Hello, Universe

Hello, Universe

eBook - 2017
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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. This middle grade novel is an excellent choice for tween readers in grades 5 to 6, especially during homeschooling. It's a fun way to keep your child entertained and engaged while not in the classroom.

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

Publisher: Greenwillow Books


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JCLLizW Aug 04, 2020

I can certainly understand why this won a Newbery Medal...the characters are so well-done. They are each unique but brought together in a natural way. Switching between four first-person perspectives has the potential to confuse the reader but Kelly makes it seamless. I think she mastered the voices of each of the characters and does a fantastic job of portraying their struggles.

OPL_KIDS Jun 10, 2020

Hello, Universe is an adventurous tale with themes of friendship and fate so prominent that it almost feels like a juvenile-appropriate "romance." The story is not "cheesy" or "mushy" at all, but with characters clearly drawn to one another, including feeling "butterflies in their stomach," the allusion of romance is apparent. Despite those undertones, there is plenty of excitement to keep non-romance readers interested, including snake-bitten bullies and a near-tragedy so insurmountable that the character's friends must save him. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in realistic juvenile fiction with a romantic twist, but I would also recommend it to fans of realistic fiction in general.

Reviewed by Miss Allison

Apr 03, 2020

I haven't been able to figure out why books receive the Newbery. This was okay, kind of quiet, interesting how it was told from four points of view, but best for 2018? Hmm.

Dec 09, 2019

This was an awesome book. Read it with my son (10) and we both enjoyed it very much.

Nov 01, 2019

Level Y

Oct 30, 2019

BL 4.7

JCLTiffanyR Jul 28, 2019

Fans of quirky characters and the idea of fate will enjoy this read. The book is charming with a positive message about self-esteem and the meaning of friends.

Jul 06, 2019

Perfectly simple and spot-on in every way: the accidental/natural diversity of the characters; the pure and straightforward plot that was more about these children than what happens next; the great humor; the wisdom about aloneness, friendship, and connectedness; the accurate depiction of everyday middle-school-ness; the deftly deployed magical realism. Plus -- there was a guinea pig. Loved it; didn't want it to end.

Jun 07, 2019

Valencia, the character with hearing loss was wonderfully developed. I think that kids with hearing loss will relate to the ways that Valencia feels isolated and lonely. I also think that kids with hearing loss can find hope for friendship and understanding in the ways we see Valencia develop throughout the story. Below is one of Valencia's tellings that was particularly poignant and that I found completely relatable to my childhood hearing loss struggles:

'I wish I was prepared for when Roberta and I stopped being friends.

You know how sometimes you're friends with someone and they start hanging out with other people and eventually you're not friends anymore, but you can't remember when it all happened? Well, that's not the way it was with Roberta. I know the exact date: October twelfth, fourth grade. Roberta and the other girls were playing chase and I was doing my best to play, too. But after the game was over, she walked up to me and said, "We don't want you to play with us anymore."

"Why?" I asked, even though I already knew the answer.
"The how-tos are too hard," she said. "And you're too slow."

The how-tos were what we called the three ways to talk so I could understand: face me, don't cover your mouth, and speak clearly.

When she said I was too slow, I knew what she meant, too.
When we raced, I could never tell exactly when Megan Lewis called out, "Ready, set, go!" I could see she was getting ready to call it out, but I was never totally sure she had said all three words. When we played musical chairs, I couldn't tell when the music stopped. With hide-and-seek, I never knew when ready-or-not-here-I-come happened. I always figured it out, but I was usually two or three steps behind everyone else. It slowed down the game. I knew that. I guess I just didn't know that everyone else knew it, too. I thought I'd fooled them. But Roberta set me straight.' pp 143-144

VaughanPLKim Mar 20, 2019

A humorous and heartwarming story about a group of outsiders who become friends and learn to stand up to the neighbourhood bully.

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