I picked up Pilu of the Woods, a children’s comic by Mai K. Nguyen, on a whim while browsing through my local comic book store. I immediately fell in love with the adorable art and promptly handed the cashier my money so I could take the book home with me. Upon reading it, I found it to be precisely what I hoped for: a sweet and delightful tale, with a solid emotional core.
Pilu of the Woods tells the story of Willow; a young girl who is dealing with the recent death of her mother and struggling with controlling her turbulent emotions. After getting into a fight with her older sister, Willow runs away into the woods. There, she meets Pilu, a young tree sprite who has gotten lost and needs help finding her way home. Willow offers her assistance and the two girls become fast friends, but Pilu has conflicted feelings about returning to her family and Willow’s attempts to suppress her emotions have caused them to take on physical form! Willow will have to finally confront the feelings she’s been suppressing if she and Pilu are both going to make it home safe.
Willow’s journey, as she comes to better understand her emotions and find healthier ways to cope with and express them, is touching. She’s a very relatable character; someone who may stumble, but who is trying her best and remains likeable, despite her flaws. The little tree nymph, Pilu acts as a good foil to Willow and I liked seeing these two characters learn from each other and grow closer as friends. The most poignant part for me, however, was when we are shown that Willow’s older sister is struggling with her own feelings of inadequacy and loss. The author even gives her a line of dialogue that mirrors something Willow had said earlier, in order to drive home that she is just as shaken by their mother’s passing. Everyone processes grief differently, and, as someone who recently lost their own mother, this little reminder that everyone is just muddling through the process as best they can, was very impactful. I confess that I might have cried a little.
This is a lovely looking book. Little details in the backgrounds, like the moss and fungus growing on the trees, bring the forest setting to life, and the soft, earthy colour palette gives the book a warm and comforting feel that perfectly suits the story. Plus everything just looks so cute!
The book closes with a nature journal section, where you can write observations on plants and animals, just like the main characters does in the comic. This is followed by a delicious-looking recipe for mushroom rice, which is a dish referenced by several characters in the story. These are both fun little touches and I might actually try cooking that rice recipe sometime.
Pilu of the Woods is a book that deals with weighty subjects with warmth and charm. A perfect read for children, and with plenty to recommend it to adults as well.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10.
You can find out more about Pilu of the Woods at the Oni Press website: https://onipress.com/collections/graphic-novels-for-middle-readers/products/pilu-of-the-woods?variant=20590750761071
What did you think of this comic? Did anyone else cry while reading it? Let me know in the comments!
Also, check out some of my other All-Ages Comics reviews:
- Hex Vet Vol 1 & 2 Review
- Avatar the Last Airbender: Team Avatar Tales Review
- Extraordinary: A Story of an Ordinary Princess Review
- Rainbow Brite Vol 1 Review
- Nightlights Series Review (Nightlights & Hicotea)
- Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant Review
- Newsprints Review