Hello, Universe
Hello, Universe

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Annotation: The lives of four misfits are intertwined when a bully's prank lands shy Virgil at the bottom of a well, and Valencia, Kaori, and Gen band together in an epic quest to find and rescue him.
Catalog Number: #137846
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 313 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-241415-1 Perma-Bound: 0-605-96925-6
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-241415-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-96925-4
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2016022723
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
Virgil is bullied by classmate Chet, who calls him "retardo." Valencia feels like an outsider because she's deaf. Kaori is a self-proclaimed psychic. When Chet drops Virgil's backpack into an abandoned well, Virgil gets stuck trying to retrieve it; Kaori and Valencia investigate Virgil's whereabouts. Told in alternating perspectives of the three kid-heroes and one villain, the children's inner lives are distinctive.
Publishers Weekly
Kelly (The Land of Forgotten Girls) 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. Virgil Salinas, an immensely shy 11-year-old, lives in the shadow of his boisterous family, struggles in school, and wants little more than to hang out with his guinea pig, Gulliver, and friend, Kaori Tanaka, a self-proclaimed psychic. Virgil-s classmate Valencia, who is ostracized at school because of her near deafness, longs for a friend for the summer and hopes that Kaori-s psychic powers might help her vanquish her recurring nightmares. Instead, Kaori enlists Valencia-s help to rescue Virgil after he fails to show up for a scheduled meeting. Kelly rotates among the viewpoints of Kaori, Virgil, Valencia, and neighborhood bully Chet, who contribute their own distinct stories, voices, and challenges. Infused with humor and hope, this book deftly conveys messages of resilience and self-acceptance through simple acts of everyday courage. Readers will be left inspired to tackle life-s fears head-on. Ages 8-12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (Mar.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 3&11;7&12; The universe comes together unexpectedly when a unique set of circumstances cause four tweens to cross paths. Central to the story is Virgil, an 11-year-old Filipino American whose grandmother, Lola, helps him to come out of his shell and face the world. When Virgil and his pet guinea pig, Gulliver, end up trapped in a well in the woods at the hands of a bully, Chet, it is up to the stars to align before it's too late. Coming together like spokes on a wheel, everyone converges in the woods&12;Valencia, a Deaf girl on whom Virgil has a crush; Kaori, an adolescent fortune-teller and free spirit; Kaori's sister, Gen, her jump-roping apprentice; a feral dog Valencia has befriended; and a snake, which is the only thing Chet fears. Unlikely friendships are formed and heroism abounds as the group of young people try to find their way in the world. Plucky protagonists and a deftly woven story will appeal to anyone who has ever felt a bit lost in the universe. VERDICT Readers across the board will flock to this book that has something for nearly everyone&12;humor, bullying, self-acceptance, cross-generational relationships, and a smartly fateful ending.&12; Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
The lives of several middle school children intersect one summer day, as if by fate. Kelly's inventive story centers on gentle and quiet Virgil Salinas, a Filipino-American 11-year-old, and is told from several supremely well-crafted perspectives. Virgil longs to find the courage to talk to Valencia Somerset, who is confident, independent, and deaf. Third-generation Japanese-American Kaori Tanaka, Virgil's good friend and a budding entrepreneur, offers kids her gift of second sight as a professional psychic. Chet Bullens is the neighborhood bully, and he torments Virgil regularly. Though he is immediately unlikable, Chet's internal dialogue is nuanced, allowing young readers to understand the forces that shape his worldview and to glimpse the insecurity that underscores his behavior. On his way through the woods to Kaori's house for a reading, Virgil encounters Chet, whose cruelty endangers Virgil's beloved guinea pig, Gulliver, and ultimately leaves Virgil stranded and helpless. This ordeal spurs the unexpected collision of all the characters. Virgil, alone except for visits by personifications from the dark folk tales often shared by his Filipina grandmother, contemplates how he will become the hero in his own story should he survive. The short chapters, compelling characters, and age-appropriate suspense will hook young readers immediately. Neither Valencia nor Chet is cued racially. An original and resonant exploration of interconnectedness and friendship. (Fiction. 9-12)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Four middle-schoolers' fates intertwine one summer in Kelly's (The Land of Forgotten Girls, 2016) touching tale of friendship. Scrawny, taciturn Virgil Salinas can generally be found caring for his guinea pig and avoiding neighborhood bully Chet Bullens. The only people he feels comfortable around are his lola (his Filipino grandmother) and his Japanese American friend Kaori, who fancies herself a psychic. Kaori's quirky self-confidence is a foil to Virgil's insecurities, and when he comes to her for help befriending a girl in his class, Valencia Somerset, she can't wait to consult her star chart. For her own part, Valencia struggles with nightmares after being rejected by her best friend, and the fact that she's deaf hasn't made finding new friends easy. When she spots Kaori's "business card" on a notice board, she makes an appointment to discuss her troubling dreams. That very day, Virgil goes missing, and Valencia joins Kaori's search for the boy. Chapters alternate between the four kids' perspectives, infusing the story with their unique interests, backgrounds, beliefs, and doubts. Lola's hilariously grim Filipino folk stories weave in and out of Virgil's mind, ultimately giving him the courage to stand up for himself; and rather than holding her back, Valencia's deafness heightens her perceptiveness. Readers will be instantly engrossed in this relatable neighborhood adventure and its eclectic cast of misfits.
Word Count: 42,824
Reading Level: 4.7
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.7 / points: 6.0 / quiz: 187756 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.3 / points:12.0 / quiz:Q70451
Lexile: 690L

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

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