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Hello, Universe

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  20,024 ratings  ·  3,374 reviews
Winner of the 2018 Newbery Medal

In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his loud and boisterous family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister Gen is always follo
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 14th 2017 by Greenwillow Books
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Brian Hutzell [SPOILER ALERT] There is maybe nothing that makes me sadder than animal death in books, but there are some incredible books that should not be overloo…more[SPOILER ALERT] There is maybe nothing that makes me sadder than animal death in books, but there are some incredible books that should not be overlooked because of this sadness. Sooner or later, children are bound to experience the death of a pet, or even simply to witness a dead animal alongside the road, and have questions about it. Ignoring the fact of death won’t make it go away. When handled tactfully, a good author can help us all learn to cope with it. That said, I’m glad Gulliver was still chirping happily at the end of this one! (less)
Leah Kessler Absolutely! As I read it I was wishing I was still teaching so I could read it to my class. It's totally friendly and at a good comprehension level, a…moreAbsolutely! As I read it I was wishing I was still teaching so I could read it to my class. It's totally friendly and at a good comprehension level, and it also leaves room for some discussion of bullying and understanding people who are different from you. There is nothing that would be inappropriate for a third grader and it very much reminded me of some of the books I loved when I was that age, in that as an adult reader it feels pretty obvious that nothing too dramatic is going to happen and that everything's going to turn out fine in the end, but as an 8 or 9 year old I would have felt that some of the events are quite dramatic and I would have been on pins and needles hoping everything came out ok in the end. (less)

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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  20,024 ratings  ·  3,374 reviews

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when i say i want diversity in books.........this sh*t is what i mean y'all.

i'm talking effortless, narrative-enriching, full characters who are not defined by their diversity but, at the same time, are affected by it.


also, no romance. a romance-like narrative that instead of a romance is about FRIENDSHIP. i swear to you all i love middle grade so much it hurts me. whenever you're getting so tired of YA you could scream (and i know it happens)...middle grade is exa
Hannah Greendale
Feeling upon completion: Underwhelmed.
Reaction to Hello, Universe winning the 2018 Newbery Medal: Baffled.
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
“There are no coincidences.”

I was trying to read this book along with Amina's Voice, but quickly realized it wasn’t working in my favor me because as Ron Swanson likes to say, “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” So I decided to dedicate my sole attention on this tale, and it was beyond magical.

• We have a phenomenal first chapter from the pov of eleven-year-old Virgil Salinas with a supporting grandmother that tells of her dreams and stories!!
• We also have an incredible cast of d
Krista Regester
Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Since it was the 2018 Newbery Medal winner I may have had too high expectations. The diversity was spot on and there are great relationship building experiences and lots of adventure thrown in. I hate that the “R” word was used at all. I really felt like it could have been left out. There was no "lesson learned" from using it, and truthfully this really brought the book down for me. ...more
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars.

Either the Newbery Committees and I vastly differ on what makes a book good or the quality of novels produced in the past few years have just not been that great for them to choose from. There are very few Newbery contenders/winners I have read recently that I have thoroughly enjoyed and thought fit the criteria of being a distinguished and lasting contribution to American literature for children.

I suppose there isn't much wrong with this book per se, I just thought it was boring and
Michael Finocchiaro
This was a beautiful touching story of friendship and courage and well-deserving of its Newbery Medal! Again, in a fruitless effort to attract my kids - my daughter in particular - to reading English (she is a bit immersed in a fantasy series so it was perhaps just timing), I read this wonderful book about a shy boy (Virgil), a deaf girl (Valencia), a bully (Chet), and a budding psychic and her sister (Kaori and Gen) and how their paths cross one fateful afternoon in the woods between their hous ...more
Victoria Scott
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you're a writer, this is a great book to teach you about "pure" plots. Each character has an uncomplicated hurdle to overcome, and each character has their own identity without becoming cliches. I really enjoyed this one, and it helped me work through a plot in one of my own manuscripts. Great, clean writing and a great, clean storyline. The ending was particularly well-written and memorable! ...more
Monica Edinger
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My blog review:
There is a certain kind of book that can be tricky for me, a quiet, but emotionally powerful book. I see such books as teetering on tightropes --- balancing just right the heartstrings-tugging, the poignancy, the tenderness, the provoking-of-tears. Too much and I feel manipulated, too little and I just don't care. It is for this reason I was wary when beginning Erin Entrada Kelly's Hello, Universe, but I needn't have been. It is to my mind an exemplar of this sort of book ---- qui
Virgil's Lola was my favorite character in this book <3
Lolas (grandmothers) are the most wonderful 🥺
Yes indeed, I do well realise that Erin Entrada Kelly's Hello, Universe won the 2018 Newbery Medal (and that themes of bullying and how to deal with bullies are important and as such also immensely and inherently necessary to be featured and promoted as topics in children's literature).

