RAM Readers Spring 2020 discussion

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Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (drld) | 24 comments Mod
This is the 2018 Newberry Award winning book! Enjoy!


message 2: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments • “There are no coincidences, some friendships are meant to be.” This is a good and easy-to-read book to kill time on a lazy and cozy rainy day. I guess I have expected a little bit more from a Newbery winner before reading, but it was a nice book though. There are several perspectives I really liked about this book. Firstly, the cover and the artwork of the beginning of each chapter caught my eyes right away. It is the kind of book that I will pick up randomly in the bookstore even though I know nothing about the story. Secondly, I think it is a great book to use in a literature classroom with middle school students even with children because they will be interested in the setting. Thirdly, I also admire that how diverse the main characters are and how they be friends in the most unexpected situation. Each kid has a unique personality. Virgil is shy and timid but gets courage in the very end. Valencia is deaf and lonely because she barely had any friends. Chet is just a bully who likes to pick up the weak. On the other hand, he lacks confidence from the bottom of his heart too. I will say he is not a bad kid but just need to be guided properly. Kaori considers herself as a psychic and a fortune teller who talks to the spirits a lot.

• Kaori’s sister Gen is a really cute and innocent girl who asks random questions all the time. She is one of my favorite characters from the book. Another one has to be Vigil’s grandmother Lola. She is such an amazing old lady who tells stories, compliments and supports her beloved grandson. If I got it correctly, the “Ruby girl” under the well with Vigil should be the spirit of Lola. I just personally like spending time with kids and the elder more than adolescents. This book also talks about race, special education, different religious beliefs. In the meanwhile, the spiritual side of the book somehow confused me when I was reading. It is not an exciting or complicated storyline, but it will stay with you for a while after reading. Lastly, I would like to point out something related to nicknames. Virgil does not want his family calls him “Turtle” and Valencia tries to stop her dad from calling her “Cupcakes”. I figure that teenagers really do not like some nicknames that sound either offensive or babyish.


message 3: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments It is a light reading, but a little boring for me; however, children aged 8 to 12 may enjoy this novel. Among others, this novel raises themes as bullying, special needs, self-esteem, fear, bravery, coincidences, and fate. I feel sorry for Virgil because he suffers bully at school, and at home, it seems that her family does not understand him. The only person that he can trust, and talk is his Lola.
Hello, Universe tells a story about a shy and insecure eleven-year-old Filipino boy named Virgil. At home, his parents call him Turtle, and at school, he is bullied by a classmate named Chet. Virgil wants to meet Valencia, a girl from school, but he is too shy to talk to her. On the other hand, Valencia stays apart from everyone around her because she is deaf and spends most of her time by herself. What Virgil doesn’t know is that Valencia feels as lonely as he does, having been abandoned by her friends.
Virgil realizes that he needs help and consults a neighborhood psychic named Kaori, a twelve-year-old girl who thinks that she has supernatural powers. What I found interesting is that the story leads the children to a scaring adventure in the woods, and it seems that the Universe conspires a series of coincidences that help Virgil and Valencia meet.
The turned point of the story was in the end when Virgil faces his fears, saying to Chet and her mother do not call him “Retard” or “Turtle” anymore, and on the last page of the book, I assume that he got the courage to call Valencia. The experience in the Woods changed his thoughts and behavior. I believe that difficult times in our lives help us to reflect on things that we never thought before, and it brings us courage and strength to go ahead and face our fears.


message 4: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Honestly, I struggled to read this book. It was incredibly boring and there was not enough excitement to hold the attention of even an adolescent. I'm baffled as to how this novel won the Newberry Award! The plot line was simple (no twists or turns) and very predictable, the story was sluggish, and the characters did not even come close to speaking like 11-year olds. The author made these children sound as if they were older teens, and the self-awareness these characters had was definitely NOT on the level of any 11-year old I know (unless they are geniuses).
Granted, I obviously have never written a YA novel, but the way this was written, it feels as if the author is way out of touch as to how this demographic really thinks, acts and speaks.
Overall, I was not invested in this story one bit. If anything, I might give it to my daughter as a "busy" read, but I figure she would grow tired of it and not finish. Adolescents need more excitement in a story than a boy falling in a well for a few hours.


message 5: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments Lourdes wrote: "It is a light reading, but a little boring for me; however, children aged 8 to 12 may enjoy this novel. Among others, this novel raises themes as bullying, special needs, self-esteem, fear, bravery..."

