Hilo: Gina and the Big Secret | Review
Last Spring the HiLo series took my house by storm. All the readers in my house took a turn to read the series and so I knew I had to depart from my frugal ways and buy the newest volume, Gina and the Big Secret, so it would arrive on release day…. There was utter joy in the Keller house. And yes, I was last on the list. This is probably a good thing because I’m the slowest reader here.
HiLo vol. 8: Gina and the Big Secret
By Judd Winick
February 2022, Random House Graphics
Volume 7 ended with a huge cliffhanger. Gina had done magic and Earth was no longer as it used to be. Magic is now the norm. Humans are second-class citizens, subjugated to the rule of Trolls and other magical beings. Magic is strictly forbidden, and humans seem to live in fear. When Gina returns home, trying to set things back to how things were before Gina’s magic turned the world upside down, she finds her sisters are kind to her and the family is on edge. Sadly, DJ and his sister find that their family no longer exists at all in this universe.
Hilo, Gina, DJ, and his sister set out to find a way to turn the Earth back to a time when magic is hidden. Their adventure is fraught with danger, and the storytelling is riddled with humor. Hilo is still a silly and loveable character. Winick builds suspense, mounts the adventure, and brings back favorites to give readers a robust read. And the adventure doesn’t end in volume 8. There is more to the story, and things are still not all right when it ends. But readers won’t care, because that just means there is a promise of more to come. (I know because my children made sure to point out that volume 9 is due out in the Spring of 2023.)
The cartoon-style drawing, with bobblehead figures, is part of the charm of this series. The bold, bright colors with many soft brown hues are artfully done. The magical and fantastical creatures pop and lend much excitement to the book.
Readers who’ve never picked up a Hilo book before could in theory follow the story on its own, but it is easier to follow if readers at least read volume 7. Hilo’s backstory and his fight with Razorwark don’t come into play in this book.
Any collection that already includes Hilo must run and out and add the latest volume and if not, I recommend doing what I did this year for my school library collection and going back and purchasing the entire series.
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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