Title: Hello Universe
Author: Erin Entrada Kelly
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Number of pages: 320
Type of Book: Fiction, adventure, drama, contemporary
Genre: Middle Grade
Age: 8 – 12
This heartwarming tale follows the lives of 4 very different kids with distinct loveable traits, Virgil (the shy one), Valencia (the courageous, deaf one), Kaori (the self-acclaimed psychic) and Chet (the bully). Virgil, the protagonist, is a shy, often bullied, middle grader with one fervent wish, to find the courage to talk to the girl of his dreams, Valencia. To achieve this goal, he enlists the help of another middle grader, Kaori. When Virgil sets off for his meeting with Kaori, he comes across Chet, his nemesis, and as a result, finds himself trapped in an abandoned well, deep in the woods. Faced with the horrible fate on never getting out of the well, he must reach inside himself to find the strength to overcome his fears …
THUMBS UP AND DOWN
UP: As you may have already guessed, I am not a fan of contemporary fiction but this was a delight to read. It has little bits of adventure, humour, tragedy, light romance, great pacing and suspense! I decided to read it because sometime last month, everyone in the #kidslit community was talking about it. I love it because it didn’t disappoint at all. In fact, it surpassed expectations. It was so good that I totally forgot to read as a writer until I was half way through.
I loved the use of multiple perspectives! First, the story was told from the point of view of four different characters, then 3 out of those characters had their stories told in third person while one, Valencia’s, was told in first person using the present tense. It was executed to perfection and each character’s voice was distinctive.
I absolutely loved learning about Filipino culture and folktales. I also really enjoyed the fact that the characters were strikingly diverse; there’s a Japanese-American, a Filipino-American and one with a hearing defect. In Hello Universe, Erin Entrada Kelly celebrates friendship and overcoming one’s fears. Having Virgil, Valencia and Kaori find themselves in the end was nothing short of beautiful. I love happy endings! The last line was absolutely heartwarming. I almost cried! I highly recommend this one.
Note that this book won a NEWBERY!
DOWN: It had a sagging beginning problem! The first few chapters were quite slow! It also did lean heavily towards fate and the powers of the universe and Ouija boards and the like. Not my cup of tea.
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HAVE FUN WITH THIS BOOK
- Read an excerpt here: https://preview.aer.io/Hello_Universe-MjQwMDQ=?social=0&retail=0&emailcap=0
CHALLENGE: Hello Universe
CREATE (WRITE a Story/Poem OR DRAW)
- Read the excerpt using the link above, then write your own ending. (500 words)
Send your answers to email@example.com.
Entry requirements: Entrants must be within the 8 – 12 age range. The first correct entry will be announced on this page and will win a copy of this book.
Answers must be submitted before 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 13th 2021.
Next Book of the Week:
THE SECRET OF THE PURPLE LAKE by Yaba Badoe
photo credit: Amazon