However, and with my apologies to those readers who have actually enjoyed and appreciated Hello, Universe, I just could not in any manner get myself into this novel, with its annoyingly frustrating one-dimensiona
Rachel Aranda
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
A solid 4 star read by a new to me author. I picked this book as a leap of faith as I haven’t heard anyone really talk about it or recommend it to me. The cover was nice and premise sounded fine enough so I picked it up. In truth, I didn’t start reading it right away as I was in a weird reading funk where nothing seemed to interest me. It was by a “why not?” decision that I finally started this book and boy am I glad I did.

I really like the variety of characters in this book. Wish this kind of
Abby Johnson
I loved this book. It's a sweet, subtle book about friendship and standing up for yourself and standing up for your friends. I loved getting to know these characters across the pages. The friendship story reminded me of Doll Bones by Holly Black in the best way possible. The characters just felt real to me and I feel like there would be much more to glean on a reread. ...more
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
Wow I was surprised by this book! I love the exploration of a deaf 11-year-old girl attending public school.

My Video Review:

May 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
“I could be wrong. But it seems to me that you feel alone, or maybe you’re afraid of feeling alone. That’s why you get scared when you look around and everyone’s gone. Because it’s like you live in a bubble. Everyone looks at you like you’re invisible. And then one day . . . you are invisible. That would be scary to anyone.”

This was the first book by Erin Entrada Kelly that I read and seeing the way this turned out to be I'm sure I would be reading more of her in the future.

Hello, Universe
Jan 05, 2022 rated it it was ok
2.5 YA read.

Virgil pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes. "What's the point? No one can hear me."

"Of all the questions you ever ask yourself in life, never ask, 'What's the point?' It's the worst question in the world," Ruby said. (PG. 246)

I grabbed this book at the library because it said 'Newbery Winner' and I have actually wanted to focus more on these books. I was disappointed in the story line and plot. It was a fast read but not enjoyable at the end of it all. I liked 'Lalani of
Nicay Magnate
“Of all the questions you ever ask yourself in life, never ask, what’s the point? It’s the worst question in the world.”

