Do you ever look at a book and think, “Well that’s not going to be for me?” Then one day, you find it on the library shelves (or in my case the website and I could put in a request for curbside pickup) and you didn’t want to waste your five-limit book allotment, so you pick it up? And did you then ask yourself, “Why did I wait so long to read this?”
Okay, I might have been in the right humorous mood, but I think most kids are always in that “right humorous” mood. And this fun graphic novel, Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth, is the right one for the kid who likes fantasy, science fiction, superheroes, funny things and adventure. It is aimed at ages 8 to 10 (but slightly younger can read and the slightly older child who is a bit below reading level will also enjoy). There are modern characters and Repeat Business!
What is Repeat Business? Hilo and his buddy, D.J. are typical 8 to 10-year-old boys. They like food, friends and a good belch. Especially if it is a “repeat business” one (or technically the second). But we quickly learn that Hilo is not a typical boy. Oh, the fact he fell from the sky was our first clue and things like shooting lightning from his hands was another, but he also is not typical as he just is excited all the time, loves learning, loves his new friends and most importantly, he’s a robot. We follow Hilo, D.J. and Gina (an old friend of D. J.’s who has moved back to town) as they fight all sorts of creatures and try and help Hilo learn who he is.
And who he is, is a really cool guy who tries and stops the bad guy in book one. But in book two, he must come back (after being sent to another dimension (possibly the one he is from?) fighting new villains who are attacking Earth. This time, along with D.J.s kid sister and a talking cat from another other dimension, they have to stop Viking hippos and some really killer weeds (among other things).
The humor in both books is just typical “kid and dad jokes.” In book two Hilo V02 Saving the Whole Wide World, however, the jokes get a tad stale for the adult reader, but in many ways, I also laughed harder. Also, there is a big gap in a story point. (I just had to take myself out of Adult Me and go into Kid Me mode and just accept that suddenly there is an “uncle” for Hilo (another robot) and Hilo was able to buy a house). I liked the fact that Hilo book one was something I had not really read before (though all the familiar superhero/fantasy/sci-fi elements are there) but by two I had literally read it before. Yet, that did not stop my enjoyment.
Judd Winick created a book that he probably wanted to read as a kid (and I am sure wants to as an adult). His art is funny, delightful, bright and perfectly detailed. The illustrations are happy. They bounce the story along. They help (literally) illustrate Hilo’s humor, enjoyment and the fact he talks out of his toe at one point. They show D.J. confused, determined and ready to go. They show Gina and her exasperation at her seemingly identical sisters (who are a lovely stereotype of older, cooler, cheer leading girls). I want to know these three kids. I want to read the other four books in the series. And I hope you do, too!