________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 18. . . .January 20, 2017


Bera the One-Headed Troll.

Eric Orchard.
New York, NY: First Second (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 2016.
128 pp., hardcover, $24.99.
ISBN 978-1-62672-106-7.

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Alise Nelson.

***½ /4



“I need a hero, sir. I was hoping you could return the baby to the humans.”

“Why don’t you do it, [Bera]?”

“ . . . . Me??? Ha ha ha! I’m just a pumpkin gardener, sir.”


Bera is a gentle little troll who lives on a tiny island with her owl friend Winslowe and grows pumpkins for the troll king. She has just handed off her best pumpkin harvest yet when she hears a terrible noise and goes to investigate. What she finds is a group of nasty mermaids ‘playing’ with a human baby. Bera rescues the baby from the mermaids, but then she must figure out what to do with the child. When the evil witch Cloote shows up at her door to reclaim the baby for her own nefarious purposes, Bera decides to go on a quest to find a hero who will return the baby to its family. What she finds instead is that heroes are not always what they seem, and sometimes pumpkin gardeners are braver than they think.

     The drawings in this graphic novel are beautiful, but quite spooky. The story is quickly paced as Bera searches for the heroes from her history books and gains friends in forest by way of magical hedgehogs and friendly rats. But the images are rather dark literally (everything is sepia toned) and figuratively (the mermaids try and drown the baby; Cloote wants to turn it into a monster). Younger and sensitive readers will most likely be scared by the quirky and sometimes haunting imagery. Orchard says he was inspired by the drawings of Maurice Sendak and Arthur Rackham. The homage is certainly evident with the blending of whimsy and weird.

     Overall, this graphic novel is filled with danger and adventure and will be appealing to readers who like the unusual and strange. Bera the One-Headed Troll is a beautifully illustrated addition to a collection.

Highly Recommended.

Alise Nelson is a graduate of Simon Fraser University and holds a Certificate in Liberal Arts as well as a BA in English and History. She is currently an MLIS student and a Reader’s Advisor with the Prince George Public Library.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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