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Hilo, vols. 1-6 | Series Review

Cover of Hilo: All the Pieces Fit

Hilo (Books 1-6)
By Judd Winick
Random House Publishers, 2015-2020, $13.99 hc
Ages 8-12

In the series:
Hilo Book 1: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth
Hilo Book 2: Saving the Whole Wide World
Hilo Book 3: The Great Big Boom
Hilo Book 4: Waking the Monsters
Hilo Book 5: Then Everything Went Wrong
Hilo Book 6: All the Pieces Fit

The Hilo series has been around for a while. I even picked up the first volume a couple of years back when the public libraries included it on their summer reading list. I thought it was “cute” and didn’t pursue the other volumes. Then one evening I was listening to a webinar with a few graphic novelists, Judd Winick among them, and I’m not sure what got into my head, but I reserved the entire series (7 volumes now, though I’m only including the first 6 in this review) at the public library.

HiLo book cover

I picked up the reserves (surprisingly, they all came mostly together) and brought them home, but my gaggle of readers got to them first. I was literally going from room to room finding copies of the series (so much for my library bin and putting all the library books away in one central location) and so it took a while (thank goodness for renewals) to get the whole series read. And they’re still disappearing from my “write a review” pile.

So my children liked the series. They all took turns reading it. We even discussed which volume we liked best (hands down #6). My students loved it too. I had a random comment on one of my Google Classroom posts, saying, “I just finished the Hilo series, but now I have to wait until February 2022 for volume 8!”

If you have a gaggle of readers at home, it can be a family read, because the reading and interest level really spans the middle-grade years. It’s easy enough for a third grader to read, but my sixth grader didn’t mind reading the same book as his sister. (My student was a seventh grader.) And both boys and girls will enjoy it. This title transcends gender.

Hilo falls to earth and D.J. finds him and takes him home. The middle child of five, in a bustling household, D.J. figures no one will notice Hilo right away. He has always felt invisible and ordinary, and since his best friend Gina moved away, he has felt out of place. But at the same time that Hilo falls to Earth, Gina has returned to his small town. She too is in on the Hilo secret.

HiLo book cover

Hilo doesn’t remember his past. He isn’t fully aware of the extent of his powers, but he is wildly curious. Like a toddler, Hilo experiments and explores the world around him. He is literally a sponge, absorbing language from D.J. and learning about human life, as he also tries to figure out who he is, where he’s from, and why he fell to Earth.

It seems like Hilo is a robot built to battle Razorwark, an evil robot that is trying to erase humankind in a parallel universe. Razorwark is sending robots to try and stop Hilo on earth. Will Hilo succeed? How do D.J., Gina, and their families come into play?

At first, as you continue to volume 2, it seems like the stories continue but are connected. Each subsequent volume builds the story, until volume 6 ends a story arc. So while technically the volumes can be read on their own, as the story builds, it would be a good idea for readers to read the volumes in order.

This series is packed with humor and action and is perfect for middle-grade readers. Young readers should check it out this summer, so they can also say: “What? We have to wait until February to read volume 8? Groan!

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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