Willow finds her way


Written and illustrated by Mai K. Nguyen (Portland, Ore.: Oni Press, 2019, 160 pp., $12.99, paperback)

“Pilu of the Woods” is a charming book featuring both a profound message that children will be able to resonate with, and simplistic yet colorful visuals. The plot mostly follows the actions of a girl named Willow following a family tragedy. Willow struggles to maintain her emotions, resulting in her running away into a forest.

In the woods, she encounters Pilu, a flower spirit who also ran away from home. Together, the two journey home and confront their own negative emotions.

The message is that emotions like sadness and anger are a part of you. Ignoring these emotions doesn’t mean that they go away, it means that they build up. It’s a valuable lesson for kids, especially for those going through something such as a parent’s divorce.

The ending is emotionally satisfying, and feels as complete as a graphic novel can be. Illustration-wise, the colors complement the story beats. For instance, in one scene, the artist uses dark and ominous colors that creates a more intense tone. Then, in another part of the book, the author-illustrator Mai K. Nguyen uses bright shades that pair with the character’s cheerful mood.

In summary, “Pilu of the Woods” has a cute story, pleasant visual pairing, and an important lesson for children. It emanates genuine heart from start to finish.

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