Pilu of the Woods

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 27 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

This was such a sweet read. The artwork was amazing, the plot was heartwarming, and the characters were surprisingly well developed for such a quick read. There is not much that can be said without spoiling the story, but I will say that I quickly grew attached to Willow and her little monsters. Growing up is a struggle, but it is part of all of us and once we accept the crazy range of emotions that we experience, we are better able to manage them and accept them as part of being human.
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An enjoyable graphic novel that deals with nature, loss, and emotions that we don't necessarily mean to have but do any ways. Willow, after a fight with her sister runs into the woods where she meets a forest spirit Pilu. She's determined to help the spirit get home, but the two of them talk about emotions and "little monsters" that Willow thinks aren't real but end up being real in the end. This book is great at exploring the woods, about showing and educating the reader of different plants in a way that doesn't feel like learning. They talk about being angry, lonely, and other bad emotions, explaining it in a way that makes sense, making it into something real so that it's something you can face. 

The artwork was also beautifully done. And I love that the end of book has it's own nature journal for readers. It was a real joy to read.
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Oh my God! This book! So deep and emotional!

5 FULL STARS!

I would love to thank Mai K. Nguyen, Oni Press and NetGalley for this book in exchange for an honest review.

I totally recommend this graphic novel book!
The illustrations are perfect and the story is very heartwarming!
We see the story of Willow, a girl who struggles with her emotions (we can actually see them as little black monsters, which is really accurate and cool!) and she is running away from home after she's got into a fight with her big sister.

She's going into the woods where she finds Pilu, a lost tree spirit girl and they become good friends. Willow wants to help Pilu find her way home.

Along the way they encounter a few problems, but they manage to escape, while Willow learns how to befriend her emotions and we learn more about her.

The end is very satisfying and I loved it! I recommend this book for every person, no matter how old are you!
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Blogger at Momotips 

Thanks to Netgalley and Oni Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. It has not influenced my opinions.

Pilu of the Woods it’s a lovely comic created for children with a message in it. It talks about friendship and feelings, how to behave in difficult moments and what losing a person means, even more when you are just a child. The drawings are beautiful, and I particularly enjoyed the pastel colors. The story is really nice, and I loved how nature is presented. In this story Pilu is only one of the main characters, and her first meeting with Willow make both understand their mistakes. It is a wonderful story for children, who would easily relate to what happened in the story.
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This doesn't hit the emotional note it's trying to reach. But the illustrations are beautiful and it's always lovely to see children in nature in stories. Kids have been checking it out--in fact one just did minutes ago!
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Loved it! Beautiful illustration style and a lovely story - a really stunning magical graphic novel.

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this
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There’s nothing I don’t love about Pilu of the Woods. First, Mai K Nguyen’s art is completely adorable and a joy to look at. I took my time reading this book because I wanted to appreciate the artistry that went into it and if you consider yourself a lover of visual arts, this one’s for you.

Willow, our main character, often keeps her emotions bottled up. When she gets into an argument with her sister one day, Willow runs away from home and into the forest where she meets Pilu, a young, distraught tree spirit. Willow and the tree spirit have quite a few things in common: they both ran away from home after fighting with their family. Hearing Pilu’s story helps Willow reflect on her personal situation. As she comforts Pilu, Willow simultaneously sees her own struggles and actions in a new light.

“…but are you gonna just hide here until the bad things go away… all alone?”

Watching Willow and Pilu’s friendship develop in a short amount of time was so precious to me. I love how they connected with each other, and encouraged one another, all while having fun as kids exploring the forest.

I recommend Pilu of the Woods to readers of all ages. It’s a great reminder that it’s okay not to be okay, that just because we can’t see something, it doesn’t mean it’s not important. Willow struggled with what she called ‘angry little monsters’ in her head, and how she sometimes lets them take over and cause her to lash out at those she loves.

“They keep growing and growing while you’re not looking… they can make your mind all hot and foggy. And then… before you know it… the little monsters aren’t so little anymore. And the only way to make them go away is to say the worst things you never wanted to say.”

