Page 45 Review by Stephen
Magical, exquisitely coloured, and so beautiful to behold, the third of the four all-ages HILDA graphic novels is now available in softcover.
Young school girl Hilda lives with her mother, a professional artist, out in the wilds of the most majestic countryside with mountains that rise into the crystal-blue skies, their snow-capped peaks enticing you ever upwards to explore!
They're populated with fantastical creatures which Hilda loves to dash out to document and draw! Armed with a rucksack full of pens, pencils, paper and nature books, Hilda could spend an entire day
sitting bored indoors, looking mournfully out of her bedroom window onto the deadly-dull streets of a city suburb she is forbidden to set foot in. Oh dear. They've moved.
To her mother's mind these city streets are infinitely more dangerous than the troll-troubled hills they once frequented. With no discernible vantage points you could get so easily lost in the maze of seemingly homogenous house fronts, and then there are the people. People ain't no good. Anything could happen to a young girl, out on her own
Bravely Luke Pearson has set his series on a brand-new course and brilliantly he's played to his loyal readers' fears. The school children who entice Hilda out know all the cool places, but they are very far from cool. They ring on doorbells and then run away, goading their potentially impressionable new friend to do the same. She doesn't, for Hilda knows her own mind (thank you very much indeed!) and so stops to chat to the old lady she's just called upon and takes time to compliment her window box of flowers. And then, just when you think Hilda's winning, and beginning to bring them round in their search for the best and shiniest of rocks, there is a moment of awful brutality that had my jaw on the floor. Also: she does get lost.
But oh, Luke Pearson, how well you know your craft! One of his finest skills is the ability to surprise - to make you gasp - and everything you have read so far is designed to do precisely that. Who am I to spoil that pleasure?
There will be wonder aplenty, discoveries made from true discernment, and a heart-racing climax to get to the annual Bird Parade on time! Then the colours will morph out of all recognition and you will know the glow of an evening on fire. It's so lambent, so eye-poppingly awesome, with exotic forms that fill every inch of each page.
I love Hilda's mouth when she goes "Oooh!" I'm making that face as I type: a projection to a small, rounded mouth to one side that lets out a well-rounded "Oooh!" It's infectious - the sort of art that encourages you to enact what's happening and so makes for the very best bed-time reading.
Coming shortly in 2016: HILDA AND STONE FOREST!