Andrew Levins & Nelson: Pumpkins and Aliens

Children looking for something fun to read will enjoy Andrew Levins’ debut book, Nelson: Pumpkins and Aliens. It is the first in a new series about Nelson, a boy who detests vegetables. Parents will also be happy that their children are reading a story that promotes healthy eating, especially in such an enjoyable way.

Thank you for speaking to PaperbarkWords, Andrew.

What is your background and what have you done in your career?

I’ve been a DJ since I turned 18 and a writer since my mid twenties. I started writing about music, then wrote about food (and started cooking it at a restaurant my wife and I opened called The Dip!). I wrote a cookbook and had a column in the food section of the Sydney Morning Herald for a few years. We closed our restaurant so we could start a family but I still DJ and write – Nelson: Pumpkins and Aliens is my first book for kids.

Why have you written Nelson: Pumpkins and Aliens?

I wanted to write a story that combined my love of food with my love of comic book superheroes. Mainly I wanted to write a book that my son Archie would love.

What is Nelson like at home and at school?

Nelson is a lazy teenager stuck in a primary school kid’s body. He just wants to stay in bed and pay video games. He hates school, not because he’s bad at it, but because it forces him to get out of bed and away from his life of not doing much. The rest of his family are morning people, real go-getter types. Nelson thinks they’re insane. They also love to eat vegetables, which Nelson hates even more than school!

Could you tell us about his best friend?

Olive thinks Nelson is an endless source of amusement. She’s Nelson’s only good friend, and Nelson loves to make her laugh, even though she’s laughing AT him most of the time. She loves vegetables, which Nelson thinks is her worst quality, but it means that she’ll always eat the vegetables in Nelson’s lunchbox each day. Olive’s parents moved to Australia from India when they were children and they were teased in school for having traditional Indian food in their lunchboxes. To save their daughter from the same embarrassment, they fill her lunchbox with junk food every day, which she swaps with Nelson! Nelson thinks Olive’s parents are the coolest.

Which part of your story made you laugh or groan?

Nelson refuses to eat vegetables. Every night of the week he stuffs the vegetables from his dinner plate into his pockets and stashes them under his bed. Easily the most disgusting part of the book is when Nelson is forced to eat the decaying mess of veggies under there! Yuck!

Katie Kear illustrated the book. Which of her illustrations do you particularly like and why?

Getting her takes on each character I’d written in the book was the best. She brought all of my words to life! I love her illustrations of the aliens the most. Did I mention there were aliens in this book? Enormous, purple, teacher eating aliens!

What are you writing next?

Nelson book 2 is almost finished! It’s called Broccoli and Spies. What superpower will Nelson receive when he eats a vegetable?

(both books published by Penguin Random House Australia)

What is your youth music charity?

It’s called Heaps Decent. I started it in 2007 with Diplo and Nina Las Vegas – two other DJs who are MUCH bigger that I am! Heaps Decent provides music workshops for disadvantaged young people across NSW and rural Australia. 

How can we find out more about you?

You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter: @levdawg

Thanks very much for your answers, Andrew, and all the best with your Nelson series, your youth music charity and all the other interesting things you are doing.

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