Bera the One-Headed Troll, by Eric Orchard, is another charming graphic novel for the young (nine to elevenish) from First Second Books (August 2016).
Bera is content with her simple life on an isolated island, growing pumpkins for the king, with Winslowe, her owl friend, for conversational company. But her peaceful existence is upended when a human baby is washed up to the island. Bera saves the baby from unpleasant mermaids, and then has to figure out what to do with it. When the malignant witch Cloote arrives looking for the lost child, with definitely evil intentions toward it, Bera decides the baby needs a hero to save it. So she and Winslowe set out to find a legendary hero....braving many magical dangers during their journey. When the first hero fails, they try another...and then another....fortunately they have a band of hedgehog mages on their side to help them through the magical perils. And fortunately at the end, Bera realizes the baby doesn't necessarily need a hero to save it, just someone to look after it lovingly, and it just so happens that Bera's island is under the king's own protection.
It's a vivid and engrossing story, and the illustrations bring the dangerous adventures and the strange magical creatures to life most beautifully! The details of all the characters and the fantastical landscape might well inspire young artists, and the moral of the story (that passing the buck to heroes is often more trouble than simply taking on responsibility oneself), though understated (the book isn't didactic) is one that all young readers will have to learn eventually....
Though Bera might be somewhat monstrous in appearance, she's a loveable protagonist whose determination and warm heart maker her a heroine to cheer for. Winslowe is a great owl sidekick, and of course magical hedghogs add value to any story.
disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher.