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Pilu of the Woods (and Trauma-Informed Teaching)

Author H.D. Hunter joins Danielle for a discussion of Trauma-Informed Teaching and YA books that touch on grief, like Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen. (Transcript)

51 Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen and trauma-informed teaching


In today’s episode…

Pilu of the Woods is a graphic novel following an episode in Willow’s life after the death of her mother. After Willow gets in a fight with her sister, she runs away to the woods to calm down. She meets Pilu, a young tree spirit who feels her mother doesn’t love her. Can the two girls help each other find peace among turmoil?



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Episode highlights…

Today’s entire episode is Spoiler-Free!

*1:00 We chat about Hugh’s newest book, Tormentand his experiences visiting middle school classrooms

*5:54 We share our favorite parts of Pilu of the Woods




*9:43 Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

*13:17 Public vs. private grief, and the concept of Ujima

*18:24 Hold Still by Nina LaCour, and her podcast for writers, Keeping A Notebook

*21:24 Danielle shares how her trauma affected her in the classroom

*24:27 Making the classroom a safe space


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More ideas and resources for teachers and librarians…

In this episode, Danielle and Hugh talk a lot about the components of trauma-informed teaching. There are so many excellent resources out there to help you become a more responsive educator, but here are three great primers:

Fostering Resilient Learners by Kristin Souers with Pete Hall

“Essential Trauma-Informed Teaching Strategies” by Concordia University’s Room 241 team

Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers podcast ep.142: Trauma-Informed Teaching

Lastly, check out Danielle’s cornerstone article, “Grief in the Classroom,” which shares practical tips for teachers based her experience with death as a student and as an educator.

51 Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen and trauma-informed teaching

Get in touch with us on Instagram and Twitter at @yacafepodcast or email us at We look forward to hearing from you!




Hosts: Danielle Hall (who blogs at

          & Amanda Thrasher (a booklover extraordinaire)


Guests: H.D. Hunter, author and activist. Find him on Instagram @hd_tsd

Producer: Leila Hobbs

Music: Matt McCammon


Thank you to Oni Press for sending us an ARC of Pilu of the Woods.


  • Jeri Smolek
    May 24, 2019 at 6:38 am

    Thank you so much for this episode. I have been trying to look for more ways to bring Trauma-Informed Teaching into my school and classroom. I have already ordered all the books that you mentioned. I would love any more resources you have that would help my students that are affected by trauma and grief.

    P.S. Enjoy the podcast in general too!

    • Danielle Hall
      May 24, 2019 at 10:31 am

      Hi, Jeri! Thank you for listening! I’m sure we’ll talk more about trauma-informed teaching in the future, since it’s so important and such a big part of YA lives and literature. Glad we could help you out. -Danielle

  • […] talked about this book, and the larger topic of trauma-informed teaching with author H.D. Hunter on episode 51 of the […]

  • […] learn more about Trauma-Informed Teaching you can check out episode 51 of the podcast. Danielle and Hugh discuss some other books that portray trauma in a sensitive way, […]


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