Hilda and the Stone Forest by Luke Pearson
Hilda series, bk. 5. Flying Eye Books, 2016. ISBN
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Luke Pearson's fantasy adventure series stars Hilda the lively, blue-haired young girl, her pet deerfox Twig and Tontu a house spirit who can walk through walls. In Hilda and the Stone Forest she is swept up into the magical adventures of her house spirit's world, chasing little nisse-sprites through the forest of trolls. Hilda's mother becomes worried at her disappearances and her dishevelled appearances and suspects her daughter is lying. Sent to her room as a punishment, Hilda sneaks out of her window to take an enchanting flight on the back of the magic raven with her friend Frida. Grounded, for three days, Hilda watches the world from her bedroom window as the troll fires burn on the mountain.
While trying to stop Hilda from escaping through the wall with Tontu, mother, daughter and Twig fly through the air and land in the strange, shadowy forest of the trolls. Their journey takes them deep into the mountain inhabited by trolls, where they learn to rely on each other's abilities. Fantastical creatures, trolls with two heads, a baby troll, worms with giant teeth and threatening landscapes with rock falls, dead ends and dark caves prove dangerous for Hilda and her mother. With the help of Twig and surprising assistance from an unexpected character, they finally return to the safety of their home in Trolberg.
Pearson's graphic novels are dynamic and fast-paced with his creative illustrations displaying his understanding of connectivity to space, time and movement. There is an energy created by images that wrap around, with the unexpected placement of action panels and diagonal lines, which burst across the page pushing the action forward. The characters move across, up, down, defy gravity and burst out from the scenes with minimal speech bubbles; the reader is immersed in the drama. Pearson's use of a muted palette is visually engaging with swathes of colours, greys, reds, earth tones, leaf greens, colouring the characters and their backgrounds.
Hilda and the Stone Forest ends with the assurance of more magical stories to come.