Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

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Annotation: When she moves to Arizona with her family, Aven, who was born without arms, knows she'll be the center of unwanted attention. But she unexpectedly bonds with Connor, and ends up helping a friend, solving a mystery, and facing her worst fears.
Catalog Number: #150656
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Sterling
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 262 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-454-92345-8 Perma-Bound: 0-605-99659-8
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-454-92345-9 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-99659-5
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017021165
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
Born without arms, Aven has always assumed that she was abandoned at birth because of her disability. When her loving adoptive family relocates to manage a struggling adventure park, mysterious clues beckon, leading her to solve a puzzle generations in the making. Aven navigates her unique situation with pluck, brains, and heart.
Kirkus Reviews
Born without arms, white "problem-solving ninja" Aven Green can do almost anything with her feet instead—even solve a mystery. "Now that I'm thirteen years old, I don't need much help with anything. True story." Aven's adoptive parents have always encouraged her independence. She's never felt self-conscious among her friends in Kansas, playing soccer and guitar and mischievously spinning wild yarns about losing her arms. But when her father suddenly gets a job managing Stagecoach Pass, a run-down theme park in Arizona, tales of alligator wrestling can't stop her new classmates' gawking. Making friends with Connor, a self-conscious white boy with Tourette's syndrome, and Zion, a shy, overweight, black boy, allows her to blend in between them. Contrasted with the boys' shyness, Aven's tough love and occasional insensitivity provide a glimpse of how—and why—attitudes toward disability can vary. While investigating the park's suspiciously absent owner, the kids discover clues with eerie ties to Aven. The mystery's twist ending is somewhat fairy-tale-esque, but Connor's Tourette's support-group meetings and Aven's witty, increasingly honest discussions of the pros and cons of "lack of armage" give the book excellent educational potential. Though much of this earnest effort reads like an after-school special, its portrayal of characters with rarely depicted disabilities is informative, funny, and supportive. (Fiction. 9-13)
Publishers Weekly
Thirteen-year-old Aven Green, the heroine of Bowling-s sensitive and funny novel, was born without arms due to a rare genetic condition. When her adoptive parents take jobs at an Arizona theme park, Aven leaves behind her comfortable social life, starting over with new peers and teachers to stare at her. After days of self-consciously eating her lunches in a bathroom stall at school (she eats with her feet), Aven opens up to two students: Connor, who has Tourette-s syndrome, and Zion, who is teased for being overweight. Bowling, the author of three self-published YA novels, lets readers see Aven as a full, complex teenager-even while those around her have trouble doing so-and gives her a sharp sense of humor, including a penchant for inventing gruesome stories about how she lost her arms. Bowling-s novel demonstrates how negotiating others- discomfort can be one of the most challenging aspects of having a physical difference and how friendship can mitigate that discomfort. A major revelation that leads to a somewhat-too-tidy ending is a minor blemish in an otherwise openhearted, empathic book. Ages 8-12. Agent: Shannon Hassan, Marsal Lyon Literary. (Sept.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 58Aven Green has always loved her life in Kansashanging out with Emily and Kayla, her best friends since kindergarten; planning pranks; and playing on the school soccer team. Though Aven was born without arms, she has never let her "lack of armage," as she calls it, deter her from doing anything she sets her mind to. But when her father gets a job as the manager of Stagecoach Pass, a rundown Western theme park out in Arizona, the family's move, right after Aven has started eighth grade, presents her toughest challenge yet. Having to deal with the many stares and questions of new schoolmates, Aven sorely misses her old life back in Kansas. However, her unflinchingly optimistic spirit, accompanied by her infectious and indomitable sense of humor, keeps her looking for the silver linings in her new life in Arizona, such as making friends with the cute but prickly Connor (who has Tourette's syndrome) or enjoying the ability to wear flats all year-round. But the most fascinating thing is the unusual mystery at the heart of Stagecoach Pass: the disappearing tarantulas, a missing photograph, and a secret necklace. Aven is determined to get to the bottom of the secret. She is a perky, hilarious, and inspiring protagonist whose attitude and humor will linger even after the last page has turned. The tale of Stagecoach Pass is just as compelling as the story of Aven, and the setting, like the many colorful characters who people this novel, is so vivid and quirky that it's practically cinematic. VERDICT Charming and memorable. An excellent choice for middle grade collections and classrooms.Evelyn Khoo Schwartz, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* A move to dusty, distant Arizona forces 13-year-old Aven to leave her familiar life and friends behind. Don't yawn: Bowling takes this overworked trope and spins it into gold with a skein of terrific twists. For one thing, Aven was born without arms, so the new environment decrepit Wild West theme park ses special challenges. For another, thanks to loving, funny adoptive parents who have raised her to be a "problem-solving ninja" ("I'm so flexible, it would blow your mind," she boasts), readers may repeatedly forget, despite reminders enough, that Aven is (as she puts it) "unarmed." Moreover, when the dreary prospect of having to cope with the looks and questions at her new middle school sends her in search of an isolated place to eat her lunch, she finds and bonds with Conner, who is struggling with Tourette's syndrome and has not been so lucky with his parents. Not only does she firmly enlist him and another new friend in investigating a mystery about the theme park's past but, taking Conner's involuntary vocalizations in stride (literally), Aven drags him (figuratively) into an information-rich Tourette's support group. Following poignant revelations about Aven's birth family, the author lets warm but not gooey sentiment wash over the close to a tale that is not about having differences, but accepting them in oneself and others.
Word Count: 48,600
Reading Level: 4.6
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.6 / points: 7.0 / quiz: 190934 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.3 / points:11.0 / quiz:Q72090
Lexile: 700L

"Aven is a perky, hilarious, and inspiring protagonist whose attitude and humor will linger even after the last page has turned." -- School Library Journal (Starred review) Chosen for the Autumn 2017 Kids' Indie Next List Winner of the 2017 Reading the West Book Award for Children's Books 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.


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