Welcome everyone to the first “meeting” of the Hot Key Books Book Club!
First order of business: we need a new name. The Hot Key Books Book Club is just too many words. What should we call ourselves? The Hot Bookeys? The HKB Club? The Order of Excellent Books for Reading Fun Times? What do you think? Leave your suggestions below please!
Now onto our main task at hand, talking about this month’s wonderful book, HILDA AND THE MIDNIGHT GIANT.
QUESTION 1: What did you think of the book?
My Answer: I might as well reveal my bias right up front — I LOVED this book. Loved it. The illustrations were beautiful, the characters were endearing, and the storyline was both elegantly simple and deliciously dark. It’s the kind of book I would have read dozens of times as a kid, and I will probably read it a few more times in the next few weeks just for fun.
QUESTION 2: Throughout the book there is a sort-of Ghibli-esque sense of magical realism. There is a common agreement amongst the characters that flying balls of fur and dog-deer are just regular occurrences. What did you think of this? And do you think this affects the way Hilda interacts with new beings she encounters?
My Answer: Obviously I loved this part of the book. I’m a huge fan of any situation that involves putting totally crazy creatures in completely ordinary contexts. I often wish I could see a happy centaur skipping down the street, or nearly trip over a talking hedgehog. So it’s fun to temporarily enter a world where this is possible (subbing centaurs for giants and talking hedgehogs for deer dogs in this context). I feel like this enabled Hilda’s character to skip over some of the standard shock involved in encountering new beings (though the giants do seem to scare her quite a bit at first), and just get to the problem-solving part of the story quicker.
QUESTION 3: What did you think about Hilda’s change of heart about her mountain home?
My Answer: I think this is the coming-of-age bit of the story. At the beginning of the book, Hilda could not bear to leave her home. But as she becomes more aware of everything around her, and particularly the less-than-benign nature of all those things, she is unexpectedly positive about having to leave her home. Despite her long journey to try to save her home, Hilda ends up playing the mother role to her mother by comforting her when the house gets crushed. Hilda has a moment of sadness at seeing her house in a pile of rubble, but it’s just a few beats before she turns all that emotion into assuring her mother that everything is OK. It’s an interesting role reversal, but also doesn’t seem to be outside of what I came to expect from Hilda.
QUESTION 4: Do you think there is an underlying environmental message in this book?
My Answer: I do think this could be a metaphor for the way we are treating our environment. I feel like we’re always discovering new things that are right under our noses, and that we are often ignorant about (or choose to ignore) our detrimental affect on these “invisible” parts of our planet. I think it’s because it often feels so disconnected — like will recycling this water bottle ACTUALLY save a polar bear? (In isolation, no, but cumulatively, yes, so recycle that bottle!) And until someone “steps on our house”, perhaps more concretely in the form of a tainted water supply or extremely destructive weather patterns, we’re not particularly bothered about being aware of how we interact with what’s around us. I wonder if we’d feel different if all the plants and trees and animals we are driving into oblivion all got up and decided to attack our houses?
QUESTION 5: FUN QUESTION! What is your favourite creature in the book?
My Answer: Hands down, my favourite creatures are the migrating woofs. They look like they would be really nice to hug and possibly a new form of transport?
I’m excited to read your answers! You can answer all the questions, or just the ones you like. Just post in the comments below. And look out for the next book pick, coming to you soon from Cait!