This wonderful story reminded me that everything leaves a mark: our words, our actions, our memories, and how we have to be careful not to let them hurt those around us. With Pilu’s help, Willow starts to realize that ignoring those ‘monsters’ isn’t the best way to deal with them and she has to face them head on… and listen.

We all need friends who help us be a bit braver and who’ll tell us it’s okay to cry sometimes, while holding our hand as we find our way back home. Pilu of the Woods is one of the most heartfelt and vulnerable stories I’ve ever read, and one I’m bound to read over and over again.
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I thought this was a cute graphic novel! I loved the art style, and the story was so sweet and had a beautiful meaning behind it. I loved the characters and I thought their story was amazing! I liked the idea behind Willow learning to control her feelings, and learning to handle them in a more positive way! She learns to deal with her monsters (emotions), after a big fight with her sister. This fight allowed her to meet Pilu, a forest spirit. I loved it and I loved their friendship. This novel may be middle grade. but it's definitely for everyone, and anymore can read it and learn from it as well.
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This graphic novel follows Willow who runs into the woods after a fight with her big sister, there she finds Pilu a tree spirit who has ran away from home and is now lost. Willow promises to help Pilu find her way back to her family and along the way Willow comes face to face with her inner feelings and must decide whether she will embrace them or run from them. This graphic novel does a beautiful job of portraying loss, grief and loneliness and I love the characters and the friendship that blooms between Willow and Pilu is so precious. The artwork in this is also gorgeous.

I gave this 4 out of 5 stars.
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I was utterly 3nchanted by the cover of this book, so I was already inclined to enjoy it going in. I needed it to be a good story. And it was. It's predictable, sure. But I liked the message. That the answer to anger and fear isn't to repress your emotions but  to acknowledge them, to evaluate and address, not to cover up. And even if the  actual plot leaves you cold, the art is so appealing I think I'd be entertained just flipping through it.
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I screamed with happiness when I saw that Pilu of the Woods had finally been listed on NetGalley.

& for all the wrong reasons.

Well, a lot of right reasons but one big wrong one.

Pillu is a very naughty word in Finnish and its one of the few words my FinFriends have taught me. So even though I knew this middle grade graphic novel would not be one of a naughty nature I still knew I needed to read it.

The right reasons for reading it were the art, the dog, and the leaves!

Yes as always here I go judging a graphic novel by its cover. Fight me. It usually works well.

It did this time too – spoilers: I rated it 5 stars.

This story follows Willow and Chicory the dog as they stomp off into the woods after a disagreement with their sister. Whilst simmering away in their negative feelings they hear someone else crying.

Luckily Chico is very good at breaking the ice and helping Willow and Pilu to become friends.

Pilu is sad after a fall out with her mother, and family, too and ended up getting lost in the woods.

Luckily Willow loves the woods and knows where Pilu lives – thanks to exploring them a lot with her mother. She also loves Pilu’s hair! That has leaves!

Guiding Pilu through the woods the two discuss their sad feelings and figuring out the best way to approach and deal with them.

Willow personifies and bottles up her “monsters” (bad feelings) causing them to engulf her and altering how she handles tough situations.

Her description (and visualisation) of negative feelings is very handy for the readers this story is aimed at, but also for older readers. It makes us reconnect with our feelings and be aware that bottling up bad things isn’t healthy or handy for us. The bottle is likely to get too full and burst! Englufing our lives and making things difficult.

Pilu is super helpful in guiding Willow on how she could approach her monsters better, learn to live with and listen to them, as what she is currently doing isn’t working.

As Pilu gets closer to home she has doubts about returning, concerned that her family might not even care she’s gone given her family is so large.

But Willow is able to share some sound advice to her which she’s learnt from her wise Mother. Willow reflecting on Pilu and her family also makes her come to terms with being a better sister.

Working together the three really help cheer each other up, come to terms with their mistakes, and become good friends.

