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Hello, Universe

Cover of Hello, Universe

Hello, Universe

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), and it's perfect for fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Thanhha Lai, and Rita Williams-Garcia.

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 that 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 the missing Virgil. Sometimes four can do what one cannot. 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.

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), and it's perfect for fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Thanhha Lai, and Rita Williams-Garcia.

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 that 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 the missing Virgil. Sometimes four can do what one cannot. 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.

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About the Author-
  • Erin Entrada Kelly grew up in south Louisiana and now lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Erin's mother was the first in her family to immigrate to the United States from the Philippines. This is Erin Entrada Kelly's first book.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from December 19, 2016
    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.

  • Washington Post "A charming, intriguingly plotted novel by Erin Entrada Kelly. ...As she skillfully intercuts these four narratives, Kelly builds suspense and fosters empathy for her characters...As the connections deepen, it seems that this "big, mysterious, fickle" universe might harbor friendship and self-awareness for each."
  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "Kelly's inventive story...is told from several supremely well-crafted perspectives. ...The short chapters, compelling characters, and age-appropriate suspense will hook young readers immediately. ...An original and resonant exploration of interconnectedness and friendship."
  • Booklist (starred review) "Four middle-schoolers' fates intertwine one summer in Kelly's touching tale of friendship. . . . Chapters alternate between the four kids' perspectives, infusing the story with their unique interests, backgrounds, beliefs, and doubts. ...Readers will be instantly engrossed in this relatable neighborhood adventure and its eclectic cast."
  • School Library Journal (starred review) "Plucky protagonists and a deftly woven story will appeal to anyone who has ever felt a bit lost in the universe. 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."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Kelly 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. ...Infused with humor and hope, this book deftly conveys messages of resilience and self-acceptance through simple acts of everyday courage."
  • Shelf Awareness "Kelly creates rich and distinctive characters...through Kelly's playful, inventive plotting, Virgil, Valencia, Kaori and Chet all confront 'the universe' in their own way. In the process, Kelly gives this hope to young readers: we can each discover our inner hero and transform even our toughest struggles."
  • Horn Book Magazine "Told in alternating perspectives of the three kid-heroes and one villain...the children's inner lives are distinctive, and each rings true."
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books "Fate seems to be trying to bring Valencia and Virgil together, according to Kaori, but it's sure not taking any sort of direct route. ...There's a touch of Snyder's classic The Egypt Game here, as a group of disparate youngsters make their own maybe-magic...and find surprising bonds."
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