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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Hilda and the Bird Parade, by Luke Pearson. Flying Eye Books. 2013. $16.50 ages 8 and up

"I've forgotten how to FLY!
The HORROR ...
Leave me. I'm finished.
Done for.
for the cats.

Oh Dear
oh ... "

OOPS! I don't know how I missed telling you about this third Hilda book. If you have read the first two, Hildafolk (2010) and Hilda and the Midnight Giant (2012), you will know how much she loves the life that she lives in her beloved fjords. It is tough work acclimating to a new urban setting. Hilda misses the joyful independence of the time she spent exploring the natural environment that was her playground.

Now, she is living in Trolberg  and her spirit is sagging. Mom is frightened for her, and wants her to stay inside where she will be forever safe. Hilda's independent spirit is quashed by that constant concern. When friends from school show up wanting her to join them for a play, she is pleased and eager to get going. Her mom remains cautious, offering many warnings before she gets out the door.

Once outside, she discovers that her school friends are poor models for good behavior. She is an unhappy follower until they knock a raven from a tree with a well-thrown rock, leaving it to fend for itself. Hilda cannot leave it there. Her 'friends' rush away. Hilda is left to aid a talking raven who suffers amnesia after the rock-throwing incident. As it can no longer remember how to fly, Hilda and the raven begin the trek back to her house, encountering all manner of frightening creatures according to the raven.  Soon, they also realize that they are lost.

So begins an adventure that has them meeting a variety of peculiar creatures while the raven shares stories about Trolberg itself.  Dusk falls quickly and Hilda has not found her way home. She knows her mother will be worried. She's right. Her mom is frantic, finally sending their dog Twig to find Hilda and bring her home. Twig does his job, and leads the two to safety. Mom is not there.

The rest of the story centers on the Bird Parade and the legend of the raven it honors. Oh, and all is  well that ends well.

My admiration for Luke Pearson just grows. Hilda's new urban world is wonderfully drawn for his  enchanting female character and is sure to rouse admiration for her independent, sympathetic spirit. Hers are comic book stories that I would happily have shared with our kids when they were young, despite my constant refusal to read comics. The panels are engaging, often humorous and full of adventure. Perfect graphic storytelling!

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