I’d love to see the two in another story as I could definitely see these three (hi I didn’t forget the lovely Chico)  becoming part of a series for young readers and tackling real life issues in realistic ways with a little bit of magic.

Below is how Willow visualises her little monsters: [images]

This is a graphic novel that I truly adored and love to own and reread whenever I’m down as a nice reminder to tackle my little monsters when I have the strength.

I also think the art talks for itself – its beautiful! Very approachable for its target audience.

content warning for grief, parents death, and bullying.
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A middle grade graphic novel with a beautiful story and equally beautiful illustrations. I liked it so much.
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This was a lovely graphic novel which is a genre that is really selling well at this point so this will be easy to handsell.  It has a nice message about embracing your feelings and the graphics are so pretty.
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Pilu of the Woods is such an adorable little story! Today I posted my review on my blog (https://bookishr.wordpress.com/2019/04/27/pilu-of-the-woods/) and got to revisit all the feelings I felt for this book when I first picked it up. It's such a brilliant, tender, adorable middle grade novel!

Here are a few of the things I loved while reading Pilu of the Woods:

1. The illustrations — They are so beautifully done. The characters look absolutely perfect, with their large eyes and heads and small feet and hands. The palette is also stunning and fits perfectly with the mood of the story.

2. The pace — The story is incredibly well paced. It moves so fluidly and never bores you out or rushes anything important. It's really the perfect balance, which is hard to hit sometimes!

3. Mental health representation — Nguyen puts to paper Willow's negative thoughts so perfectly. The way she draws them is exactly how I have always imagined them, but have never seen them drawn out before. I love how the author wasn't afraid to make Willow, a young girl, struggle with these thoughts. It made the story so much more realistic and enjoyable, since Willow deals with them in a mature and elegant way!

4. Grief — It's not often that I see books portray grief this well. Seeing how Willow, her dad, and her sister are dealing with the recent absence of their mother/wife is so beautiful and heartbreaking. It changes family dynamics, of course, but it doesn't disappoint in the least.

This is such a sweet and tender book. It's a must-buy for every child who likes reading — and even those who haven't had the chance to fall in love with the world of books! Definitely get this one if you have a child dealing with the loss of a loved one in your life.
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This book offered exactly the quiet comfort nature does. It's one of the most beautiful (middlegrade) graphic novels I've ever read, because of its calm way of discussing some very heavy topics, like the loss of a parent, and feeling lonely and unwanted.

The art style is so beautiful, and I absolutely loved the soft, muted colours. This really matched and enhanced the story itself, just like the art work should in a graphic novel.

This is Nguyen's debut, and I'm very much looking forward to any graphic novels she might write next.

CWs: death of a parent, grief, bullying
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Content warnings: [bullying, grief (death of main character’s mother before the book began) )]

This is so gorgeous and adorable. It’s marketed as a middle-grade graphic novel, but I enjoyed it immensely and think the lesson would be applicable to and accessible to most ages.

After an argument with her older sister, Willow runs away into the woods where she meets a fellow runaway, a wood spirit named Pilu. While Willow is angry over her sister’s criticism, Pilu feels ignored by her mother, and believes that she won’t even miss her now that she’s run away. As Willow works to change Pilu’s mind and get her home, Pilu helps her rethink how she’s been dealing with her emotions after her mother’s death.


I found this a thoughtful and gentle exploration of what Willow calls her “angry little monsters” – thoughts and feelings that make you feel helpless and small. Willow promised her mother before she died that she’d be strong, and Willow’s taken that having to repress her grief and pain, to not cry. But bottling up her feelings doesn’t work, and just ends in her lashing out at her loved ones. Pilu tells Willow that “the more you ignore something, the louder it gets” – that nobody likes being ignored, and neither do feelings. I feel like anthropomorphizing each girl’s feelings into monsters helped take a difficult subject and make this age-appropriate (and frankly I found them adorable!). Sometimes, especially when dealing with things of this nature, books get very preachy, but I didn’t find that the case with this one. The message meshed nicely with the girls’ adventure.

