Playing by the book

Reviews of kids' books and the crazy, fun stuff they inspire us to do

Meet Hilda: A comic book heroine full of kindness and curiosity

Posted on | December 16, 2013 | 15 Comments

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.

hildabooks

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.

midnightgiantreading

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!

notebooks1

notebooks2

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:

littlefolkhouses

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.

village1.jpg

village2.jpg

village3.jpg

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:

  • Comic Strip by Serge Gainsbourg, with a little bit of Brigitte Bardot thrown in for good measure. On YouTube here.
  • Comic Book Heroes by The Tearjerkers
  • Comic Book Shop by The Shazzbots (I also like this song from the Shazzbots – ‘Read a book’)
  • Comics by Amanda Lear (is there something about French musicians and comics?)


  • You might also like this list of hundreds of songs that mention comic book and strip characters from Comic Book Radio Show.

    Other activities which would be fun to get up to alongside reading the Hilda comics include:

  • Pretending to be Hilda by sleeping in a tent in your back garden, WHATEVER the weather!
  • Learning about trolls. You could explore ‘The Troll’ by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by David Roberts, ‘D’Aulaires’ Book Of Trolls’ by Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire, ‘Troll and the Oliver’ by Adam Stower (here’s our review).
  • Making friends with other miniature people. Of course there’s ‘The Borrowers’, but the ones who most frequently visit our homes are ‘The Beasties’, from the book by Jenny Nimmo, illustrated by Gwen Milward (here’s our review). M is also currently reading the Mrs Pepperpot stories and wishing she had the same shrinking power! Lily in Sam Gayton’s Lilliput is also a great small person to introduce to your kids.
  • Reading about giants. Some of my favourites are to be found in ‘The Last Giants’ By Francois Place (here’s my review), and I’d like to get my hands on ‘The Giant Book of Giants‘ by Saviour Pirotta and Mark Robertson. I’ve heard great things about ‘Giants Beware!’ by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado but have yet to read it myself.

  • 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.

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    Comments

    15 Responses to “Meet Hilda: A comic book heroine full of kindness and curiosity”

    1. Kelly
      December 16th, 2013 @ 12:45 am

      Thank you for the book recommendation and the fantastic downloads!

      Kelly

    2. Anamaria
      December 16th, 2013 @ 1:52 am

      Oh my goodness! Those little houses are brilliant. I rather like Hilda, too, and although my own children are not terribly fond of graphic novels, I may give this one another try. If only to have an excuse to make some houses!

      Ps. The Secret of the Twelfth Continent by Antonia Michaelis has little people in it, too–just to add to your list! And Toby Alone + sequel by Timothee de Fombelle.
      Anamaria recently posted..Lobel’s Lucia

    3. SIMONE FRASER
      December 16th, 2013 @ 1:58 am

      Zoe, the houses look exquisite. I assume you will post photos of the completed result, or at least I hope so. The ideas are as inspiring and joyful as always.

    4. Melissa @ Honey Bee Books
      December 16th, 2013 @ 2:41 am

      I love the idea of giving blank books and they look fabulous.
      Melissa @ Honey Bee Books recently posted..Bookish Christmas 15: The Polar Express

    5. Zoe
      December 16th, 2013 @ 7:23 am

      Hi Simone,

      I will try to post photos – something I learned from the dry run is that if there is any wind at all, the candle all go out before I can pick up my camera, so we’ll just have to see whether there is time for photos as well as just enjoying my girls’ reactions.

      Thanks Anamaria, I don’t know The Secret of the Twelfth Continent, but here’s what we did when we read Toby: http://www.playingbythebook.net/2012/04/16/the-past/ (at very bottom of the post). Both books are lovely and I’m really looking forward to reading his new one, Vango.

    6. Catherine
      December 16th, 2013 @ 8:37 am

      I love your little houses and how wonderful to have blank books to create your own stories :).

      This year my book giving list includes Rescue Princess books, The Day the Crayons Quit, Lift the Flap Atlas and several Usborne books.

      And I’ve asked for Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska!
      Catherine recently posted..Peck Peck Peck by Lucy Cousins

    7. Sam
      December 16th, 2013 @ 8:54 am

      I LOVE the houses! What a good idea! I must try to find some clay and have a go at that with Holly. The Hilda comics look lovely – Holly is not keen on comics though so I am unsure if I can persuade her. I think I will try though! ;-)
      Sam recently posted..What a wrap!

    8. Readitdaddy
      December 16th, 2013 @ 11:25 am

      We’ve loved the Hilda books this year (very rare for anyone to hit our Book of the Week slot three times in a row with something they’ve done but Luke Pearson managed it). This is fabulous, those houses are utterly wonderful!

      We have tried out the comic book templates thing before and it’s worked to brilliant effect. Children seem to be more able to effectively tell a story in comic panels than we adults can, definitely worth trying in classes if you’re a teacher interested in getting children taking the first steps in storytelling.

      Hilda rocks. We’d so have that Hilda vinyl figure if it wasn’t so crucifyingly expensive!
      Readitdaddy recently posted..What Does the Fox Say? By Ylvis and Svein Nyhus (Simon and Schuster Children’s Books)

    9. julie rowan zoch
      December 16th, 2013 @ 3:51 pm

      LOVE your wee village! I am still waiting for my library hold on this book!
      julie rowan zoch recently posted..2013 scbwi TdP-Award – process and entry

    10. Katherine
      December 16th, 2013 @ 10:38 pm

      I bought Jon Hilda and the a Midnight Folk last year but still haven’t read it myself, I’m inspired to with your little village, it’s beautiful. I must admit I prefer the title Hildafolk, don’t know why.

      We seem to be giving lots of cookery books this year. We have also given a child in Edinburgh a book via Blackwells Giving Tree, Jon chose a Neil Gaiman book.
      Katherine recently posted..Monday 16 December, 2013

    11. LH Johnson
      December 18th, 2013 @ 9:43 pm

      Gosh, I am in so much love with your model village. I want one! *plots*
      LH Johnson recently posted..Love in children’s literature : the pain, the glory, the wonder

    12. Jenni
      December 20th, 2013 @ 8:24 pm

      My kids are 3 and 4. Their favourite giant book is ‘Shhh!’ by Sally Grindley. It is such good fun to read aloud!

    13. Susan Stephenson
      December 25th, 2013 @ 5:53 am

      Not for the first time, Zoe, I find myself wishing I were a child who lived in your house. What a magical and creative place it must be! May you and yours have a wonderful Christmas.
      Susan Stephenson recently posted..Looking Back to October, November, December 2012

    14. Ninjacat
      December 27th, 2013 @ 4:44 pm

      I think the houses are fab !
      Ninjacat recently posted..Christmas It’s The Icing On The Cake

    15. Nell@PigeonPairandMe
      December 27th, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

      Forget the children – I’d love these Hilda books for MYSELF! Just discovered your blog through TOTS 100 – looking forward to coming back soon….
      Nell@PigeonPairandMe recently posted..A very Merry Christmas from the Pigeon Pair and Me!

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