by Nancy Viau
This is a fun book about some serious stuff, and I liked it a lot. I actually bought it for my youngest as a gift, but wanted to have a look myself first. She likes rocks, and so does the main character in this book, Samantha (called Sam). Sam has a growing rock collection, which she\’s looking forward to showing off for a school science project. She loves science and making lists about things, often spouting off facts in class. I really liked how she incorporated her rock collection into the school talent show (although it didn\’t turn out the way she\’d hoped). But Sam\’s hot temper and penchant for science make it difficult for her to get along with peers and make friends. One time she even gets labeled as a bully on the playground because she doesn\’t back down when another kid teases her, but retaliates. Sam also squabbles a lot with her older sister and struggles to stay on her mom\’s good side. She\’s kinda got a quirky family- her mother makes really um, creative birthday cakes with every dinner- (she works for a greeting card company). Dad is out of the picture- at first I thought this was due to a divorce situation, but later in the story find out that he had passed away. So there\’s a bit about that in the story too, how Sam misses her father and wants to find out more about him, but without making her mom feel sad. The big thread through the book is Sam\’s eagerness for a family trip to the Grand Canyon- except she has to learn to keep her temper under control or they won\’t go. Sam learns some self-calming methods to not blow her top so often, and it\’s great to see how she improves with practice over the course of the story. It did feel kind of odd to me that when Sam was going on about something that bothered her, adults or friends or sister would suddenly step in telling her to quit yelling but to the reader it didn\’t seem as if Sam was so upset. I expect that was done on purpose, to show how Sam herself didn\’t realize when she was getting out of control. Overall I thought this was a really good book about a girl who\’s something of a science geek but still wants boys to like her and is figuring out how to get along with her sister and keep peace in the family. I hope my kid likes it enough to ask for the sequel, because I\’d read that one too!
Rating: 3/5 192 pages, 2008