Two young strangers discover nature as they help each other express and overcome their emotions.
After getting into a fight at school and then another with her sister, Willow storms off into the woods with Chicory, her dog. Trying to keep her feelings bottled up, she wanders the woods and listens to the calming sounds. She stumbles upon the lost and crying Pilu, a girl of the woods with leaves for hair. It seems Pilu is from the same magnolia tree grove that Willow’s recently deceased mother once took her to. Pilu doesn’t want to go home because she feels her mother doesn’t love her. Willow is still upset at her sister, especially when she acts like a mom. As the girls walk toward the grove, they slowly form a friendship and help each other confront their negative feelings and fears. In a deft touch, Willow’s emotions are depicted as little waterlike monsters that greatly exacerbate her anger, sadness, and self-doubt and that she tries to literally keep in jars. Nguyen has created a beautiful full-colored graphic novel, with bold colors, intricate linework, and deft shifts between reality and memory. Different typefaces are used to create nature’s sounds and movement, bringing the graphics to life. Her visual representation of hard-to-process events and feelings can help kids navigate their own emotions. Willow and Pilu both have pale skin; Willow’s hair is black, and Pilu’s is green.
A lovely graphic novel focusing on confronting our inner feelings and how we express them. (Graphic fantasy. 8-12)