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Hello, Universe Paperback – April 7, 2020
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Winner of the Newbery Medal
“A charming, intriguingly plotted novel.”—Washington Post
Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly’s Hello, Universe is a funny and poignant neighborhood story about unexpected friendships.
Told from four intertwining points of view—two boys and two girls—the novel celebrates bravery, being different, and finding your inner bayani (hero). “Readers will be instantly engrossed in this relatable neighborhood adventure and its eclectic cast of misfits.”—Booklist
In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his crazy-about-sports family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and she loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister, Gen, is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just stop being so different so he can concentrate on basketball.
They aren’t friends, at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.
The acclaimed and award-winning author of Blackbird Fly and The Land of Forgotten Girls writes with an authentic, humorous, and irresistible tween voice that will appeal to fans of Thanhha Lai and Rita Williams-Garcia.
“Readers across the board will flock to this book that has something for nearly everyone—humor, bullying, self-acceptance, cross-generational relationships, and a smartly fateful ending.”—School Library Journal
From the Publisher
|Blackbird Fly||The Land of Forgotten Girls||Lalani of the Distant Sea||You Go First|
|Read all the books from Erin Entrada Kelly!||Future rock star or friendless misfit? That’s no choice at all.||Abandoned by their father and living in impoverished circumstances with their stepmother in Louisiana, two sisters from the Philippines learn the true meaning of family.||When Lalani Sarita’s mother falls ill with an incurable disease, Lalani embarks on a dangerous journey across the sea to find the fabled girl with golden feet, in the hope of safeguarding her own future.||A humorous and poignant page-turner about family, bullying, art, Scrabble, and the challenges of middle school friendships.|
|Hello, Universe||We Dream of Space||Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey|
|Read all the books from Erin Entrada Kelly!||2018 Newbery Winner! Told from four intertwining points of view, the novel celebrates being different, bravery, and finding your inner bayani (hero)!||2021 Newbery Honor title! Meet the unforgettable Cash, Fitch, and Bird Thomas in this pitch-perfect middle grade novel set in 1986 about family, friendship, tragedy, science, and exploration.||An illustrated novel about summer, friendship, and overcoming fears, told with warm humor and undeniable appeal.|
“A charming, intriguingly plotted novel by Erin Entrada Kelly. ...As she skillfully intercuts these four narratives, Kelly builds suspense and fosters empathy for her characters...As the connections deepen, it seems that this “big, mysterious, fickle” universe might harbor friendship and self-awareness for each.” — Washington Post
★ “Kelly’s inventive story...is told from several supremely well-crafted perspectives. …The short chapters, compelling characters, and age-appropriate suspense will hook young readers immediately. …An original and resonant exploration of interconnectedness and friendship.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
★ “Four middle-schoolers’ fates intertwine one summer in Kelly’s touching tale of friendship. . . . Chapters alternate between the four kids’ perspectives, infusing the story with their unique interests, backgrounds, beliefs, and doubts. …Readers will be instantly engrossed in this relatable neighborhood adventure and its eclectic cast.” — Booklist (starred review)
★ “Plucky protagonists and a deftly woven story will appeal to anyone who has ever felt a bit lost in the universe. Readers across the board will flock to this book that has something for nearly everyone—humor, bullying, self-acceptance, cross-generational relationships, and a smartly fateful ending.” — School Library Journal (starred review)
★ “Kelly offers up a charming novel about a serendipitous friendship that forms among a trio of sixth graders after a bully’s heartless act brings them together. ...Infused with humor and hope, this book deftly conveys messages of resilience and self-acceptance through simple acts of everyday courage.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Kelly creates rich and distinctive characters…through Kelly’s playful, inventive plotting, Virgil, Valencia, Kaori and Chet all confront ‘the universe’ in their own way. In the process, Kelly gives this hope to young readers: we can each discover our inner hero and transform even our toughest struggles.” — Shelf Awareness
“Told in alternating perspectives of the three kid-heroes and one villain...the children’s inner lives are distinctive, and each rings true.” — Horn Book Magazine
★ “Through Kelly’s playful, inventive plotting, Virgil, Valencia, Kaori and Chet all confront ‘the universe’ in their own way. In the process, Kelly gives this hope to young readers: we can each discover our inner hero and transform even our toughest struggles by...reaching out to friends and loved ones.” — Shelf Awareness (starred review)
“Folklore, fairy tales, astrology, mysticism and dreams all mingle together to create a wonderful, fantastical and unique world...there is so much for every reader contained within.” — BookPage
“Fate seems to be trying to bring Valencia and Virgil together, according to Kaori, but it’s sure not taking any sort of direct route. …There’s a touch of Snyder’s classic The Egypt Game here, as a group of disparate youngsters make their own maybe-magic…and find surprising bonds.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Fate—or something—works in surprising ways in this funny, empathetic look at connecting with others in a universe often harsh and inscrutable but, happily, just as often benevolent.” — Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Suspenseful, quirky and heartwarming, Hello, Universe makes the world a little smaller, and we are better for that.” — NPR
About the Author
New York Times–bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly was awarded the Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe and a Newbery Honor for We Dream of Space. She grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and now lives in Delaware. She is a professor of children’s literature in the graduate fiction and publishing programs at Rosemont College, where she earned her MFA, and is on the faculty at Hamline University. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Philippines Free Press Literary Award for Short Fiction and the Pushcart Prize. Erin Entrada Kelly’s debut novel, Blackbird Fly, was a Kirkus Best Book, a School Library Journal Best Book, an ALSC Notable Book, and an Asian/Pacific American Literature Honor Book. She is also the author of The Land of Forgotten Girls, winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature; You Go First, a Spring 2018 Indie Next Pick; Lalani of the Distant Sea, an Indie Next Pick; and Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey, which she also illustrated. The author’s mother was the first in her family to immigrate to the United States from the Philippines, and she now lives in Cebu.
