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Literature / Hilda and Richie

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Hilda (left) and Richie (right)

Hilda and Richie is a children’s book written and illustrated by Max West, published by Different Mousetrap Press and released in March 2021 after being funded on Kickstarter.

The book features a pair of anthropomorphic red foxes: Hilda, an adult female wearing fancy dresses, and Richie, a fox pup and Audience Surrogate. On one day, Richie is wandering in Hilda’s Big Fancy House unable to find her but hears a series of popping noises. Richie decides to investigate, hearing the noise coming from nearby; he finds Hilda sitting on a couch with a fan in her hand and chewing on something. Richie asks Hilda what’s in her mouth. Hilda’s answer isn’t verbal. She playfully winks at Richie, lowers her fan…and blows a big bubble gum bubble!

Richie gets interested and wants to try bubble gum too. Soon though, both foxes end up in a mess. How can they get out?

A second book Hilda and Richie’s Wizard was published in March 2022. This time, Hilda gives Richie a silver pendant once belonging to her uncle. She warns him not to lose it...and he does while playing outside. Richie then meets a mysterious wizard named Mr. Abra who helps Richie with his magic and teaches him An Aesop along the way.

No relation to the animated series Hilda, the newspaper comic Broom Hilda or Brawn Hilda.

This book has the following tropes:

  • Audience Surrogate: Richie. Being a children’s book, he is a fox pup and meant for children to identify with.
  • Aunt Pennybags: Hilda is rich, implied in the books and confirmed in the supplementary material below.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The author’s blog about Hilda and Richie features lots more information such as their last names, Hilda being Richie’s legal guardian and Hilda being an Old Money millioinaire.
    • A free e-book "Meet Hilda and Richie" is available online. It covers some of the above information as well as other details such as their home country Foxland.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Richie plays this trope straight; he is not shown wearing shoes, though he wears a shirt and pants.
  • Bubble Gum Popping: Played straight as a major plot device in the first book. Both foxes blow bubble gum bubbles bigger than possible from a single piece of gum and end up getting themselves both Covered in Gunge.
  • Canon Welding: Confirmed to exist in the same universe as Sunnyville Stories and Dominic and Claire. Hilda and Richie could even be spotted in an Early-Bird Cameo in one Sunnyville issue!
  • Censor Suds: While taking a bath with Richie, Hilda is covered up by soap suds. Justified as this is a children's book.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: Played straight with Richie as he comes up with an idea on how to stop any more bubble gum messes.
  • Establishing Character Moment: When Hilda is officially introduced in the first book, her purple dress implies she’s a Proper Lady, she sits on an ornate couch with a hand fan…and she blows bubble gum.
  • First-Name Basis: Throughout the books, Richie always addresses Hilda by her first name rather than any honorifics such as "Lady Hilda" or "Ms. Hilda" in spite of her being an adult with authority over him.
  • Funny Animal: Both Hilda and Richie qualify.
  • Funny Background Event: Many of the paintings, portraits and statues seen in Hilda’s mansion frequently are shown looking at the characters or even reacting to them.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: Hilda wears a frilly dress this color.
  • Honesty Aesop: The lesson of Hilda and Richie's Wizard. Unlike other examples of this trope, Richie doesn't outright lie to Hilda; he reveals he was just too scared to tell her the truth.
  • Impossible Task: Richie's punishment from Mr. Abra for not telling Hilda about their encounter; he sends Richie into a room full of trinkets and orders him to find the silver pendant.
  • Memento MacGuffin: The silver pendant Richie wears in Hilda and Richie's Wizard; losing it leads Richie to meet the wizard Mr. Abra.
  • Micro Monarchy: As established in "Meet Hilda and Richie", the two protagonists live in Foxland, a small country bordered by Switzerland and Austria.
  • Name and Name: Both characters are in the title.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Hilda's dress in Hilda and Richie's Wizard is an orange-pink color.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: Both foxes are colored orange; Richie plays this straight through most of the first book as he wears blue clothes, contrasting his orange fur. Hilda downplays this as her default wardrobe color is purple but does wear a light blue dress towards the end of the first book.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: The wizard Mr. Abra wears both of these.
  • Tempting Fate: After giving Richie a silver pendant, Hilda warns him not to lose or break it. Guess what happens.
  • True Blue Femininity: In the first book, Hilda’s other dress is this color.
  • Web First: Back in 2017, a very early version of Hilda and Richie was serialized on a Google blog.