Elizabethtown College Education Department Book Club discussion

Hello, Universe

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message 1: by KCapLiteracy (last edited Apr 23, 2018 07:49PM) (new)

KCapLiteracy | 26 comments Share your ideas on Hello, Universe from now until June 30, 2018! Feel free to ask questions/add ideas/share teaching ideas/etc.!

message 2: by Angel (new)

Angel Richard | 1 comments I just finished the book today and I loved it!! I totally did not mean to read it this early. My game plan was to get a head start on it this morning but I loved it so much that I couldn’t put it down. It followed a similar pattern to Every Soul a Star, but I think it worked for this novel and these characters. It offered a lot of diverse characters which I appreciated. There was a nice balance of a deeper meanings, relatable topics, and comic reliefs throughout the novel that I think many middle schoolers could possibly connect to. There were a couple aspects of the novel that irritated me, but I’ll wait to see what everyone else thinks so I don’t ruin anything. Totally worth the read though!

message 3: by KCapLiteracy (new)

KCapLiteracy | 26 comments Way to beat us out, Angel! I just received my copy and can't wait to read Hello, Universe (especially after your awesome comments)! :)

message 4: by KCapLiteracy (new)

KCapLiteracy | 26 comments I just finished Hello, Universe last night, and I have to agree with Angel. I LOVED it. I really loved Kelly's characterization of Virgil, Valencia, and Kaori. I really thought that these characters were great additions to middle grades landscape. They had some unique characteristics (e.g., Virgil's shyness and Valencia's deafness). [BTW, if you're looking for a great children's picture book about shyness, check out Deborah Freedman's Shy, a lovely book!] I also loved the culture of the Philippines sprinkled throughout the text. It is not a culture I have seen featured in many other middle grades books. I wondered a lot about the book's multiple perspectives. Certain characters (e.g., Virgil and Valencia) are given first-person narrations, and others are not. Why do you think Kelly decided to do this? The book is so very sweet but poignant. I really thought of the dark well as a metaphor for school. For how many of our students is school a place of bullying? The idea of us all being connected in the universe is so very important in this book - and is something about which teachers and students can discuss. What did you think of the use of text messaging within the text? I've been to panels with YA authors who were discussing the pros and cons of using technologies (which might be different in a few years) in books. I thought that the text messages did not overwhelm the book, but I did think it was an interesting author decision. And, finally, this book won the 2018 Newbery Award, the award for "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children." I would love to hear what contribution you think this book makes to the world of children's literature.

message 5: by Samantha (new)

Samantha Weigle | 7 comments I also loved this book! I agree with both of you on the similarities to "Every Soul a Star" and the strong character development of the four main characters. The diversity of the characters also stood out to me, especially with Virgil. The use of the Philippines language and stories added an extra layer to the story that I think middle grades students would be able to relate to if they come from a different cultural background. I personally did not like how some characters were in first person and some where not. I think that if all of the characters were in first person, the reader would be able to create an even stronger connection to each of them. Dr. C., I also agree with the dark well being a reference to how some students feel at school. Middle school can be especially difficult for some when it comes to friendships and bullying. I think Kelly brought to light real-life things middle school students face everyday. With the text messages, I think it was used in a way that showed how text messages can be perceived in many ways. It added another element to the book that is relatable to this generation. I feel that this book showcases four main characters that have their own difficulties, struggles, or impairments and how they can overcome them. In these middle school years, they are learning how to be themselves and fit in with the crowd. I think this book resonates well as a YA book and could allow students reading it to create a strong connection. I would highly recommend this book to my future students.

message 6: by Kristin (new)

Kristin Wilkinson | 3 comments I finished the book last night, and I have to agree with many of your thoughts! I thought it was strange that the only character written in first person was Valencia. I felt that if any of the characters were written in first person, it should've been Virgil since I think his adventure is the main story line. Although I really liked the book and its story, I really did not enjoy the character of Chet. His thoughts about the world and other people were upsetting to me, and I would not want my students reading his opinions and negative comments to the other characters. I kept hoping the whole time that he would realize what he was doing and there would be a dramatic transition at the end where he apologizes and realizes, but I was disappointed that we didn't really get this. I did enjoy that Kelly was able to bring out so many issues that are not commonly brought up in middle school. I would highly recommend this book to students who are shy or experiencing bullying. I think it helps to show that middle school is a time of transition and students have lots of time left to change or make new friends as they continue to grow up. I can't wait to hear what everyone else thought!

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