Pilu of the Woods
by Mai K. Nguyen
To be published on 16 April 2019
ARC provided by NetGalley
Children’s Graphic Novel
For fans of Hilda and the Troll comes PILU OF THE WOODS, a heartwarming and bittersweet story of friendship, loss, exploring complex emotions and finding your way home from debut creator Mai K. Nguyen.
Willow loves the woods near her house. They’re calm and quiet, so different from her own turbulent emotions, which she keeps locked away. When her emotions get the better of her one day, she decides to run away into the woods. There, she meets Pilu, a lost tree spirit who can’t find her way back home—which turns out to be the magnolia grove Willow’s mom used to take her to. Willow offers to help Pilu, and the two quickly become friends.
But the journey is long, and Pilu isn’t sure she’s ready to return home yet—which infuriates Willow, who’s determined to make up for her own mistakes by getting Pilu back safely. As a storm rages and Willow’s emotions bubble to the surface, they suddenly take on a physical form, putting both girls in danger… and forcing Willow to confront her inner feelings once and for all.
What do you get you take a little nature, a difficult promise, and a lot of heartache and stir it up? Pilu of the Woods.
Willow and her sister, Lin, promised their mother that they would be strong. No one could foresee the future and no one expected to have to be strong. For Lin, that meant taking their mother’s role, for Willow, that meant learning to listen.
Willow ran away from home after getting in trouble at school and saying mean things to her sister, who is dealing with her loss in a different way. While walking through the woods, Willow and Chicory, her dog, find another soul who feels unheard and unwanted. Pilu is magnolia sprite and lives in Willow’s mother’s favorite grove. Pilu is one of many children and ran away because she feels her mother does not want her around.
Together, they discover that nothing likes to be ignored…and that includes all the emotions that Willow has kept bottled up because she doesn’t like the way they make her feel.
This journey through grief, acceptance, understanding, and the power of family is a tearjerker to be sure. The wonderful artwork makes the story come to life. Nguyen touched all the right notes with this book. I especially loved how the sister’s fought and how easy it is to say mean things without really wanting to, or meaning to. The characters are very true to life.
Overall rating: ♥♥♥♥♥