By Maureen Tai, 12 November 2018
“Such is the life of an adventurer.” – Hilda
I am proud to say that I discovered Hilda in her original comic form a few years before she became a Netflix phenomenon. Was it her blue hair, blowing freely in the breeze or her wide round eyes that appealed to me? Or was it the quirky creatures of her world: the creature made of wood with its round bald head completely separated from its tree-stump-like body? the snowy white fox with tiny antlers? the gigantic stone troll with its gaping toothy maw? Or was it the feel of the comic book, its surprising lightness and pages reminiscent of construction paper?
Whatever the reason, we’re Hilda fans, and we’re positive she’ll become a favourite of anyone with a smidgen of adventure in them.
Hilda lives in the wilderness with her mother and her pet fox, Twig. Their cosy wooden cabin is literally in the middle of a vast green space called “The Wilderness,” at the foot of snow-capped mountains and near “The Great Forest” in which dwell extremely large, somewhat furry and relatively relaxed looking giants. The nearest town of Trolberg is so far away that it doesn’t fit on the map, so we only know its general direction by an arrow that points “This Way.”
Hilda loves to read (but as you’ll find out in Hilda and the Troll, not very carefully) and she’s always up for an adventure. In fact, she is ecstatic when she hears on the radio that they are forecasting heavy rain. That alone is reason enough to sleep outdoors in a small canvas tent. Despite the trauma of it all, no sooner has Hilda recovered from the lack of sleep, she is off again, into the wilderness with Twig to find rocks to draw. Hilda’s mum who appears to be some sort of graphic designer or artist, is refreshingly hands-off and trusting of her child. Her only instructions: return in time for dinner with some splendid new drawings.
Off Hilda trots in her Ugg-like red boots, her camel scarf wound round her neck and her black beret jauntily perched on the top of her teal-coloured head of hair. She has a notebook, a pencil, her trusty pet and unfettered boundless nature around her to explore with not another human being in sight. What a delight! It is a childhood that many of a prior generation may have actually experienced but which is rare in today’s technology- addicted, crowded and increasingly interconnected world.
Hilda is completely comfortable and confident in her world that at first blush seems so very different from reality. But our worlds aren’t that dissimilar. There is the familiar and the new, the wonderful and the scary, the unusual and the accepted normal. There is family and friends, and friendship and love. And there are the trolls.
No child’s book is complete without menace of some kind. In the lush green meadows, Hilda discovers a petrified stone troll, the type known to devour humans when they come alive in the dark of night. What makes our gutsy blue-haired heroine such an attractive character is that she approaches the situation – in fact, most precarious situations – with calm reasoning and logic.
And when she has to, she runs like the Dickens.
For ages 7 and up.