- Publisher : Greenwillow Books; Reprint edition (April 7, 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 006241416X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062414168
- Reading age : 9 - 11 years, from customers
- Grade level : 3 - 7
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.12 x 0.98 x 7.62 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #7,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on August 11, 2018
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I love books that just completely surprise me, and Hello Universe, by Erin Entrada Kelly surprised me. I shouldn’t have been at all shocked that this book didn’t follow what I expected. I mean, come on, Erin Entrada Kelly is just a brilliant author! If you haven’t read any of her books before, I would absolutely recommend that you first read Hello Universe, but then I would tell you to go straight to reading Kelly’s book titled Land of the Forgotten Girls. It is also fantastic!
Anyways, let me explain my thinking a bit further. I have read enough books in my life that it’s kind of transformed me into a self-proclaimed “mini book expert”, well at least a “children’s book expert.” Because I have read so many children’s literature books, I have gotten strong at predicting the plots. If you research the progress of children’s literature as it increases in text complexity, you will understand that books follow predictable plot structures. They have a set amount of characters, character changes, plot events, and setting details. Everything in children’s literature can be studied down to the science of the words on the page, and let me tell you… it has been studied down to the words on the page and how long a child’s brain processes the word. (I’ve read about it, and it is as painfully boring as it sounds. Add in the average time an eye focuses on a word before the brain processes the meaning and you’re in for a real snooze-fest.) Kelly followed the predictable structure and changes of a young adult novel; however, it was done in a different and fresh manner. So much so that I picked up and read this entire book in one sitting.
Hello Universe focuses on several kids that are just looking to find their own pathways. They all have their own struggles, yet they haven’t yet been thrown together. That all changes when the main character, Virgil, and his pet guinea pig, Gulliver, are literally thrown into a pit located in the middle of the woods between all these kids’ houses, and this unlikely collection of characters’ now have their lives entangled together. The local bully, Chet “The Bull” Bullens is responsible for such a menacing prank. I guess when your nickname is “The Bull,” your, of course, are the bully in the story. Remember, I told you that children’s literature follows predictable patterns. It has to! We have young readers we have to connect with!
The events that follow during Virgil’s time in the pit allow for all the characters to have moments of major change. Changes that all children today are continually being faced with. Kelly’s book questions the kids. She is challenging them to ask themselves: Are you going to be the bystander that just watches innocent kids be picked on in this world? Are you the bully doing the picking in order to prevent the world from seeing your own weakness? Or maybe, just maybe, are you the hero in the story? Are you the one that is going to defy everything and stand up for what is right?
This almost-all-in-one-day adventure is a lovely story and the writing is whimsical and inquisitive and funny, just the way I associate a child’s brain must be like.
Its characters are portrayed each with their unique personality and being inside each of their minds on each of their chapters is interesting, captivating and great for multiple perspectives on ‘different types of kids’ (can I even say it like that?).
And I can say without a doubt that in that sense it was very well written and successfully achieved.
The thing, though, is that it all feels a bit incomplete, as if it’s just a starting point to something more. After finishing reading the book, I had trouble looking at it as a finished thing. I felt that I could take this into a middle grade classroom and have multiple discussions about pretty much all the characters, their aspirations, their intentions, their reasoning and their motivations And that’d be the only way To make this book feel whole.
Maybe that was the author’s intention, but I can’t help but feel that as it is, Hello, Universe has left me wanting for more.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good book that leaves you with questions and wanting to talk about it - as a teacher, I loved Hello, Universe for the classroom potential it represents (hence the four star rating).
I just didn’t get into this one thinking it’d be just that. And, if I may say so, not even the ending wrapped it up beautifully and saved it for me.
I still recommend it for middle graders or for those who deal with kids around those ages, to engage in further conversation of important matters. I won’t recommend it as a full fledged book to fill your reading habits, because I feel it adds very little, really. But don’t let my review spoil the book for you. Read it and see how you like it for yourself. Take all that’s been said with a grain of salt and venture at your own risk.
Top reviews from other countries
A pesar de que el libro me ha gustado mucho, el comienzo puede resultar algo aburrido para el lector impaciente ya que en las primeras 110 páginas no sucede nada relevante, tan solo nos describen a los personajes, esto puede resultar algo pesado pero es necesario para apreciar todo lo que sucede después.
Diría que es un libro para chicas ya que tres de los cuatro personajes principales son chicas y el chico es un chaval bastante miedoso y pesimista (casi deprimido).
No voy a hablar del argumento porque se podría resumir en un sólo párrafo y me cargaría la historia. Pero si diré que el título del libro hace referencia a esas coincidencias que se dan en ocasiones y que parecen cosa del destino, como si el universo se hubiese propuesto juntar a personas que en principio no tenían nada en común. Yo no creo en el destino pero el libro me ha dejado con una sonrisa en la cara.
Ich freue mich schon, es mit meinen Kindern zu lesen.