They're child-friendly graphic novels that are totally fun and enjoyable for all ages, adults included. They hit the perfect sweetspot, and in such a wonderful way. They're filled with offbeat folklore and humor and also heart, and have been described as a meeting of Moomins and Miyazaki. Well, you kinda couldn't give me a better pitch than that! Moomins and Miyazaki??!!?? And it's true, but really Luke Pearson (writer-illustrator from Britain) totally has his own thing going here with these wonderful books, of which there are currently two, with another coming in April. (Can't wait!!)
First is Hildafolk, a short staple-bound (but still lovely edition, nice paper etc) intro to the character. (Though we discovered the second book first, and it doesn't make a huge difference, I'd read in order if I had the choice.)
Hildafolk introduces this young girl Hilda who lives in an isolated, enchanted valley with her mother. The strange beasties of the place are taken entirely in stride in a lovely melding of fantasy with the mundane. It's the kind of story that will get children looking at odd-shaped boulders as though they might indeed be trolls who need bells hung on their noses.
Hilda and the Midnight Giant is a longer book and it involves tiny invisible people, snippy eviction notices the size of a pinkie fingernail, and one mountain-high mysterious giant with a certain melancholic air to him. There's hitching rides on migrating airborne "wuffs" and visiting a wooden man in his treehouse, and dealing with elf bureaucracy. And oh, it is sweet, so sweet, such a satisfying story.
And this one's coming out soon, can't wait! Hilda and the Bird Parade:
Clementine loves them, and so do Jim and I. I'm such a fan of graphic novels for kids, and I wish there were more. Some of Clementine's consistent favorite reads have been the book adaptations of Miyazaki's more kid-friendly movies, and they're just really great immersive long reads for younger kids who may be on the verge of chapter book read-alouds but still want images. They're a great bridging of the gap between picture books and chapter books (and still great for chapter book readers and adults!!!). Beginning reader/I can read books tend to be too basic, you know (though will have their place when the time comes) and even the illustrated chapter books might not have enough art to satisfy. But graphic novels are ... well, they're a vastly undervalued art form in our country, and I encourage you all to delve into them a little. (I shall have to do a post at last on Jim's kid-in-candy-shop experience of graphic novels in France!)
Jim and I have a project we want to do, a graphic novel for young kids with a particular boy-friendly bent. (That said knowing that girls read anything and everything, but boys sometimes need boyish subject matter; this is great for both.) I've done a script, and Jim has sample art, and I really hope we'll be able to pursue it while Clementine is still little!
Oh, last thing, check out this lovely poster for Flying Eye Books, the new children's imprint of Nobrow Press, the UK-based publisher who does Hilda. Love it:
Cheers, and happy weekend!