Hilda and the Bird Parade: high adventure kids' comic in the style of Miyazaki & Jansson

As I mentioned last week, the big news in our household is that Nowbrow press and Luke Pearson have released a new Hilda book, Hilda and the Bird Parade. I couldn't wait to get home and read this with my four-and-a-half year old daughter, who loved the earlier Hilda books when we read them together last January.

Now that I'm back from my tour, I've kid-tested Bird Parade and I'm glad to report that the book is ever bit the triumph that the earlier volume was. The blended styles of Tove Jansson (Moomins) and Hayao Miyazaki (Kiki's Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro) are still prominent, but in Bird Parade, we're treated to a more urban setting, as Pearson delves into Hilda's backstory -- the circumstances that led to her family's move to the enchanted valley where the first books are set.

In Bird Parade, we follow Hilda on a day's adventures after a move to the big city of Trolberg, situated right in the middle of Troll Valley. It's the weekend, and her mother doesn't want her to go out and play on her own, but she relents when some of the neighbourhood kids come around and invite Hilda out for a playdate. But Hilda quickly finds that the kids' play is too rough and even cruel for her taste, and the final straw is when they throw stones at som roosting birds and knock one out of the tree, injuring it. Hilda goes to tend to the bird, and her erstwhile friends run off.

It turns out that the bird can talk -- and that it has amnesia. The injury has left it flightless and disoriented, not to mention crabby. Hilda resolves to take it home -- and that's when she realizes that without the bad neighbourhood kids, she doesn't know where home is. Lost, she and the bird must roam the streets, trying to find her increasingly distraught mother.

The storyline of Bird Parade is in some ways simpler than Midnight Giant, but the mystery at its core is no less satisfying, and while the dreamlike interludes from the earlier volumes are less present in this one, there's a heightened tension as Hilda lives through one of the great childhood traumas -- lost and alone, far from home -- and discovers the underlying truth of both Trolberg and her relationship with her mother.

As with all the Nobrow titles, this is a beautifully made book, and as with all of Pearson's work, it is a beautifully told story. It's for sale right away in the UK, and the US and Canadian distributors will have it next March (impatient trans-Atlantic types can order it right now from Nobrow -- it really is a perfect Christmas gift for a comic-loving kid in your orbit).

Hilda and the Bird Parade


  1. Cory,

    If you are looking for cool kid’s books try”
    “Else-Marie and Her Seven Little Daddies”

    I discovered it when I was working in a children’s bookstore many years ago. I was already a fan of Charbonnet’s “Boodil, My Dog” about a little girl and her demented bull terrier (Well, aren’t they all?). But this book was wondrous strange. So Heather has two mommies, eh? Pfffft. Try seven daddies, especially when those daddies are each about a foot tall. It’s a terrific book. You’ll have to turn up a copy secondhand, but it is sooooo worth it.

    Other obscure out-of-print gems include “The Rinky Dink Cafe” which is a hilarious read aloud with plenty of slapstick and bouncing rhymes and an opportunity for the reader to experience their inner Mel Blanc. And it’s a Thanksgiving story! Margaret Mahy’s “17 Kings and 42 Elephants” reads like a fantastic drum concert, if you and your daughter enjoy that kind of book. We sure did. And we like sailing ships and pirates, so we were suckers for Richard Adam’s “The Ship’s Cat” which is also in verse. 

    Don’t neglect Beatrix Potter and don’t settle for any reinterpretations. You want the originals, they are BRILLIANT. When my son was your daughter’s age, his favorite was “The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher”, the last line of which never failed to make him break into a belly laugh. I was partial to “The Roly Poly Pudding” which never failed to make me break into a belly laugh.

    If you want a great message and wonderful illustrations with lush Thiebaudesque California light and color, try to find a copy of “The Araboolies of Liberty Street.” And I was quite taken with the illustrations in “No Star Nights” which was about growing up in a steel mill town. We LOVED kid’s books. 

    Ah, kids’ books… there are so many wonderful ones.

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