In a never-a-dull moment third outing, blue-haired Hilda joins Sparrow Scouts, finds out where lost household items go and meets some of Trolberg’s supernatural residents.
As if sightings and news reports of a huge black beast in Trolberg aren’t troubling enough, an increasing number of nisses, helpful but sometimes-mischievous domestic sprites, are being ejected by human homeowners for supposed bad behavior. Meanwhile, Hilda’s patchy efforts to earn her camping and other scouting badges are derailed by her concern for the newly homeless nisses and other distractions. Finally, one befriended nisse shows her how to enter a special space that, being the sum total of all out-of-the-way and unreachable nooks, is cluttered with misplaced bric-a-brac—and that turns out to be where the “Beast,” who is just a lonely oversized dog, is lurking when it’s not barreling destructively through houses. Pearson puts a dozen or more cartoon panels on each page, but his art is so simply drawn that the action is always easy to follow. Also, he adds not just gnomic nisses, but other small creatures, natural or otherwise, to his scenes and places Hilda so that she’s always easy to spot. In the end, she both exonerates the nisses and saves the dog from hunters.
Though definitely an underachiever when it comes to merit badges, Hilda’s broad curiosity and willingness to stand up for the undergnome will make her a winner in most readers’ eyes. (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)