Troll Wood by Kathryn Cave and Paul Hess

‘This is Troll Wood.
No one goes there.
Will you?
We will.
And they did.

A family in need of a new home find themselves in the mysterious Troll Wood and forced to take shelter there. But within the wood they find a world of unpicked flowers, uneaten fruits and unexplored paths, just waiting to be discovered. Can you see the trolls in Troll Wood? And will you join them there?’


This is a book that I love for lots of different reasons. I love what it shows and what it doesn’t tell. It is written with such spare prose and is full of implied meanings and messages, hidden and missing characters and the sense of mystery. We are never given a complete story or a full answer, leaving the book open to interpretation and discussion. For this reason it works beautifully across different ages and abilities. Children can read it as a book about a family being brave in a wood, with all the associated links to fairy stories that the children may know. Other children may wonder who the family are, how they came to be in the woods, why the trolls are watching them and who they might be or represent.

The illustrations are wonderful watercolours that are full of detail and character. This is my favourite page. Look at the eyes – open or closed they all tell their character’s story. What is the girl thinking? How is the Grandfather feeling? How is the wild animal in his arms feeling? How do we as readers feel about the troll on this page?


The perfect book to use to introduce topics such as homelessness, refugees, travellers, dealing with change and overcoming obstacles, or to link in with fairy tales, or learning about asking questions from a text. Troll Wood works on so many levels and is relevant to such a wide range of ages and abilities that it really deserves to be in every school library so that lots of children can experience it, enjoy it and learn from it. And that’s exactly where this copy is headed.

Source: Kindly sent for review by Frances Lincoln’s Children’s Books.


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