Willow loves to be out in nature, especially in the woods behind her house. This is where she finds herself after an episode of anger directed at her big sister. While wandering, trying to contain her little monsters of emotion, she runs into Pilu, who has also run away from home, and isn't sure she wants to go back. With some careful questioning, Willow discovers Pilu is actually a tree spirit, and she lives in the magnolia grove that was so special to Willow and her mother. Willow decides it's better for both of them to go home, so she agrees to lead Pilu back to the grove. While journeying, a terrible storm rages, and Willow loses control of her little monsters and has to exert a control over them she never knew she had in order to save herself and her new friend.
My favorite thing about this story is the illustrations. Everything is so softly colored and lush that it makes me want to walk around in a forest and enjoy nature. This story is a really powerful emotional journey for Willow as she wrestles with some deep feelings. She is struggling with grief and anger over her mother's absence (it's not clear whether the mother has died or left). She's also struggling with her older sister in a parental role and resenting her sister for having to fill this void. Willow discovers through her friendship with Pilu that her actions have consequences for those she love. Pilu acts selfishly when she leaves the grove, similarly to Willow as she ran away, and Pilu makes a great mirror for Willow to discover how her actions affect those around her. Everything in this story is illustrated cutely and with lots of pastel colors. The storm scene with the explosion of Willow's little monsters could be a bit scary for younger readers, but the illustrations are full of pastel with a ew darker notes, and the little monsters are still cute even when they're mad that the effect should be minimal.
Sara's Rating: 9/10
Suitability Level: Grades 4-7
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: April 17, 2019
ISBN: 9781620105634 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 9/10, Suitability: Elementary School, Suitability: Middle School, Graphic Fiction, Family, Grief, CSLA 2021
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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