Hello Universe, Book Review

Middle Grade Novel for Kids and Adults

Really!

When I finished reading winner of the 2018 Newbery Medal,  Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly, it felt like my heart squeezed in happiness and I said, “That was SUCH a good book!” The more I think about it, the more I recognize how much I cared for the characters, how poignant Virgil and Valencia’s struggles were, and how every detail in the book played a part in the outcome of the characters’ fateful day.

In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his loud and boisterous family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and 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 act normal so that 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 the 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. Goodreads.

Quotes from Hello Universe 

“Crying is good for the soul. It means something needs to be released. And if you don’t release the something, it just weighs you down until you can hardly move.”“People don’t want to listen to their thoughts, so they fill the world with noise.”

“Sometimes life calls on you even when you don’t raise your hand.”

“It’s not being brave if you aren’t scared.”

“Bayani, of all the things you ever tell yourself in life, never say, ‘There’s no chance.‘”  (love, love, love this quote!)

While looking up trailers for this wonderful book, I came across a treat–a video by Kelly on how to make a homemade kaleidoscope.

DIY: Homemade Kaleidoscope with Erin Entrada Kelly

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Sources:Goodreads, You Tube

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Nightbird by Alice Hoffman, Book Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Covers, One Story

I just finished listening to bestselling author Alice Hoffman’s middle grade novel, Nightbird on Audible. Layers build upon each other as characters are introduced, problems increase, and mysteries must be solved. The story is an easy read, but contains poignant reminders of how the past informs the present and how we have the power to change our path.

Summary from Goodreads:

Twig lives in Sidwell, where people whisper that fairy tales are real. After all, her town is rumored to hide a monster. And two hundred years ago, a witch placed a curse on Twig’s family that was meant to last forever. But this summer, everything will change when the red moon rises. It’s time to break the spell.

Quotes from Nightbird:

“I just stored up my hurts, as if they were a tower made of fallen stars, invisible to most people, but brightly burning inside of me.”

“Mean people are meaningless.”

“It was a miracle to live as birds do, except for one thing: anyone seen in flight would surely be captured, perhaps even shot down like a crow flying above a cornfield. It’s always dangerous to be different, to appear as a monster in most people’s eyes, even from a distance.”

Click here to read a preview of the book.

If you’ve read this book, I’d love to know your thoughts.

Happy reading (and listening), hon.

Wonder-ful Event

Wonder, a middle-grade novel by R.J. Palacio
Wonder, a middle-grade novel by R.J. Palacio
Event at Millburn High School in Millburn, NJ
Event at Millburn High School in Millburn, NJ

“Choose Kind” in Action and Spirit

On January 24, I was lucky to hear R.J. Palacio speak about her middle-grade novel Wonder, which I had just finished reading. The book has sold over 1.5 million copies since it was published in 2012. The event was sponsored by The Education Foundation of Millburn-Short Hills and held in Millburn High School’s auditorium. I couldn’t wait to go! (shout out to my SCBWI critique group writers who joined me)

Palacio said:

  1. Becoming a mom led her to rediscover her love of children’s books. (same with me!)
  2. Inspiration for the book came from a “true event” where she hurried her sons away from a little girl who looked like Auggie, the main character in Wonder. She said, “I had blown it” and couldn’t shake the the way she had handled the encounter.
  3. She and her husband made their own trailer for the book, which was considered mid-list and not projected to sell well.
  4. A picture book based on the novel is due out this spring
  5. A movie based on the novel is opening the spring.
  6. Her mom told her, “You’re going to be a writer one day.” (same with me!)

The Ed Foundation’s site says

R.J. Palacio addressed a full house on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 at the Millburn High School discussing how she came up with the idea for her book and how the message of the book has launched an international revolution inspiring all to embrace the theme of choosing kindness everyday.

Over 700 people listened intently to how a book about an ordinary 10-year old boy with a facial deformity resonated with tens of thousands of readers of all ages.

Ms. Palacio passionately spoke to the audience on the virtues of respect, tolerance, and inclusion as a means to heal a world so often divided by cruelty, judgment, and bullying. She shared examples of what students across the country are doing to show empathy and kindness in everyday life.

Click here to see kids activities based on the book.