Hilda and the Bird Parade by Luke PearsonHilda and the Bird Parade by Luke PearsonHilda 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.

Hilda and the Bird Parade by Luke PearsonClick to embiggen

Published in 2013. 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! Getting used to life in the big city is proving difficult for Hilda. The diminutive explorer is still missing the enchanted valleys and magical friends that surrounded her home in the fjords. But tonight is somehow different; tonight is the night of the mysterious Bird Parade. Finding herself lost on the streets of Trolberg, Hilda befriends a talking raven. Together they encounter all manner of bizarre creatures from outcast Trolls to ferocious Salt Lions and deadly Rat Kings—maybe the city isn’t so boring after all. As the pair try to find their way home, it becomes clear that the amnesiac raven has an important mission to attend to . . . if only he could remember what it was.



  • Rebecca Fisher

    REBECCA FISHER, with us since January 2008, earned a Masters degree in literature at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her thesis included a comparison of how C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman each use the idea of mankind’s Fall from Grace to structure the worldviews presented in their fantasy series. Rebecca is a firm believer that fantasy books written for children can be just as meaningful, well-written and enjoyable as those for adults, and in some cases, even more so. Rebecca lives in New Zealand. She is the winner of the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SFF Fan Writer.