The First State of Being (Hardcover)

The First State of Being By Erin Entrada Kelly Cover Image
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March/April 2024 Kids Indie Next List

“Erin Entrada Kelly’s sci-fi novel is just the book kids need now! Michael’s anxiety and flaws are so relatable, Elizabeth is a kindhearted secret hero, and Ridge’s curiosity spans time. I love how hopeful this book is.”
— Jennifer Kraar, City of Asylum Bookstore, Pittsburgh, PA


When twelve-year-old Michael Rosario meets a mysterious boy from the future, his life is changed forever. From bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly, winner of the Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe and a Newbery Honor for We Dream of Space, this novel explores themes of family, friendship, trust, and forgiveness. The First State of Being is for fans of Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me.

It's August 1999. For twelve-year-old Michael Rosario, life at Fox Run Apartments in Red Knot, Delaware, is as ordinary as ever—except for the looming Y2K crisis and his overwhelming crush on his fifteen-year-old babysitter, Gibby. But when a disoriented teenage boy named Ridge appears out of nowhere, Michael discovers there is more to life than stockpiling supplies and pining over Gibby.

It turns out that Ridge is carefree, confident, and bold, things Michael wishes he could be. Unlike Michael, however, Ridge isn’t where he belongs. When Ridge reveals that he’s the world’s first time traveler, Michael and Gibby are stunned but curious. As Ridge immerses himself in 1999—fascinated by microwaves, basketballs, and malls—Michael discovers that his new friend has a book that outlines the events of the next twenty years, and his curiosity morphs into something else: focused determination. Michael wants—no, needs—to get his hands on that book. How else can he prepare for the future? But how far is he willing to go to get it?

A story of time travel, friendship, found family, and first loves, this thematically rich novel is distinguished by its voice, character development, setting, and exploration of the issues that resonate with middle grade readers.


About the Author

Erin Entrada Kelly was awarded the Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe and a Newbery Honor for We Dream of Space. She grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and now lives in Delaware. She is a professor of children’s literature in the graduate fiction and publishing programs at Rosemont College, where she earned her MFA, and is on the faculty at Hamline University. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Philippines Free Press Literary Award for Short Fiction and the Pushcart Prize. Before becoming a children’s author, Erin worked as a journalist and magazine editor and received numerous awards for community service journalism, feature writing, and editing from the Louisiana Press Association and the Associated Press.

Erin Entrada Kelly’s debut novel, Blackbird Fly, was a Kirkus Best Book, a School Library Journal Best Book, an ALSC Notable Book, and an Asian/Pacific American Literature Honor Book. She is also the author of The Land of Forgotten Girls, winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature; You Go First, a Spring 2018 Indie Next Pick; Lalani of the Distant Sea, an Indie Next Pick; Those Kids from Fawn Creek, named to numerous best-of-the-year lists; and three acclaimed novels for younger readers, Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey, Surely Surely Marisol Rainey, and Only Only Marisol Rainey, which she also illustrated. She lives in Delaware.

Praise For…

“Kelly (also a Newbery medalist, for Hello, Universe) shines when acknowledging today’s readers’ justified fears while showing them that the key to surviving an uncertain road is traveling it in good company. As Ridge encourages Michael to occupy what he calls “the first state of being” — focusing on the here and now, not fixating on a future we can’t control — Michael forges friendships and comes to accept that 'not knowing is part of life.'” — New York Times Book Review

“This short but suspenseful novel is Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me meets Tae Keller’s Jennifer Chan is Not Alone. Though it takes place at the turn of the millennium, modern readers will be able to identify with Michael’s anxieties over the future of the world, and find his journey compelling.” — BookPage (starred review)

“A teen time traveler from 2199 visits 1999 and befriends an endearing, anxious tween boy in this wholesome and splendidly entertaining middle-grade novel about embracing the unknown. Kelly has written one of the kindest boys in children's literature.”  
Shelf Awareness

“Kelly has deftly assembled a community of empathetically rendered characters, making this an enjoyable, uplifting reading experience. The elements of sci-fi will be enough to sate fans of the genre while remaining approachable for all audiences. A lovable cast buoys this time travel drama by one of the most reliable authors in children’s literature." — School Library Journal

“An epilogue reveals a delicious, thought-provoking twist on a question posed early on by Kelly: would the disruption of time influence past, present, or future events?”   — Publishers Weekly

“Kelly’s memorable character development is on full display as anxious and sensitive Michael learns to embrace the present, while Ridge’s charming misuse of slang adds humor to this amusing ride. A warmhearted blend of nostalgia and futurism.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Newbery winner Kelly gives us a time-travel book that stays grounded, despite the subject matter, and draws on the power of human connection through time and space . . . a solid emotional core will treat readers who love stories about found family and bravery, as well as those who would empathize with Michael’s anxieties about the unknown future.” — Booklist

“Michael serves as an admirable foil to Ridge’s privilege, and the book takes care to highlight his empathy as he struggles to figure out how to find and keep joy in a world filled with pain. Indeed, it is Michael—anxious, vulnerable, and ultimately brave—who will carry readers of all ages to the book’s close.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Product Details
ISBN: 9780063337312
ISBN-10: 0063337312
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: March 5th, 2024
Pages: 272
Language: English

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