Friday 3 May 2013

ReaditDaddy's Book of the Week Part 2 - Week Ending 3rd May 2013 - "Hildafolk" by Luke Pearson (NoBrow Press)

Here's Part Two of this week's "Book of the Week" double header. Now you can see why it was so very tough to choose between two utterly superb comics that have rarely strayed from our reading pile this week (when a book is demanded morning, noon and night - and quite often at all the moments in between, you know it's struck a chord!)

I've had my eye on the Hilda books for a long time. Luke Pearson's visual style and storytelling have always intrigued and interested me so we took the plunge and picked up "Hildafolk" as a bit of a taster to getting the rest of the Hilda books. We've seen many recommendations and euphoric tweets about Pearson's meisterworks so we wanted to find out if all the fuss was justified.

It is - and then some.

If you were brought up on cool surreal stuff like "The Moomins" or you've ever had any love for folk tales (particularly Nordic ones) you'll instantly love Hilda to bits. She's a plucky little girl with blue hair and a pointy nose. She's got the coolest pet called Twig. But best of all she seeks out and befriends Trolls!

One night after camping out in a Rainstorm, Hilda wakes to find that a Troll Rock is quite close to home. Tying a bell to its 'nose' (just in case it moves, of course), Hilda sets out with her sketchbook to sketch the Troll Rock and catalogue her discoveries.

As she settles down in her own bed for the night, she's woken by something extremely disturbing. A tiny tinkling of a bell...

Just what is going on, and who is the mysterious Wood Man who keeps coming into the house to lie in front of the fire?

There's just the right balance of brilliant characters. Charlotte absolutely adores the brave and adventure-seeking Hilda but secretly I think she loves Wood Man more (as do I!) Luke Pearson manages to delicately flavour the story with just enough spookiness to keep children enthralled without scaring them, and a whole ton of interest. Experiencing Hildafolk for us was exquisite torture because it is fairly short, but like eating the tiniest morsel of the most delicious strong cheddar, it has you craving more as soon as you reach the last page.

We're in danger of wearing our copy of Hildafolk out - and will be picking up "Hilda and the Bird Parade" and "Hilda and the Midnight Giant" as quickly as we possibly can. Hilda is, without doubt, the sort of comicbook hero that (along with Gum Girl) Charlotte can wholly embrace as being someone who speaks to her in her own language and appeals to her curiosity and sense of excitement for dark and mysterious comic worlds. Utterly, utterly, utterly brilliant and we cannot wait for more. NoBrow seem to be publishing some of the most exciting titles on the market at the moment and we'll be hoovering up as many as we can!

Charlotte's best bit: She cackles with laughter at Wood Man's antics. I really struggled to find the right voice to read his dialogue in (I opted for a slightly reedy and uber plummy accent but also tried him out with a sort of scritchy-scratchy 'raggety' voice too). She loves Hilda very much too.

Daddy's favourite bit: In all honesty I thought that "Hildafolk" would win our book of the week outright, as it's really been in demand but Gum Girl has too. I utterly drank in Luke Pearson's work like the most glorious draft of some fabulous elixir. Addictive, darkly tinged but not scary, with one of the best set of characters I've seen in a comic for a very long time. WE WANT MORE!!!