Nelson: Broccoli and Spies
176pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99
Nelson used to hate vegetables- their smell, their look of them and their taste which was tricky because his family loves them. His grandparents grow them, his father cooks them and the family devour them – all except Nelson who had the grossest pile of smuggled, uneaten vegetables stored under his bed.
The other thing that Nelson hates is school, particularly Mr Shue who has been his teacher for four years, since Kindergarten. They are always on a collision course. However when his grandmother tricked him into swallowing an entire bowl of pumpkin soup, Nelson discovered that he had superpowers, and suddenly his relationship with vegetables changes.
In the second in this new series , broccoli becomes his new best friend and while he is determined to discover why veges give him superpowers, he also wants to know what is the mysterious flying machine at his grandparents’ farm and finds himself embroiled in a spy mystery!
This series will appeal to newly-independent readers who are ready for something more meaty but still having the short chapters and liberal illustrations to support them. With its premise that will resonate with many, characters that are easily recognisable and the type of exaggerated humour that appeals to its target audience, Levins has created a series that children will engage with and parents will love, simply because it may encourage a lot more vegetable eating and the battles about eating the daily requirement may be over. Unlike Nelson who was looking for ways to hide his veges, perhaps readers will even be moved to seek out recipes and then cook them and find a new taste that appeals – although I have to say there are better places for broccoli than my mouth.