Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

Hello, Universe – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review:  captures hope, creativity and dread.
Children’s book title: Hello, Universe.
Children’s author: by Erin Entrada Kelly.
Children’s illustrator: by Isabel Roxas.
Published by: Piccadilly Press.
Recommended for children aged: 9-12.
ISBN: 9781848129221
First published: Paperback May 2020.
This children’s book is ideal for: pupils year six – a good class reader option.


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Our review:

Set in small-town suburban America, this story brings together four eleven-year-olds.

Virgil Salinas is shy (but not timid or withdrawn) and would love to make friends and fit in more with the other kids in the neighbourhood.
Instead, he becomes a target for the casual nastiness of Chet Bullen, who lives nearby.

Virgil would like to be friends with Valencia Somerset, a profoundly deaf classmate, but can never find the courage to say anything to her.

Kaori Tanaka believes she is in tune with the universe and the hidden, urgent messages it is continually trying to tell us. She sets up in business as a psychic. This is the plot-device which brings the characters together.

As an indirect result of Chet’s bullying, Virgil finds himself in a nightmarish situation of real jeopardy. Kaori and Valencia, together with Kaori’s younger sister Gen, gradually piece together what had happened and rescue him.

Hello, Universe has pace, energy and interest on every page. The characters are accurately drawn and capture all the hope, creativity and dread which are usually in store every day when you’re eleven.

The adult characters, although mostly in the background are entertaining and credible. I was particularly impressed by the accuracy of Chet; he isn’t presented as totally bad – he has his own demons, fears and desires.

Many thanks to Piccadilly Press for the review copy.

If you like these books you might also like Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina, The Boy At the Back of the Class by Onjali Rauf, The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, and New Kid by Jerry Craft .


Why not have a look at our books for Key Stage 2 and our online courses and home learning ideas for children pages?

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About Laurence Inman

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Laurence is an actor, poet, short-story writer, playwright, screenwriter, cartoonist, public speaker, retired lecturer, and former English teacher. IMDb | Linkedin