Review Detail

Kids Fiction 1545
Fantastic Middle Grade Comic
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0
Judd Winnick has worked on a variety of more adult comics, such as Batman, and in promotional materials for Hilo, explains how he wanted comics that his young son could read. When an author has a particular audience in mind and researches what that audience wants, it shows. Hilo is full of explosions, action, burps and silver underpants, all of which appeal to younger readers, but also has a keen eye for the more serious concerns of this age group. Living up to expectations, making and keeping friends, and finding one's true interests are all themes that tweens and younger teens take very seriously.

Winnick must also have done his research on current trends in middle grade literature, because Hilo is nicely multicultural. D.J.'s last name is Lim, and the first food he feeds Hilo is rice. Since this is an illustrated book, those and the pictures are all the clues we need to determine that D.J.'s family is Chinese. Gina is African American. It is the space alien who is blond, which is somehow vastly amusing.

Fans of Big Nate, the Lunch Ladies, and Geronimo Stilton will pick this book up for the full color format and slapstick humor, but D.J.'s earnest vulnerability will make readers take Hilo to heart and wait for a sequel.
Good Points
D.J. comes from a very busy family, and his brothers and sisters all do amazing things. D.J. doesn't. Ever since his best friend Gina moved away, he has felt that he can't do anything well. While out near their old club house one day, D.J. sees a bright flash of light, and finds Hilo lying on the ground, wearing just silver underpants. D.J. tries to find out from where Hilo has come, but Hilo claims his memory is faulty. D.J. takes Hilo home, gets him some clothing (even though wearing just the pants makes Hilo feel "breezy") and feeds him. (Hilo thinks food is "outstanding!".) When school starts the next day, D.J. tells Hilo to stay home, but of course he makes it to school, where he causes a ruckus in the office and gets himself registered. Of course, this is the same day that Gina moves back to town. Unsure of what to think about this, D.J. feels awkward until Gina finds out about Hilo, and then the three are so busy trying to figure out what sort of alien Hilo is and what sort of intergalactic foes he is facing to really reassess their relationship. There are lots of bumps along the way, from finding out that Gina plays a lot of sports and is very interested in science to being chased by huge killer robots from Hilo's planet, but the three manage to work things out and are ready for their next adventure.
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