I never imagined that I would finish this book in less than one day. As they say, when you are enjoying a good book, you wouldn’t notice how time flies. Plus, middle-grade books are really my cup of tea, because the story of this genre is so simple yet so empowering. When there were times when I read so many substantial books in the past, I would just grab and read light books
What I really liked about this book:
1. I love the cover and the artwork at the beginning of each chapter. This is the sort of book I would have been drawn to as a child, simply because of the nature artwork shown.
2. I like how this book was actually a pretty clean read as far as language. I think the words stupid, retard and retardo were the only harsh words used.
3. My favorite character was Valencia. She was deaf and had a strong personality that I admired. I also loved how she kept a nature
Barb Middleton
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The is a well-crafted novel with interesting characters and structure. The story is about 11-year-old Vigil Salinas, an introvert who is painfully shy and trying to find his voice by talking to the confident and deaf, Valencia Somerset. He gets help from his close friend, Kaori Tanaka, a Japanese American and her side-kick sister, Gen. Kaori is an entrepreneur that believes her psychic abilities can help others with their problems. Gen is always asking a gazillion questions adding humor to the p ...more
Apr 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
I loved the collection of characters, young and old, in this simple story about friendship, and finding your own voice. The way the characters fitted together was like a jigsaw puzzle, and I would totally read more about their adventures and new people they met.
Sue (Hollywood News Source)
I'll read anything Kelly writes. ...more
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Erin Entrada Kelly wasn't a debut author when she won the 2018 Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe, but she hadn't been published long. Blackbird Fly (2015) and The Land of Forgotten Girls (2016) were her two previous novels for kids, both well-received enough that it wasn't surprising when her third book sparked conversation that it could contend for the Newbery prizes. Sure enough, Hello, Universe won the most significant children's literature award of its time, introducing Erin Entrada Kelly to ...more
Cindy Zhang
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Hello, Universe was an amazing book about the journey of friendships. 5 kids, each one with a different personality, somehow became friends. Virgil, the main character, was a shy and stubborn middle schoolboy. He got teased a lot by his family and his friends about being timid. He was scared to talk to his family, his friend, and his crush. Valencia, Virgil's crush, is deaf and barely has any friends at school. Chet was a bully who liked to pick on Virgil because of how weak Virgil was. But thro ...more
Nate Balcom
Mar 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
It's stories like this one that shake my faith in the ALA and dull the shine of the Newbery Medal. I may have totally missed the jive with this book (if so please enlighten me) but... Little plot, semi-engaging characters, and strange out-of-know-where (and never explained) voices are just a few of the reasons I disagree with the awarding of the 2018 Newbery to Hello, Universe. My biggest concern though, is that the librarians who are choosing the Newbery books are FAR out of touch with what goo ...more
Georgia Ball
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children-s
It took at least eight chapters for the action to start in this book. Starting with a hook must be for lesser mortals.
CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨
Listening to the story of this book was like listening to a lullaby. Peaceful, light, and absolutely lovely.

- I love Kelly's narrative; it was tender and so darn witty. I love how she captures the voices and imagination of children.
- Integrates Filipinx culture and stories, told by Virgil's funny and earnest grandmother.
- The characters were wonderful and utterly charming. There's Virgil, a quiet Filipino-American boy who feels out of place; Valencia, who has a hearing disability and struggles
Ann-Marie "Cookie M."
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids-ya
When you're a kid you have very little control over what happens to you. Your world is full of scary things, parents who don't listen, bullies who make your life miserable, people who don't see you for who you are.
It helps to think something is watching out for you, fate, the universe, saints, spirits, even if you know you are really just using your imagination.
This is a story of four kids and a hamster who used their powers one summer day to save themselves from a hole in the ground, a bully,
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Middle-grade novels are superior to YA and that's a fact you can't argue with. Every time I read even a mediocre middle-grade book I feel better afterward and upon finishing this marvel, I was feeling on top of the world. This novel is just so effortlessly real and it warmed my cold heart so many times which doesn't happen that often because my soul is practically dead at this point.

Moral of the story: when you're fed up with everything else - read middle-grade!
Théo M. (bookswiththeo)
Loved the diversity in this middle grade book. However it didn't really have a plot, so I can't say I'm all too impressed by that. There were tons of different perspectives in this one as well, some in first and others in third. Can't say I liked that either. Overall fairly cute though ...more
Katie Fitzgerald
Shy Virgil, age eleven, is having trouble learning his multiplication tables, so he goes to the resource room at his school every Thursday. Every week, he sees Valencia, a fellow student who is deaf and wears hearing aids. He is interested in getting to know Valencia better, but he's not sure how to approach her. He decides to enlist his friend Kaori Tanaka, who claims to be a psychic, to help him figure out what to do. Before he can fully take advantage of her services, however, a bully attacks ...more
Spens (Sphynx Reads)
Actual rating: 3.5

I'm convinced I have to be in the mood for something relaxed and calming to properly enjoy an Erin Entrada Kelly book. That said, I thought this was very cute and touching. Virgil Salinas was incredibly relatable as a character. Overall though I didn't think this was anything particularly special.
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