Books & Literature

Book Review: Nelson 1: Pumpkins and Aliens, by Andrew Levins

JUNIOR FICTION: Meet Nelson. he’s an ordinary kid, just like you. Everyone thinks he’s shy but, really, he’s just bored… and he hates vegetables!

A great read for younger kids – fun, silly and exciting.

The author, Andrew Levins, is a Sydney based DJ, podcaster and writer among many other talents. This book is his first for children and the start of a series of Nelson books for ages 6+. This is a rollicking tale for novice readers, many of whom will no doubt sympathise with Nelson’s total disdain for vegetables.

But not only does the poor lad dislike vegetables, but he is surrounded by family and friends who love them: his twin sisters who love to eat them; his Dad who loves to cook them; his grandparents who have an entire farm of nothing but vegetables; and even his best friend, Olive.

Levins writing style echoes his other activities, being fast-paced and engaging. His humour is reinforced by the brilliant illustrations by Katie Kear, an experienced British children’s book illustrator who uses mainly black and white drawings with judicious use of Nelson’s least favourite colour – pumpkin orange – to great effect. The short chapters, simple words and plenty of illustrations will appeal to young readers ,as will the silliness.

Nelson has a system for avoiding vegetables which includes hiding behind a wall of condiments at the table and creating a toxic swamp under his bed, renewed each day by pockets full of veggies tipped there – including pumpkin soup, carefully placed in his pocket spoonful by spoonful, to avoid having to eat it. Without giving the game away, let’s just say that this might not be Nelson’s smartest move regarding vegetables.

Like most boys his age, Nelson has some other foibles too – such as not paying attention in class. His teacher decides Nelson can do his class presentation on space since he spends so much time staring into it! And if only he’d listened to Olive’s wonderful presentation on vegetables, then he might have been better prepared when the aliens arrived and tried to eat…but that would spoil the fun of finding out about them for yourself!

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: March 2020
RRP: $12.99

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