Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus
*“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)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.

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus Details

TitleInsignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 5th, 2017
PublisherSterling Children's Books
ISBN-139781454923459
Rating
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Mystery, Young Adult

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus Review

  • Kevin
    January 1, 1970
    Okay, well, I'm going to try to be cool and calm and collected about this but I don't know if I will be successful. I work at a Library and grabbed an ARC of this from the children's department as we didn't receive one in YA. I grew up with Tourette's, and each day is, of course, a struggle with managing it. This book is perhaps the first positive portrayal of Tourette's I have ever come across, and I couldn't be more grateful. The scene in the support group made me cry, as I had never before re Okay, well, I'm going to try to be cool and calm and collected about this but I don't know if I will be successful. I work at a Library and grabbed an ARC of this from the children's department as we didn't receive one in YA. I grew up with Tourette's, and each day is, of course, a struggle with managing it. This book is perhaps the first positive portrayal of Tourette's I have ever come across, and I couldn't be more grateful. The scene in the support group made me cry, as I had never before read something that was able to portray the myriad manifestations of the syndrome with heart, kindness, and humor. I'm also getting choked up just writing this. I hope this book is able to make someone who feels alone with their tics feel like there are those out there who understand.
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  • Dusti Bowling
    January 1, 1970
    Of course I give this fantastic piece of amazing literature five stars. I wrote the darn thing!
  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    E ARC from Edelweiss Above the TreelineAven is not too happy that her parents are moving the family from Kansas to Arizona, where they have gotten jobs running Stagecoach Pass, a run down Western theme park. It's hot, she has to try out for the soccer team, and making new friends is a bit more of a challenge because she was born without arms. Her parents have always been supportive and positive, but Aven has categorized all of the different types of interactions she has with people-- those who a E ARC from Edelweiss Above the TreelineAven is not too happy that her parents are moving the family from Kansas to Arizona, where they have gotten jobs running Stagecoach Pass, a run down Western theme park. It's hot, she has to try out for the soccer team, and making new friends is a bit more of a challenge because she was born without arms. Her parents have always been supportive and positive, but Aven has categorized all of the different types of interactions she has with people-- those who ask inappropriate questions, those who pretend nothing is different, those who ask politely about her arms but don't ask her name, those who back away in fear. When she meets Connor in the school library (eating lunch with your feet is a bit embarrassing when you're the new kid), he reacts a little differently. He has been barking at her, but not because he is making fun of her. Connor has Tourette's Syndrome, and has a variety of tics that make him uncomfortable eating in the cafeteria. The two become friends and hang out a bit at Stagecoach Pass. Connor's single mother works very hard as a nurse and he is frequently by himself, so Aven's mother takes the two of them to a Tourette's support group, which is somewhat helpful to both of them. There is a mystery in a locked desk in the park, and Aven and Connor make some headway in figuring it out, with the help of their friend Zion. Things don't always go smoothly-- Aven is sometimes irritated by how people treat her or frustrated by how hard it is to do things, and Connor also struggles with his issues. The two challenge each other, occasionally have misunderstandings, but help each other make their way into the wider world. Strengths: This struck a very good balance for me. The difficulties of both Tourette's and having no arms are not sugar coated, but there is an overall feeling that life is better if one approaches it with a positive attitude. This is a good message for all children. The parents are great, and their struggles are realistically portrayed as well. Stagecoach Pass is a fun setting, and the mystery adds another level of depth to the book. The writing has lots of Sonnenblick-esque funny moments, and the details about dealing with the challenges will be interesting to middle grade readers. Weaknesses: The title and cover are a bit vague, which is understandable but might require some hand selling. The mystery was a bit overly coincidental for me, but was explained in a way that I could buy. The only thing I would have changed would have been to have the third "misfit", Zion, be very, very shy instead of overweight. Sometimes, people's challenges are not detectable to others. What I really think: I would have loved this in middle school. Realistic fiction about people who are a bit different from me going about their daily lives? Yes! I adored those 'windows', and this one seemed especially realistic. Ms. Bowling also includes a note on her research; she did ask a women without arms to check this for accuracy, and her husband has Tourette's and agrees with the characterizations. This also included a family run theme park! Definitely purchasing.
