Hilda and the Bird Parade by Luke Pearson
The third book in the HILDA series by Luke Pearson sees our blue-haired adventurer in quite different surroundings. After the events of Hilda and the Midnight Giant, Hilda and her mother have moved to the city, far away from the open spaces of the countryside and the multitude of magical creatures that live there.
Still, Hilda is trying to make the best of it, even if her mother is far more nervous about her roaming the city by herself than she was the country. But when some friends from school unexpectedly turn up at her door, Hilda is allowed to accompany them as they show her the sights of the neighbourhood.
Pearson writes with nuance: you’d expect the school children to turn out to be bullies, but they’re helpful and friendly, despite being profoundly different from the introspective, compassionate Hilda. One of the games they introduce to her is throwing rocks at a flock of birds, and when one of them is injured, Hilda leaves the safety of the group to tend to the amnesiac bird — who knows nothing about himself except that he was going somewhere important.
Soon Hilda is lost and her mother is going out of her mind with worry. Can they find each other at the bird parade taking place that night?
There are more mythological creatures to discover here, even though this is no longer the vast Scandinavian-inspired countryside. Instead the story takes place in a quaint little town, and I appreciated that although Pearson could have easily depicted it as a dangerous and unpleasant place, it’s filled with its own wonders — and Hilda is eager to experience them.
Hilda and the Bird Parade (2013) is a bit more suspenseful than the previous two instalments, focusing as it does on a lost child and her worried mother, and I noticed that the artwork has changed too — most obviously in Hilda’s design, whose nose is no longer a sharp triangle, but which has a rounded tip. From what I can tell, this is the design used in all the following books, as well as the Netflix animated adaptation.
There are all kinds of lovely and mysterious details to appreciate, like how the bird gradually grows in size as the parade draws closer, and fun little call-backs — Hilda is initially bemused as to why her classmates show her a wall, but it comes in pretty handy when getting the best view of the parade!
These are beautiful books, dealing with real issues in an immensely imaginative setting: the vibrant young protagonist, the vivid world-building, the thought-provoking questions and challenges that they raise… it’s no surprise that they’re so popular.
Are they children’s books?
Zina, yes, marketed for grades 3 to 7.
A New York Times’ Notable Book for 2013
One of School Library Journal’s Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2013
Nominated for the 2014 Eisner for Best Publication for Kids
I think I’ll read the first one. I’d like to know more about writing for children and mythology is always good. =)