Erin Entrada Kelly: Hello, Universe (Greenwillow Books 2017)
Erin Entrada Kelly is a Filipino-American author and illustrator. She holds a BA in Women’s Studies and Liberal arts from McNeese State University and an MFA from Rosemont College. She currently teaches in the MFA programs at Hamline University and Rosemont College, and teaches fiction in a workshop. Before she started writing children’s literature, she worked as a journalist and an editor. She has already published eight books as a writer and illustrator. When an idea is born in her head, she just thinks about it for months before writing down a single word of it. Once the idea has formed, she takes out her notebook, in which she sketches the story and writes the first draft. In the creation process, in addition the love of writing, she also considers the revision very important. She believes that every sentence should have a purpose. The major aim for her is character development and that her characters seem so real, as if they could step off the pages of the book.
In Hello, Universe, we can follow the story of five children at the beginning of the summer vacation:
Virgil is a very shy, kind and sensitive boy who does not fit in not only at school but in his own family either. Apart from his grandmother, they only understand each other with his guinea pig, Gulliver.
Valencia is a very smart and brave girl who is deaf so she “hears with her eyes”. However, the other children do not like that they always have to face her and speak clearly, so they expel her from their company. Valencia says she’s fine on her own, but she has nightmares.
Kaori is convinced that she has been reincarnated several times and has supernatural abilities, so she works as a medium, but does not serve adults.
Gen, Kaori’s little sister, always follows her sister and helps her (holds her up), and she always has a new passion, currently skipping rope.
Chet enjoys bullying the other kids because he wants to be like his father, who believes that the way to gain respect is through fear.
At the beginning of the summer vacation, Virgil gets into trouble due to Chet’s evil trick, but Kaori starts to worry about him, so she goes looking for him with her sister and Valencia. The individual chapters follow the children and in Valencia’s chapters she is the narrator. It was also very interesting to learn how a deaf child copes with school and everyday activities. What I liked the most was how differently the children think. It is no surprise that the book won the Newberry Medal in 2018.