Review – Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
Narrators: Ramón de Ocampo and Amielynn Abellera
Getting through Lockdown
Youngest and I read – ( listened to) Hello Universe from March until June 2020 on a daily (week days) basis and loved it. We used it as part of our homeschooling materials. It was a welcomed morning appointment and got us enthusiastic in what would be later termed Lockdown #1
What’s So Great About Hello, Universe
Hello, Universe is a middle-grade gem that intertwines the lives of four distinct kids—Virgil, Valencia, Kaori, and Chet—in a single, fateful day. When Virgil’s encounter with a well and a guinea pig sets off a series of events, it’s like the universe conspired to bring these four souls together.
We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Virgil, Chet, Kaori, and Valencia. They were authentic voices and the perspective of a child was brilliant. The representation of different cultures and abilities was extremely well done, in fact it was spot on. I would be remiss if I did not mention the narrators Ramón de Ocampo and Amielynn Abellera. They were excellent, imbuing the characters with personality, energy and feeling. The narrators made me believe in this group of multi cultural children. The accents, the inflections, the nuance was perfect.
- Virgil: A shy boy who learns to stand up for himself.
- Valencia: A strong-willed girl who is deaf, teaching us that our differences make us unique.
- Kaori: A quirky psychic who believes in the power of fate.
- Chet: The bully who learns a valuable lesson by the end of the story.
My favourite character for her wisdom and ideas was Virgil’s grandmother.
Lola is a source of wisdom and comfort for Virgil, often sharing Filipino folktales and offering advice. She helps Virgil navigate the challenges he faces, including his shyness and the bullying from Chet. Lola’s character adds depth to the story and provides a cultural and familial context for Virgil’s experiences.
Everything is fabulous
The book explores the beauty of unlikely friendships and how they can change our lives for the better. Each character embarks on a journey of self-discovery, learning to overcome their fears and embrace their true selves. Kaori, the young psychic, adds a layer of whimsy to the story. Her belief in fate and destiny lends a touch of magical realism that’s both charming and thought-provoking.
Erin Entrada Kelly’s writing is engaging and heartfelt, making it easy for young readers to connect with the characters and the story.
I would like to thank Amplify CK for their reading notes and videos for each chapter (here), this enriched the story we were listening to and got us to think critically about the text but in a fun way. We got to consider the character personalities, their motivations, fears and interests.
Hello, Universe is a compelling narrative that tackles a multitude of themes. It’s a book that will leave you pondering long after you’ve turned the last page. If you’re in the mood for a story that celebrates diversity, friendship, and the magical twists of fate, this book should be next on your reading list.
4 Stars - Really Liked It