Hey Lou,

I really like the last part of your reflection. Human beings are full of potential power will and sometimes the tough moments can ignite our capacities.

Yao Chen


message 6: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments Natalie wrote: "Honestly, I struggled to read this book. It was incredibly boring and there was not enough excitement to hold the attention of even an adolescent. I'm baffled as to how this novel won the Newberry ..."

Hi Natalie,

I also had more expectations of this book, but found a little disappointed in the end. And as I mentioned in my book report, my favorite characters are Gen and Lola instead of any one of the adolescents.

Yao Chen


message 7: by ThaoTam (last edited May 06, 2020 03:54PM) (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments After “Wonder” and “Out of my mind”, Hello Universe is not attracted me. Of course, this is not too bad, but after two strong feelings about two-story of August and Melody, I feel this book pulls my feeling down. This is a beautiful touching story of friendship 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 houses. At first, they are not friends but later with the universe arrange: Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well and Kaori, Gen, and Valencia find the missing Virgil. During Virgil's time at the bottom of the well, he thinks about his fearful behavior and resolves to make some changes if he’s ever rescued. Finally, Virgil is not a shy boy anymore, he solves his problem with the fearing of Chet, and he has brave enough to text to his crush Valencia.


The story wants to give us a message: we can hope and do what we believe. Like Valencia, she is deaf and lives in her own life, she didn’t know that Virgil crushes her. And Virgil cannot believe that he can do the most difficult thing in his life. This is not a special story, it can be taught for adolescents but it should be the second or the third. It cannot go after “ Wonder” and “ out of my mind”.


message 8: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments Natalie wrote: "Honestly, I struggled to read this book. It was incredibly boring and there was not enough excitement to hold the attention of even an adolescent. I'm baffled as to how this novel won the Newberry ..."

Hey Natalie,
It´s funny that you also find this book boring. I thought it was just me.
I completely agree with you that there is no excitement. The message that it brings is well-knowing messages. No surprises!


message 9: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Yao wrote: "Natalie wrote: "Honestly, I struggled to read this book. It was incredibly boring and there was not enough excitement to hold the attention of even an adolescent. I'm baffled as to how this novel w..."

Hi Yao: I see that a lot of us agree that this was not the most exciting book we've read. I'm glad you brought up Lola because she was definitely my favorite character in this novel. Her rich stories about her homeland were way more interesting than the story itself! I wish the story would have revolved around Virgil's relationship with Lola, and how he learns to appreciate her stories. That would have been nice.


message 10: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Lourdes wrote: "Natalie wrote: "Honestly, I struggled to read this book. It was incredibly boring and there was not enough excitement to hold the attention of even an adolescent. I'm baffled as to how this novel w..."

Hi Lourdes: Yes, I definitely agree with you--no excitement and the message is one that we've seen in other novels we've read. In fact, a lot of the novels we've read this semester deal with bullying, being unique, friendships--but, I feel as if those novels communicated those themes way better.


message 11: by Diana (new)

Diana | 31 comments Natalie wrote: "Honestly, I struggled to read this book. It was incredibly boring and there was not enough excitement to hold the attention of even an adolescent. I'm baffled as to how this novel won the Newberry ..."

I totally agree! I found it difficult to read because I was bored. I understand what you meant about the author not being in touch with 11 year-olds language...I think the author was just trying too hard.


message 12: by Diana (new)

Diana | 31 comments ThaoTam wrote: "After “Wonder” and “Out of my mind”, Hello Universe is not attracted me. Of course, this is not too bad, but after two strong feelings about two-story of August and Melody, I feel this book pulls m..."

Good point this book was not meant to be after "Wonder" or "Out of mind". That may be the reason why I was so disconnected from the book.


message 13: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments Yao wrote: "• “There are no coincidences, some friendships are meant to be.” This is a good and easy-to-read book to kill time on a lazy and cozy rainy day. I guess I have expected a little bit more from a New..."

Hey Yao,
I like your comments, especially the two points you bring up.
One is about Virgil´s grandmother and the other the use of nicknames.
I also appreciate the way Virgil´s grandmother treats him. Readers can tell how caring and supportive she is. On the other hand, his parents seem to be weird, and I do not like that they call Virgil using the nickname "Turtle." Similar situation with Valencia´s Dad calling her "Cupcake."
Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens, and the novel brings this issue to remind people how the use of nicknames can be harmful to children.


message 14: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments Hello Universe was a fairly straight-forward read. The storyline was simply without much action to the story except the prank that lands Virgil at the bottom of the well. Although it is nice to see different points of view in the novel. The novel displays the perspective of the four characters: Virgil, Valencia, Kaori, and Chet.

