Review Blog

Apr 03 2020

Nelson: Pumpkin and Aliens by Andrew Levins

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Illus. by Katie Kear. Puffin Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781760893347.
(Age: 6-10) Highly recommended. Can you name two ingredients that would rarely be seen together? In this book, those two ingredients are pumpkins and aliens (purple aliens!). Nelson Hunter is a Year 3 kid who despises vegetables in any form or at any meal. He has elaborate plans to avoid every vegetable that is ever served to him, even creating his very own, under-the-bed compost pile of discarded vegetables. And to add to the dilemma, his grandparents grow vegetables and are liberal in sharing them.
After a bad day when his school presentation lands him in detention for telling the 'unbelievable' story of the Aliens from Despina and his grandparents arrive and he cannot avoid the consumption of pumpkin soup, there are some unexpected consequences . . . Nelson Hunter wakes up with astonishing superpowers. The totally unbelievable visit of the aliens with the potential to wipe out the population of teachers at the school must be dealt with by Nelson, with the help of his best friend Olive and the ingestion of pumpkin!
For every child who has disliked one or all vegetables, this book will be a hit. With extremely quirky events (aliens at school), eating from the under-bed compost and the potential for more superpowers in combination with other vegetables, there will be young readers eager to read this book and the future adventures with Nelson Hunter. What does his Grandma have in mind with other vegetables and how much weirder can his life get?
Gross and delightful in combination and deliberately funny, this ticks all the boxes for young readers.
The cartoon illustrations by Katie Kear are naive and comedic, and predominantly black and white with pumpkin-coloured highlights. Themes: Vegetables; Aliens; Superpowers; Humour; Truth.
Carolyn Hull

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