Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly


Newbery Medal, 2018

Signature with rainbow




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 following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just act normal 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. 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.

Summary from goodreads


Book Stats

  • Book Source:  School Library
  • Dewey:  RF ENT
  • Format:  Hardcover
  • Genre:  Realistic Fiction
  • Interest Level:  3 to 6
  • Pages:  313 pages
  • Publication Date:  2017  
  • Setting – Character:  four misfits and a bully
  • Setting – Date:  current day
  • Setting – Location:
  • Topics:  Alternating Points of View, Realistic Fiction, Humor, Bullies, Friendship, Hearing Impaired character, Missing children, Psychic, Siblings



  • Reading the Middle:
    • grade:  B
    • audience:  any reader at the middle school and easily read younger readers
  • Common Sense Media:  4 for ages 9+
  • Goodreads Rating:  3.95


Memorable Quotes:

    • “Every time they said it, a piece of him broke.”  page 4
    • “Sometimes the only way to teach people was to embarrass them, wake them up, make them see the error of their ways.”  Sad. page 77


About the Author:

Erin Entrada Kelly received the 2018 Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe

Erin was raised in Louisiana, but now lives in the Philadelphia area. She is a professor of children’s literature in the graduate fiction and publishing programs at Rosemont College, where she earned her MFA. Erin is mestiza and identifies as Filipina-American. Her mother is Visayan and lives in Cebu, which is why many of Erin’s Filipino characters speak Cebuano rather than Tagalog.

Erin Entrada Kelly


Possible Cautions:

  • Bully
  • Name calling
  • Psychic
  • Character negative about different abilities
  • Poor adult role model
  • Child stuck in well
  • Bully bitten by snake


Detailed Notes:

  • /////// SPOILERS /////// SPOILERS /////// SPOILERS ///////
  • Virgil, grand failure, doesn’t know times table, afraid of dark
  • last day of 6th grade
  • grandma from Philippines – bond
  • family calls him turtle because he won’t come out of his shell
  • “Every time they said it, a piece of him broke.”  page 4
  • Valencia, hearing aids, doesn’t know who God is
  • nightmares every night
  • many legends and stories from grandma
  • some Filipino words, Cerbuano, not Tagalong
  • Kaori, Japanese descent
  • Chet, Bully, shoves Virgil into wall, calls V a “retard”
  • Kaori tells fortunes
  • V’s in resource room
  • V believes he is supposed to be friends with a girl Valencia (also in resource room)
  • Chet’s Dad says respect is the same as fear or admiration
  • Chet’s Dad is very negative about people with different abilities
  • “Sometimes the only way to teach people was to embarrass them, wake them up, make them see the error of their ways.”  😦  page 77
  • many Filipino legends and tales
  • in woods, bully takes V’s backpack that contains his guinea pig
  • Bully dropped backpack in well, didn’t know about guinea pig
  • V climbs down well, guinea pig is ok
  • Valencia’s bff dumped her 2 years ago
  • Valencia sees the uncovered well so she covers it for safety
  • voice talks to V in the well
  • Bully hunting for snake and is bit
  • 2 kids find V in well
  • V stood up to bully
  • stands up to mom – don’t call me turtle


Updated:  05/28/2018


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