Page 45 Review by Stephen
Winner of the British Comics Award 2012 in the best Young Readers category as judged by Leeds schoolchildren, this is its first time in softcover.
Oh, the sheer wonder of it all! That's what you need to light up the eyes and fire up the minds of young readers: wonder, surprise and a protagonist o'er-brimming with an insatiable curiosity. Plucky young Hilda's is infectious!
Living out in the wilds in a craggy valley surrounded by mountains, Hilda and her mother have recently and quite unexpectedly come under siege from the Hidden People. They've never spotted one and have no idea where they live, but this is their sixth little letter this week! And, oh dear, it's yet another demand for mother and daughter to up sticks and leave the valley for good! But when Hilda posts a note of her own asking them to leave her alone, their home is bombarded by stones, their books seem to rip themselves to shreds and it's almost too much for Mum. Hilda, however, is undaunted. She's determined to discover who these tiny terrorists are, why they're so suddenly up in arms and see if she can't set things straight. Of course, there's also the question of the vast silhouette that has loomed into view. Bigger than the nearest mountain, its eerie black body blocks out the stars, its white eyes silently scanning the horizon as if in search of something
From the creator of SOME PEOPLE, EVERYTHING WE MISS, and the previous and subsequent HILDA books, this a breath-takingly beautiful book, its midnight blues as rich in colour as the daylight scenes. There's more than a dash of Jordan Crane's THE CLOUDS ABOVE to the floating Woofs migrating across the sky like fluffy, wide-eyed, long-tailed tadpoles, while the giant is pure Tom Gauld.
But there's one monumental page on which the Midnight Giant fills the frame from head to toe, bent on one knee whose composition - you may laugh - instantly reminded me of Bryan Hitch's Giant Man during his first growth spurt in ULTIMATES VOLUME ONE! The pink glow on the horizon is a golden touch.
There are some great gags that seem to spring spontaneously from the cartooning, while others are stored up for later with exquisite timing (you'll love the infestation of nittens!), plus a tea joke that's still making me smile three years later. Hilda herself is a model of inquisitiveness, resolve and resourcefulness, the plight of the Midnight Giant is truly touching, and adults will groan with recognition at the real reason behind the Hidden People's sudden animosity. Above all, though, it's the wonder of it all which will fill many a subsequent dream, so highly recommended to people of all sizes: no height restrictions at all.