The Great Big Boom: Hilo, Book 3

Book review by
Kyle Jackson, Common Sense Media
The Great Big Boom: Hilo, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Action ramps up as Hilo battles robot on distant planet.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

It's a fun, silly graphic novel with not a lot of text, but it's still good practice for young readers.

Positive Messages

Hilo learns that "[i]t was just something small that made me see everything differently." This third book is mostly action, leaving the blatant positive messages about friendship and family from the first two books behind in favor of sci-fi storytelling.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The loyalty and bravery of DJ, Gina, Hilo, and Poly are the core of the story. In the face of grave dangers, they stick together and utilize their various gifts to protect one another and try to save humanity from their robot and alien nemeses. 

Violence & Scariness

There's a lot of cartoon fighting with lasers and explosions, though there's less destructive violence in this book than in the first two installments of the series.

Language

Some mild, adolescent potty humor, with words such as "butt" and "fart" and antiquated British insults such as "daft" and "git." 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Great Big Boom: Hilo Book, by author-illustrator Judd Winnick, is another goofy, joke-filled, action-packed installment in the fun graphic novel series about a boy from space who shoots lasers from his hands and fights robots, aliens, and monsters. This time Hilo and his pals travel through a portal to a distant planet in another dimension to fight the evil robot Razorwark. There are several battle and chase sequences depicted throughout the book, but the cartoon violence is kid-friendly, and the mild potty humor is infrequent and inoffensive.

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What's the story?

In THE GREAT BIG BOOM: HILO, BOOK 3, the titular robot boy from space must again save humanity from impending doom at the hands of the evil robot overlord Razorwark. This time, however, the target is not Earth but rather a distant planet in a different dimension, one dominated by mechanized-armor-clad reptiles called the Scale Tail Clan. Flanked by his loyal friends DJ and Gina -- as well as their spell-casting feline friend, Polly, whom they met in Book 2 -- Hilo must search deeper within himself to unlock the hidden memories that hold the answers to how to defeat their foes. More of Hilo's mysterious origins are revealed in Book 3, though there are seemingly plenty of secrets left to uncover in future episodes.

Is it any good?

This installment takes a turn for the formulaic, settling into a comfortable rhythm of battle sequences, mysterious flashbacks, and moments of preteen angst. Behind the lovable characters and creative creatures that inhabit Judd Winick's beautifully rendered interdimensional universe, there's a central message of the power of teamwork, trust, and friendship in the face of danger and overwhelming odds. Some of these conceptual elements are a little less obviously present in The Great Big Boom than in its predecessors, as it focuses instead on the action and science fiction, but the heart of the story remains the dynamic among DJ, Hilo, and Gina.

The Hilo books are first and foremost funny and exciting, featuring lots of juvenile humor and cartoon butt-kicking awesomeness sure to keep kids entertained. The Great Big Boom is charming, compelling, and easy to read -- great for fans and newcomers alike.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the themes of friendship and loyalty in The Great Big Boom. Why do you think DJ, Gina, Polly, and Hilo feel so attached to one another? What does each friend offer to the others?

  • Many of the comics and cartoons loved by kids are centered on superheroes and science-fiction fantasy. Why do you think these types of stories are so popular and relatable to kids and tweens?

  • What do you think is going to happen in the next book? Will Hilo and his friends ever defeat the evil Razorwark?

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