It’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday!
Take an armless girl, a boy with Tourette’s who barks a lot, and another boy who is overweight and you have a story that is both funny and memorable. Aven, Connor, and Zion are the kids everyone stares at (and sometimes makes fun of), so this trio ends up eating lunch anywhere but the cafeteria.
Aven is adopted and has just moved with her parents to Arizona who are taking over the job of running an old Western theme park. Her spot on and often hilarious narration bring the story to a surprising conclusion. Along the way there is a mystery she and her new friends try to solve concerning tarantulas and the never seen person who owns the park.
With her two supportive parents, Aven learns more about herself and how to cope with the feelings of others. The times she spends with Connor and Zion are heartfelt and realistic. I liked this one a lot and can see why it became a Cybil’s finalist.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2017 PAGE COUNT: 272
FULL PLOT (From Amazon)
Aven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is she was born without them. And when her parents take a job running Stagecoach Pass, a rundown western theme park in Arizona, Aven moves with them across the country knowing that she’ll have to answer the question over and over again.
Her new life takes an unexpected turn when she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability, and they discover a room at Stagecoach Pass that holds bigger secrets than Aven ever could have imagined. It’s hard to solve a mystery, help a friend, and face your worst fears. But Aven’s about to discover she can do it all . . . even without arms
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:
INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS
- Aven blogs. She never realizes until later the impact her words have on others.
- Approaching your problems with a positive outlook is something we should all do more of, especially MG kids.
- Stagecoach Pass, the less than spectacular theme park, is the perfect setting for the story. I wanted to explore this place more.
- Each of the three characters has unique personalities and different home situations. It was not only acceptance of disabilities but acceptance of where you live.
- The themes here are rich for discussion, especially since Tourette’s Syndrome is rarely covered in literature in such an understanding way. You will also marvel how Aven is able to use her feet in situations normally needing arms.
The boy looked from my face down to my non-arm area and exclaimed. “Whoa! You don’t have any arms,” in a Were you aware of this fact? sort of way.
His response to my missing arms was so direct, I had to smile. I glanced down and shrieked, causing him to jump a little. “Oh my gosh! I knew I was forgetting something today.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her web site):
DUSTI BOWLING grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, where, as her family will tell you, she always had her nose in a book. But it wasn’t until after starting down a couple of different career paths that Dusti realized her true passion was writing. She currently lives in Carefree, Arizona with her husband, three daughters, one bobcat, a pack of coyotes, a couple of chuckwallas, several rattlesnakes, and a few herds of javelina.
Discussion guide for INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS