Erin Entrada Kelly
illustrated by Isabel Roxas
fp March 2017
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 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 missing Virgil. 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.
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Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly is a book about four strangers, Virgil Salinas, Valencia Somerset, Kaori Tanaka and Chet Bullens. They are perfectly happy without each other, but then Virgil and his pet guinea pig, Gulliver are pranked by Chet. Valencia, Kaori and the prankster must work together to save him from a dark and dangerous well. It’s almost like it was meant to be…
It took me a while get into the story, but when the conflict and problems started I found the book intriguing and descriptive. When Virgil gets stuck in the well, important topics such as friendship, trust and bravery are demonstrated in the children’s choices. In the end they have to grow up and face their fears to overcome the challenges.
I would recommend this book for younger readers aged 8-12 because of the simple vocabulary and dialogue. If you like books about childhood friendships and adventures then Hello, Universe is the perfect book for you.
Freya, age 12