I think that in comparison to some of the other books that we have read, this one falls near the book of the list for me. I feel like some young adolescents might find it exciting and would be able to enjoy it, but for me, it wasn't.

I know that it was a winner of a Newbery Medal, which was quite surprising to me. Out of curiosity, I went to the page and looked at some of the other books that have received this year, and I have to say that there is a difference between this one and other winners. The 2019 winner was Merci Saurez Changes Gears, which I loved way more than this one.


message 15: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments ThaoTam wrote: "After “Wonder” and “Out of my mind”, Hello Universe is not attracted me. Of course, this is not too bad, but after two strong feelings about two-story of August and Melody, I feel this book pulls m..."

ThaoTam wrote: "After “Wonder” and “Out of my mind”, Hello Universe is not attracted me. Of course, this is not too bad, but after two strong feelings about two-story of August and Melody, I feel this book pulls m..."

Hi Thao,

I agree that this book pales in comparison to Wonder and Out of My Mind. Those two were great books and had story lines that touched my heart. I do like the message that you mentioned about having hope and believing.


message 16: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments Lourdes wrote: "It is a light reading, but a little boring for me; however, children aged 8 to 12 may enjoy this novel. Among others, this novel raises themes as bullying, special needs, self-esteem, fear, bravery..."

Hi Lou!

I am glad that I wasn't the only one that wasn't super interested in this book. I love what you said at the end. Everyone has experienced a difficult moment in our lives, and after reading this book, I was reminded that during those times, we have to be brave and keep treading to have our fears.


message 17: by Bruna (new)

Bruna Alcaraz | 41 comments In "Hello, Universe" Erin Kelly Entry puts side by side four characters who, in their best and worst dreams, would never dream of crossing paths with each other, even if studying all at the same school: Virgil Salinas, a shy kid who considers himself a big loser, and who only an X-ray is able to tell what goes through his thinking. His best friend is a guinea pig who, according to him, suffers from a "debilitating depression" from living alone; Valencia Somerset, a girl who uses a hearing aid to better understand the world, intelligent, very stubborn and endled with a refined sense of humor; Kaori Tanaka, a young seer who claims to be able to read the stars and who calls her room "the chamber of spirits"; and Chet Bullens, better known as Taurus, the biggest bully in the neighborhood who, in Virgil's words, "haunts Elm Street like a tiger on the loose."
Another striking character in this narrative is Lola, Virgil's grandmother, someone who believes that Virgil's mother - Virgil's mother - would buy judas kisses if they were on sale and who tells her grandson stories as cool as that of the evil three-headed monkeys, who live in darkness, or children carried by birds in the dead of night.
There are four lives that touch only on the margins, between the calculated escape to a confessed bullying and the inability to confess a tremendous love, but that will get entangled when a match of great bad taste goes wrong.
Touching the somewhat esoteric conversation of whether the world is made of coincidences or if there are things that have been prepared for us by fate, Kelly invites, in this story about hope, courage and friendship, each reader to seek his inner hero, leaving for enjoyment a maxim that could be engraved on a tile or printed on a T-Shirt: "Of all the things you ever say to yourself In life, never say, "There's no chance."


message 18: by Bruna (new)

Bruna Alcaraz | 41 comments Diana wrote: "ThaoTam wrote: "After “Wonder” and “Out of my mind”, Hello Universe is not attracted me. Of course, this is not too bad, but after two strong feelings about two-story of August and Melody, I feel t..."

Thao and Diana, I agree with you guys ...
After reading very good books, this one is not interesting.


message 19: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments Jackie wrote: "Hello Universe was a fairly straight-forward read. The storyline was simply without much action to the story except the prank that lands Virgil at the bottom of the well. Although it is nice to see..."

Hi Jackie!
I have the same feeling with you in this book. That maybe because of " wonder " and " out of my mind" too strong to get almost our feeling and this novel doesn't have a special topic


message 20: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments Natalie wrote: "Honestly, I struggled to read this book. It was incredibly boring and there was not enough excitement to hold the attention of even an adolescent. I'm baffled as to how this novel won the Newberry ..."

Hi Natalie!
Al most of us have the same feeling when we read this novel. And we have no feeling about it after the " wonder" and " out of my mind" tough out heart


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