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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Hilda and the Black Hound, written and illustrated by Luke Pearson. Flying Eye Books, 2014. $33.95 ages 8 and up

"Aren't any of you worried about being out here with that thing running around?"
"My dad says it's probably just a lost mountain spirit."
"My brother says it's a demon and it only eats girls."
"I understand your concerns but there's really no reason to worry. We're inside the town walls and on private Sparrow Property .. "

I have told you about the other books in this wonderful Hildafolk series. This one will only up the admiration that Luke Pearson has already garnered with his fans. The books don't need to be read as a package; each is a wonderful standalone tale of a young, brave, adventurous girl. 

This time, Hilda is pleased to be joining the Sparrow Scouts. While out with her mother running errands, Hilda takes note of a tiny creature sitting on the sidewalk. Since she is tasked with doing one good thing, she wonders if she might do something for the poor wee thing. Her mother has a very negative reaction to the 'house spirit', letting Hilda know that they are meant to reside invisibly inside homes. If this one is outside, the fact is that it has been banished from its home. Mom is convinced that the 'nisse' is bent on doing bad things, and misleading anyone who thinks to help them.

Three stories play out here: time spent learning all the skills of a Sparrow Scout while trying to earn one more badge than her very competent and competitive mother did, the threat that is the Black Beast of Trolberg, and providing friendship to a wrongly accused and banished house spirit. Together, they provide a great deal of fun, and some worry for a young girl bent on exploration while also doing the right thing.

Her concern is for her new friend, and others of his ilk, who have recently been banished from their houses under similar circumstances and are struggling to live outside their comfort zones - literally. Hilda's world is magical and quite charming. Although she seems intent on earning the badges required of her Sparrow Scouts membership, she is easily distracted from the work in response to the wonder that surrounds her.

This is another great read, and sure to appeal to those who have read Hilda's previous exploits. They will be caught up in the fast pace, the discovery of the Beast's lair, and the realization that the mayhem is created out of loneliness and a need for companionship. The action is easy to follow because Luke Pearson does such a commendable job of making this long and satisfying tale so completely memorable and perfect for his intended audience. I assure you that if this is your first time meeting Hilda, you will not want it to be your last. She is a force!

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