Hello, Universe

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
Hello, Universe Book Poster Image
Charming tale of friendship, courage, and self-acceptance.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids will learn about Filipino folktales and words such as "bayani" (hero) and "lola" (grandmother). They'll also learn about constellations, zodiac signs, avoiding snake bites, Jane Goodall, and Gulliver's Travels

Positive Messages

Strong messages about the power of friendship, teamwork, courage, and self-acceptance. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Nothing is ever hopeless. Find your inner hero.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although Virgil is shy and quiet throughout the story, he gains the courage to stand up to a bully, tell his mother how he feels about his "Turtle" nickname, and say hello to make a new friend. Valencia is smart and brave and doesn't let disability stop her from pursuing her interests. Kaori is a great friend to Virgil and the first to notice that he's missing. Kaori also quickly understands how to communicate with Valencia. Lola makes Virgil feel like he belongs even though he feels different from his family. Ruby San Salvador gives Virgil the strength he needs to never stop believing.

Violence

Sensitive readers might be frightened by the folktales about children getting eaten by animals. Virgil and his pet get trapped at the bottom of a well. Virgil imagines confronting Chet and throwing him across the neighborhood onto a burning hot chimney. For a few seconds in the woods, Virgil thinks that Chet might smother him or animals in the woods with a pillowcase. Chet gets bit by a snake.

Sex
Language

A bully calls two characters "retard," "mentally defective," and "deafo." Other insults include "moron," "dumbo," "doofus," "pansy," and more.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An adult smokes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Erin Entrada Kelly's Hello, Universe, which won the 2018 Newbery Medalis told from the perspective of four kids -- two boys and two girls -- over the course of a day. Sensitive readers might be frightened by the Filipino folktales about kids getting eaten by animals. A kid and his pet get trapped at the bottom of a well, and another gets bit by a snake. A kid imagines confronting his bully and throwing him onto a burning hot chimney. He also thinks for a few seconds that he might get smothered by a pillowcase in the woods. A bully repeatedly calls two characters "retard" and "deafo." Other insults include "moron," "dumbo," "doofus," and more. Although bullying is a major part of the book, kids will learn about the power of friendship, courage, teamwork, and self-acceptance. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Kid, 10 years old January 13, 2018

This book shows you how to.....

BELIVE IN YOURSELF, AND NEVER GIVE UP. the main character gets stuck in a well and wants to loose hope but the spirit of a young girl convinces him to use his e... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old January 13, 2018

This book shows you how to.....

BELIVE IN YOURSELF, AND NEVER GIVE UP. the main character gets stuck in a well and wants to loose hope but the spirit of a young girl convinces him to use his e... Continue reading

What's the story?

HELLO, UNIVERSE tells the story of four kids -- Virgil Salinas, Valencia Somerset, Kaori Tanaka, and Chet Bullens -- whose lives become connected over the course of a day. Virgil's family calls him "Turtle" because he never comes out of his shell. He's too shy to befriend Valencia Somerset, his smart, deaf, and secretly lonely classmate. Both Virgil and Valencia know what it's like to feel different and hope that Kaori can use her self-proclaimed psychic powers to help them overcome their fears. When neighborhood bully Chet Bullens plays an awful prank on Virgil, it's up to Valencia, Kaori, and Kaori's little sister, Gen, to find Virgil. Through teamwork and a little help from the universe, these neighborhood kids become friends, battle a bully, and find their inner heroes.

Is it any good?

Kids will love this charming adventure that emphasizes the power of friendship, courage, and self-acceptance. Through quirky humor and the diverse, relatable characters, Hello, Universe captures what it's like to feel different and the joy of realizing you belong. There may be some frightening moments for sensitive readers, but the characters' perseverance and teamwork will inspire kids to find their own inner heroes and remind them that they're never alone.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Hello, Universe deals with bullying. How does this issue affect the characters, especially Virgil and Valencia?

  • Do you ever feel different or left out? When? Do you think others in your class or school feel that way? What can you do to help them feel included?

  • How do the kids demonstrate teamwork and courage? Why are these important character strengths?

Book details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love stories about friendship

Our editors recommend

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate