Cover image for Pilu of the woods / written, illustrated, colored, & lettered by Mai K. Nguyen ; edited by Robin Herrera ; designed by Kate Z. Stone.
Pilu of the woods / written, illustrated, colored, & lettered by Mai K. Nguyen ; edited by Robin Herrera ; designed by Kate Z. Stone.
Publication Information:
Portland : Oni Press, 2019.

Physical Description:
157 pages: chiefly illustrations (colour) ; 23 cm
Willow, who has been struggling with her emotions since her mother's death, runs away into the woods and meets Pilu, a lost tree spirit who cannot find her way back home.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
NGU Graphic Novel Junior Graphic Novels

On Order



"Pilu of the Woods is a heartwarming tale full of natural wonder, with wise and lovely messages about coping with grief, facing your feelings, and learning to forgive yourself." - KATIE O'NEILL (Eisner Award-winning author of The Tea Dragon Society)

For fans of Hilda and the Troll comes PILU OF THE WOODS, a heartwarming and bittersweet story of friendship, loss, exploring complex emotions and finding your way home from debut creator Mai K. Nguyen.

Willow loves the woods near her house. They're calm and quiet, so different from her own turbulent emotions, which she keeps locked away. When her emotions get the better of her one day, she decides to run away into the woods. There, she meets Pilu, a lost tree spirit who can't find her way back home--which turns out to be the magnolia grove Willow's mom used to take her to. Willow offers to help Pilu, and the two quickly become friends.

But the journey is long, and Pilu isn't sure she's ready to return home yet--which infuriates Willow, who's determined to make up for her own mistakes by getting Pilu back safely. As a storm rages and Willow's emotions bubble to the surface, they suddenly take on a physical form, putting both girls in danger... and forcing Willow to confront her inner feelings once and for all.

BONUS CONTENT: This edition includes blank journal pages in the back to encourage readers to keep their own notes about nature and their feelings.

Author Notes

Mai K. Nguyen is a comics maker, illustrator, and ice-cream enthusiast living in Northern California. She has previously self-published two short stories, Coral and the King and Little Ghost. When she's not doodling, she's hustling as a visual designer in San Francisco, watching too many true-crime documentaries, or dreaming about all the other comics she wants to make. Not unlike Willow, she loves feeling small amongst redwood trees and inhaling the salty-grassy smell of coastal bluffs.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Struggling after her mother's death, Willow cannot find the peace that she needs. Her sister is acting like a parent, and the kids at school tease her for showing her raw emotions. On a particularly rough day, she erupts at her taunting classmates and bossy sibling and flees into the woods, where she feels most comfortable. There, she stumbles upon Pilu, a tree spirit who doesn't believe her mother cares about her. Together, the two explore the forest, and, along the way, help each other reconcile the inner turmoil that neither is prepared to face alone. Nguyen's tale draws out (sometimes literally) the characters' inner demons and presents readers with a language of self-awareness. The subdued, earthy palette helps to emphasize the story's focus on quiet internal growth rather than on bright, loud action. Nguyen's manga-like art style and slow panel pacing also aid in conveying the story's inward focus. Effectively navigating grief, anger, and their place in the world, the characters in this debut show without didacticism how to engage with tough emotions. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.