A Children’s Story That Feels Like an Instant Classic

Reading between the lines.
April 5 2013 9:30 AM

Little Girl, Big City

A vibrant and whimsical all-ages adventure from an ambitious new cartoonist.

A panel from Luke Pearson's Hilda and The Bird Parade
A panel from Luke Pearson's Hilda and The Bird Parade

Illustration by Luke Pearson

1304_SBR_PEARSON_COVER

It’s not easy to create a great character for kids. For every Tintin, Ramona, or Matilda, there are dozens of failed franchises, aborted cartoon series, and unsold novels sitting in warehouses.

That’s why it’s so amazing that British cartoonist Luke Pearson has created, in blue-haired, intrepid Hilda, a character who feels instantly iconic. First introduced in 2010’s Hildafolk, she continued her adventures in the Scandinavian wilderness in 2012’s Hilda and the Midnight Giant, a nominee for Slate’s Cartoonist Studio Prize. Now she returns in the brand-new Hilda and the Bird Parade, out this month from Flying Eye Books.

Dan Kois Dan Kois

Dan Kois is Slate's culture editor and a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine.

Hilda and her mother have left the countryside for the big, dangerous city of Trolberg, and while Hilda wants to explore, her nervous mom wants her to stay put. Once Hilda finally does get out into the city, she realizes that the friends she’s made aren’t quite as nice as she thought they were. An encounter with an injured raven turns into a quest to discover Trolberg’s history—and for Hilda and her mom to find each other in the chaos of the town’s annual Bird Parade.

Hilda is kind and courteous, but also spirited and brave; she’s a heroine that young readers immediately relate to as she explores her new and intimidating environment. It’s easy to see kids devouring the three Hildafolk books—my kids certainly did—and waiting eagerly for more. For adults, though, Pearson’s measured storytelling (much slower paced than many American comics for kids) and detailed, imaginative artwork make Hilda and the Bird Parade an absolute treat to dive into. It’s hard to imagine a better all-ages comic will be published this year. We’re very proud to have Luke Pearson illustrating the April issue of the Slate Book Review.

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Hilda and the Bird Parade by Luke Pearson. Flying Eye Books.

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