Saving the Whole Wide World: Hilo, Book 2:

Book review by
Kyle Jackson, Common Sense Media
Saving the Whole Wide World: Hilo, Book 2: Book Poster Image
Alien robot fights alien invasion in fun page-turner.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lengthy and wordy for a graphic novel, a good way to encourage reluctant readers to devour a chapter book.

Positive Messages

One of Hilo's sayings is "Trying to find stuff out is the best part of not knowing something." 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The eager and optimistic Hilo, his loyal and brave friend DJ, and their bright and clever friend Gina provide plenty of solid and relatable role models for middle schoolers coming to terms with their developing personalities.

Violence & Scariness

There's a ton of stylized comic book fighting with monsters and robots, but there's no blood or gore of any sort, and Hilo makes a point of saying that he doesn't want to actually hurt his enemies, just neutralize them and send them back into "the void" through portals.

Language

Silly insults like "bubble butt" (describing a blobby red monster) and "zit-caked boils from a troll's butt" (hippo warriors) are as crude as the humor gets.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Judd Winick's Saving the Whole Wide World, the second in the Hilo series, is an action-packed, kid-friendly graphic novel full of thrilling superhero combat (stylized comic book fighting with monsters and robots but no blood or gore) and much silliness, along with a bit of mild potty humor and name calling ("bubble butt") throughout. At nearly 200 pages, it's a great pick for middle-schoolers looking for a fun, easy-to-read, page-turner.

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What's the story?

HILO BOOK 2: SAVING THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD continues comic book author-illustrator Judd Winnick's series about a goofy robot from another dimension who comes to Earth, befriends misfit middle-schooler DJ Lim, and winds up defending the planet from the evil Razorwark and his minions. After temporarily expelling his foe in Book 1, Hilo returns to continue his mission and hang out with his friends, setting himself up in a house presided over by a phony robot guardian meant to provide cover for the true nature of his origins. Of course, the joy of small-town tranquility doesn't last long, as Razorwark is busy at work opening more portals to unleash all varieties of monsters and robots to carry out his crusade against humanity, forcing Hilo and his friends to band together to stop the alien menace. Joined by new pal Polly of the Furback Clan, a rowdy, magic-staff-wielding cat, the motley crew must courageously face waves of angry hippo-soldiers, a giant squawking bird called a Jabberwocky, a field of killer vegetables, and dozens of other beasts and bots that suddenly swarm the town. With the safety of their families and the fate of the world at stake, it takes all the courage, cunning, and cooperation that they've got to repel the invasion and protect each other from destruction at the cold metal hands of Razorwark. 

Is it any good?

Building on the strong series start, this second volume is even more action packed, fun filled, and ridiculously goofy than Book 1. We get more glimpses of the complicated family dynamics both DJ and Gina face in their homes, providing depth to the characters and a reason why these precocious preteens are so ready to dive head first into the dramatic fight for planetary survival. While the references to things smelling like "elephant butt" and "gorilla armpit" will surely elicit giggles from young readers, the majority of the humor is derived from Hilo's and Polly's unfamiliarity with human customs and the quirky and creative illustrations of mindless monster mayhem. This charming and exciting entry in the epic saga will leave readers wanting more, anxious to find out what happens after the cliff-hanger ending that sets up Book 3.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it's like to feel like an outsider, either at school or in your own family. How do you stay true to who you are when it feels like you're different or eccentric?

  • What can a story told as a graphic novel do that a novel in straight text can't do? Which format do you like better? 

  • How does Hilo use his advanced technological knowledge to defeat the alien invaders? How do Gina, DJ, and Lisa contribute?

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