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Nelson: Pumpkins and Aliens by Andrew Levins

Nelson Pumpkins and aliensA review by Emma Streeton

Introducing Nelson

Meet Nelson . . . he’s an ordinary kid. Everyone thinks he’s shy but, really, he’s just bored.

Nelson hates vegetables. He hates the smell of them, he hates the look of them. Most of all, he hates eating them.

But what if they gave him superpowers? Superpowers he needs when an alien race he made up in class swoops into town and holds his school hostage, threatening to eat his teacher.

Award winning formula

My youngest bookworm (aged 7) read this book aloud to me and I can definitely say we had equal appreciation for the adventure that unfolded. Combine a kid who hates vegetables with a story involving superpowers and you have an enthralled young reader. Introduce the concept of vegetables being the key to obtaining super powers and you have a happy grownup! Levins is on to a winner from the start and this fast paced, action packed story does not disappoint.

Giggles galore

It is every parents’ constant battle to get their kids to eat their veggies. Nelson’s modus operandi to get around eating his is grossly hilarious.

‘Don’t judge me,’ he said as he dragged his bed away from the wall, revealing years of decaying vegetables that he’d snuck from his dinner plate and hidden under his bed.’

This is just one of the many laugh inducing moments this story provides. Some books try too hard to win kids over by being extra silly and ridiculous but Levins has found the perfect balance of humor. To me this is what makes this book so enjoyable for young and old alike. Try too hard and you lose the engagement of the adult, do too little and you don’t hold the attention of the kids. There is no such problem here and I congratulate Levins for this.

Engaging illustrations

Katie Kear’s illustrations are a perfect fit in this book. They are simple, engaging and do a fantastic job of highlighting the emotions of the characters. My bookworm was particularly drawn to the double paged illustrations. She would pause to take in everything, have a chuckle about what she was seeing and would doubly make sure I was seeing everything too. For a parent watching and sharing this enjoyment brings pure delight.


This is Levins’ first kids book; and he certainly set the bar high for himself. Nelson: Pumpkins and Aliens is sure to warm the hearts of primary school aged kids and the grownups who read along with their junior bookworms. The fun nature of the story is sure to delight even the most reluctant readers. I strongly encourage parents to put this book on the top of their reading list come the 31st March. It is a gem of a book to share with your bookworms and whatever your age you will not be disappointed. I know two readers who can’t wait for the next installment.

If you enjoyed Nelson, you might like Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell.

Book details

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
ISBN: 9781760893347
Imprint: Puffin (Penguin)
Published: 31 March 2020
Format: Paperback, 176 pages
Category: children, humorous

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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