Welcome to Title Talk, 10.2018 & 11.2018. Jinxed myself in the last Title Talk post by bragging about all of the book juggling and reading I was doing. Because just like that (snaps fingers) sometime in mid-October, I started struggling to read. Kind of corresponded with the time we were in Phoenix for the World Series. I was too exhausted every night when we finally fell into bed to try to keep both eyes open on a book. And the past two or three weeks have been so difficult with my mom, I could have read all kinds of books but not comprehended a single word.
Where does that leave me? Well, let’s have a look.
The prompt for September was ‘award winning book’ and the prompt for October was ‘young adult book’. You might remember that I have been responding to each month’s Book Girl Magic reading challenge theme with a children’s book that matches the prompt. I decided to cheat just a little and combine September and October into one book.
Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly. Winner of the 2018 Newbery Award. And the Golden Kite Award for Middle Grade/Young Reader Fiction.
The Fine Print
- Age Range: 8 – 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 – 7
- Lexile Measure: 690
- Accelerated Reader: Interest Level – Middle Grades ; Book Reading Level – 4.7 ; AR Points – 6.0
- 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon
- 3.94 out of 5 stars on Goodreads
So, it’s not exactly a young adult book. But it is written on a middle school interest level.
School Library Journal starred review:
Plucky protagonists and a deftly woven story will appeal to anyone who has ever felt a bit lost in the universe. Readers across the board will flock to this book that has something for nearly everyone—humor, bullying, self-acceptance, cross-generational relationships, and a smartly fateful ending.
Folklore, fairy tales, astrology, mysticism and dreams all mingle together to create a wonderful, fantastical and unique world…there is so much for every reader contained within.
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. [source]
I wouldn’t go back to middle school for all the money in the world. At least not sixth grade, or the first part of seventh. How about you? Hello, Universe is the story of a day in the lives of 4 middle schoolers. And a prime example of why middle school can suck. And be magical and life-changing, too.
Up until this one day, Virgil, Valencia, Kaori and Chet have been slightly quirky satellites in the same middle school universe. Virgil knows Kaori and fears Chet. Chet bullies Virgil and Valencia (and everyone else slightly different from himself). Valencia is in her own silent world. But events on this particular Saturday and Kaori’s special “abilities” change the trajectories of their lives.
Erin Entrada Kelly’s story will resonate with anyone who has felt like an island. Or like Pluto, a dwarf among full-fledged planets.
Or, in my own life, like a cheerleader that no one wanted on the team.
Treat yourself to a trip down Memory Lane. Or grab your favorite 12 year-old and read this book together. It will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy on the inside and with a big smile on the outside.
What are you in the middle of reading right now? I am about to wind up all of my reads and will be looking for suggestions for what’s next. Have thoroughly enjoyed listening to The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell and will be reviewing it soon.
Happy reading, friends! And happy end-of-the-week! Enjoy your weekend.
Hugs and kisses,