Hello, Universe
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Hello, Universe

Erin Entrada Kelly, Isabel Roxas

Winner of the 2018 John Newbery Medal

Acclaimed and award-winning author 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).

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 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.


Winner of the prestigious Newbery Medal for 2018, Hello Universe explores some common and not-socommon themes with a charming and funny deftness. We are issued into the world of four middle-school kids who are, for varying reasons, disenfranchised from the mainstream. One day, through mishap, their fates converge and offer up a new universe where friendship will be the winner.

Erin Entrada Kelly’s perfectly pitched novel encompasses multiculturalism, disability, loneliness, shyness and bullying. Does that sound like too many themes and dilemmas? It’s just a normal day in any community, but presented lightly and sensitively. I absolutely loved the characters in this kind exploration of friendship and self-acceptance; Hello Universe champions resilience and applauds difference and I heartily recommend it for girls and boys of 9+.

Alexa Dretzke is the assistant manager and children’s book buyer at Readings Hawthorn.

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