What books will you be gifting this Christmas?
One that I’m giving to my girls (please don’t tell them!) will be the 3rd comic book in a series about the life and adventures of a curious, bright and brave blue-haired young girl called Hilda: Hilda and the Bird Parade by Luke Pearson.
Hilda walked into our lives with Hilda and the Troll (an earlier edition of this book was published a few years back under the title ‘Hildafolk’ and whilst this new edition is slightly expanded it is essentially the same book) and then became a firm friend of the family in Hilda and the Midnight Giant.
These Hilda stories are funny, intelligent, slightly eccentric and full of magic. Not only are the stories so special, the physical books are delights; gorgeously bound hardbacks full of muted earthy tones and printed on lovely thick paper.
Hilda has a delightful spirit of adventure (for example, she decides to sleep outside in a tent precisely because rain is forecast), she’s forever reading and drawing, and lives half way up a mountain in a log cabin with her mother. Sprites and Elves are never far away and the friction between Hilda’s world and theirs is the source of the tales told in these two tomes.
Whether she is on the look out for trolls, trying to make peace with invisible tiny folk or uncovering long-lost giants, Hilda has an warm-hearted appetite for life and exploration. Humour as well as brief moments of terror (the delicious variety rather than truly menacing) give the stories great pace and rhythm; these truly are tremendous books which will be enjoyed as much by grownups as by children.
Inspired by these two lovely Hilda books I’ve been preparing a couple of additions to put in the Christmas package which will contain Hilda and the Bird Parade. In Hilda and the Troll our heroine climbs up her mountain to draw in her notebook (“Okay Sweetie. Be back for dinner. And draw me something nice!” “I’m drawing rocks!“) and so I’ve made some blank books ready to be transformed into comic strips (or used however the girls wish).
I created several empty comic strip templates i.e. pages with different shaped boxes (you can download and print spreads 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 if you’d like to make your own books), folded them in half and then stapled them into card covers, with a little bit of cotton bias to jazz up the spine (in homage to the beautiful spines on the Hilda books) and to cover the staples. I can’t wait to see how these blank canvases get transformed!
In Hilda and the Midnight Giant it turns out that Hilda and her mother are living slap bang in the middle of a settlement of tiny hidden folk. We’ve all rather fallen in love with the idea that there are invisible little people living all around us, so I’ve also been beavering away making a village of miniature houses which are magically going to pop up on our driveway on Christmas Eve. They’re made out of air-drying clay and here they are drying out:
And here’s a dry run for what I hope it will look like on Christmas Eve. I’ve put cake candles inside to light them up, mirroring the front cover of Hilda and the Midnight Giant.
I really hope this will spark the girls’ imaginations and get them wanting to write and draw stories about the little folk who live near us!
Music to draw comics by includes:
Other activities which would be fun to get up to alongside reading the Hilda comics include:
Other books I’m gifting this Christmas include The Faiytale Hairdesser (or How Rupunzel got her Prince), the Gum Girl books, and several from the Newspaper Histories series. What books are you gifting this Christmas?
Disclosure: I was sent free review copies of Hilda and the Troll, and Hilda and the Midnight Giant by the publisher.