda and the Bird Parade and Hilda and the Black Hound both take place in or near the city.
Both the original series of Hilda books and the Netflix animated television shows have won awards, and either of these new collected editions are an ideal jumping-on point for new readers.