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The Children’s Book Review
Written by Erin Entrada Kelly
Age Range: 8-12
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Greenwillow Books; Reprint edition (April 7, 2020)
What to expect: Character Diversity, Unexpected Friendship, Bullying, and Fate
In Erin Entrada Kelly’s Newbery Medal-winning middle-grade novel, fate brings a snakebite victim, a boy in a well, and a psychic together for a contemporary and heartfelt story in which readers will discover that everybody deserves to be seen.
Thoughtful Filipino-American Virgil Salinas is the smallest kid in sixth grade. He is always picked last in gym class and is also nicknamed turtle by his family because he won’t come out of his shell. School has ended, summer has just begun, and Virgil’s Grandma Lola, with whom he has a secret kinship, knows he has something on his mind. The truth is, he wants nothing more than to find the courage to talk to the confident, intelligent, and deaf Valencia Somerset. On the morning he sets off from home to seek guidance from his psychic, Japanese-American friend Kiara—along with Gulliver the guinea pig in his purple backpack—he encounters Chet Bullens, the bully. Gulliver’s life is placed in danger, and Virgil finds himself stuck in the woods between his and Kiara’s homes, trying to save his beloved guinea pig. Feeling helpless and alone in complete darkness, the stories he has learned from Grandma Lola help him discover that nothing is ever hopeless. When, by chance, the four children’s lives become intertwined, friendships are formed between them most unexpectedly.
Erin Entrada Kelly’s pitch-perfect writing provides Virgil the opportunity to discover his inner hero in a wonderfully believable way. The character development perfectly unravels bit by bit as the story is cleverly told through the four children’s points of view. These differing points of view also allow readers to understand the bully’s perspective. The plot beautifully unfolds with climactic moments and tender suspense.
Hello, Universe is a must-read story that celebrates friendship, courage, empathy, and finding one’s voice. It is an excellent choice for both independent reading and classroom or family read-aloud time. Highly Recommended!
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About the Author
New York Times–bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly was awarded the Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe. Her 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, and You Go First, a New York Times bestseller, Spring 2018 Indie Next Pick, Kirkus Reviews Best Book, and School Library Journal Best Book. She grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and now lives in Delaware. For more information, visit: www.erinentradakelly.com
Dedicated Reviews allow authors and illustrators to gain prompt visibility for their work. This non-biased review of “Hello, Universe” was sponsored* by HarperCollins Children’s Books. Learn more about getting a book review …