The book’s title does have the word “woods” in it, so it’s no surprise that the outdoors is featured prominently. Most of the book is spent in the woods near her house, and it’s obvious that Willow (and the author) has a deep love of nature. On top of that, the art is absolutely gorgeous. This is seriously one of the most beautiful graphic novels I’ve ever read, and I frequently paused when reading to just take in a panel. The colors are deep and perfectly matched, done in a watercolor style that fits well with the depictions of nature and the story overall.


Overall, I very much enjoyed this, even though I’m outside the target age range. Not only did I preorder a copy for my kids, but I also hunted down the author on twitter (@ohmaipie), so I will definitely be looking forward to more from her in the future!

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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What a sweet and heartwarming book. It definitely appeals to fans of the “Hildafolk” series which is another one of my favorite. Fantastic writing and illustrations. “Pilu of the Woods” can be enjoyed by all ages!
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A short and sweet middle-grade graphic novel all about coping with grief - Willow has lost her mom, and her emotions, her "little monsters" sometimes flare up and get out of control. Her favorite escape is the woods. One day she meets a forest spirit called Pilu who has run away from home and isn't sure if she wants to go back. Willow offers to show her the way back home and they set off on an adventure in the woods that explores both the complexity of their emotions and their relationships with their parents. I loved the way Nguyen included all sorts of plant facts throughout the story (mainly because I love plant facts) - the illustrations are gorgeous and though the ARC I read was only partially colored, what was there so far was spot-on - lots of greens and all sorts of minute details in the forest scenes... Loved it, and it made me cry.
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Willow is a little girl trying to keep her bottled up monsters in control. After losing control at school and then with her sister, she runs off into her beloved woods with her dog. There they find someone else upset, a girl named Pilu who has run away from home because she feels both stifled and ignored by her big family. In talking, the girls find unexpected friends, both learn a thing or two about their monsters, and perhaps gain some headway in learning how to better manage them.

Wow. I didn’t read much about the premise of this story before diving in and was unprepared for what a powerful and moving story is hiding under the guise of a seemingly light fantasy graphic novel. This is more than just the story about a girl meeting a wood sprite in the woods and becoming her friend. And it never completely spells out what it is really about. It trusts readers to gather enough clues and draw connections to figure it out themselves. It is ultimately about dealing with emotions in healthy ways. One girl is dealing with emotions related to grieving a loss which displays in lashing out in anger at others and feelings of guilt, while the other is dealing with feeling insignificant and lonely. Just about any reader will be able to identify with at least one of the girls. The cover of this book makes it look like it is aimed at middle grade readers, and I think they will enjoy this book. But I’m wondering how many of them will be able to put together ALL of the pieces of this puzzle and be able to enjoy it in all its richness? I think this would be a good challenge for some lower level high school classes to tease apart the symbolism and imagery and what the author is getting at with this graphic novel. It’s a commendable piece of literary and artistic work. I love the earth tones and almost wood-cut style used to tie in with the nature aspects of the story. There are several panels of the woods that would be worthy of a place on a wall as decoration. Overall, a little story that packs a powerful punch. Have the tissues on hand for this one. I’m definitely ordering multiple copies for our Media Center and letting the school counselors and English teachers know about this little gem. (I won’t have to let the students know, they pounce on new graphic novels like free candy.) Highly recommended for graphic novel fans, but also those walking with someone experiencing grief, those learning what to do with powerful emotions, and those who like deep literary experiences. 

Notes on content: Some mild name calling. No sexual content. One character lashes out at other classmate in anger and some flying fists. A death of a family member is very, very vaguely eluded to.

I received an ARC of this title from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you publisher and netgalley for providing me the e-proof copy.love love loved this book. The illustrations, woow amazing , the story so cute and real. I loved how it personified somethings . The protagonist is a reader and has ample knowledge about plants and flowers.It has affected me in a very positive way , I feel good about my feelings. This is one of those books I really want to keep with me when I feel low and just acknowledge that suppressing doesn't make things better but worse. It's so beautifully illustrated and put together that I love it.
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