Book Review: TROLL WOOD, by Kathryn Cave and Paul Hess

troll-woodTitle TROLL WOOD

Author Kathryn Cave

Illustrator Paul Hess

Publisher Frances Lincoln

Publication Date March 2013 [Hardback]

ISBN 9781847802385

In 1994 Kathryn Cave won the first ever UNESCO award for children’s literature in the service of tolerance. That book, Something Else, was illustrated by Chris Riddell. Her latest, Troll Wood, is a collaboration with Paul Hess, and what an amazing book it is.  This is a beguiling story that works on many levels.

First there’s the plot.  A family in need of a home chances upon a rusty gate and a KEEP OUT sign.  Beyond is a dark wood, Troll Wood, rumoured to be haunted by Trolls.  The family braves the dark and the sign, and deep in the wood comes across one surprise after another.  The braver the family members get, the more rewarding their discoveries. Until they come across the final prize….and what a prize it is, one they are willing to share.

We are not told what the family is fleeing from, or why.  In fact we are not told much about it but look at the pictures carefully and all sorts of telling details emerge.  Cave’s rhythmic text focuses on the present, on the adventure and boldness of discovery. It reads like a delicious playground rhyme, or a song a mother would make to take her children’s mind of the darkness and danger around them.

And then there are the trolls, waiting to be discovered in Paul Hess’ vibrant illustrations…..Will you spot them?

This is the sort of book I would have fallen in love with when I was a kid.  It’s got a great story, illustrations you’d want to pore over again and again and that edgy something else that will stay with you long after you’ve put the book back on the shelf.  A winner all round!

Other picture book reviews you might want to read:

The Cat And The Fiddle, a Treasury of Nursery Rhymes – by Jackie Morris

Great Joy – Kate DiCamillo

I Am Cat – by Jackie Morris

Katie and the Starry Night – by James Mayhew

The Magic Bojabi Tree – by Dianne Hofmeyr and Piet Grobel

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