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  • Danielle
    January 1, 1970
    Delightful characters, setting, and story of identity, fearlessness, and friendship.
  • Michele Knott
    January 1, 1970
    This book needs to be placed in hands of readers because the more they know about disabilities - mental and physical - the more we can talk about acceptance and understanding. Books like these are needed.
  • Jen Petro-Roy
    January 1, 1970
    Compulsively readable, while also dealing with more than one difficult topic with grace and humor.
  • Patrick
    January 1, 1970
    Read this pretty much in one day. What a tremendous story of hope, strength, and letting the light shine on who you truly are!!! Such an emotional ride. Can't wait to share with my students in the fall. A must must must read!!!
  • Kellee
    January 1, 1970
    Full review with teaching tools: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/?p=1...From the very first page, you know that Aven is awesome. In the first paragraph you learn that she doesn’t have arms but it doesn’t matter to her. The only reason why she is upset is because someone else freaked out about her armlessness. She is brave and funny and resilient. The way that she is able to joke around about her physical difference to help ease the reader and the other characters is a true talent. The stories s Full review with teaching tools: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/?p=1...From the very first page, you know that Aven is awesome. In the first paragraph you learn that she doesn’t have arms but it doesn’t matter to her. The only reason why she is upset is because someone else freaked out about her armlessness. She is brave and funny and resilient. The way that she is able to joke around about her physical difference to help ease the reader and the other characters is a true talent. The stories she creates about what happened to her arms just to freak people out truly cracked me up. And Aven’s awesomeness is followed closely by her parents’. I adore them. They are the pinnacle of parents. They are kind yet tough and are raising an independent, wonderful young woman. Then there is Connor who is also so well-crafted. His Tourette’s syndrome is dealt with in a thoughtful way and also doesn’t define Connor just like Aven’s armlessness doesn’t define her. This is a book of amazing characters coming together to find their place in the world.You are going to love this book. Your students are going to love this book. Parents are going to love this book. Your fellow teachers are going to love this book. This is a book that is going to get a lot of love!
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  • The Reading Countess
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. Are you a fan of Wonder? What about Hour of the Bees or Out of My Mind? Are you always on the hunt for books that speak to middle grade readers about being kinder than necessary, or how to teach kids to be a problem solver in an age where being seen as a good parent equates to do doing everything for the child? Do you want to teach kids to put themselves out there, and that being different means you are unique and that that's a GOOD thing? What about perspective? Do you want kids to know th Wow. Are you a fan of Wonder? What about Hour of the Bees or Out of My Mind? Are you always on the hunt for books that speak to middle grade readers about being kinder than necessary, or how to teach kids to be a problem solver in an age where being seen as a good parent equates to do doing everything for the child? Do you want to teach kids to put themselves out there, and that being different means you are unique and that that's a GOOD thing? What about perspective? Do you want kids to know that though the troubles they encounter seem insurmountable, that they are, in fact, "insignificant events in the life of a cactus?" Well, partner, you're in for a treat with this book! INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS comes out in September. You will want to read it so you can know what everyone will be talking about. Yeah, it's that good. Middle grade readers won't find fault with the convenient way some events tumbled into place like an adult reader would, and the lessons learned after putting the book down will no doubt stay with the reader long after. Highly recommended!Many thanks to Edelweiss Above the Treeline and Sterling Children's Books for the sneak peak! ❤
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    In Dusti Bowling’s warm and engaging MG debut, INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS, we meet thirteen-year-old Aven Green, a gregarious, soccer-playing prankster who must leave her old life in Kansas, in order to accommodate her parents' new job as managers of a rundown Western theme park in the outskirts of Scottsdale, Arizona. Aven is prepared for the cacti and relentless heat. But what she isn’t prepared for? the awkward stares she gets from her eighth-grade classmates at Desert Ridge In Dusti Bowling’s warm and engaging MG debut, INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS, we meet thirteen-year-old Aven Green, a gregarious, soccer-playing prankster who must leave her old life in Kansas, in order to accommodate her parents' new job as managers of a rundown Western theme park in the outskirts of Scottsdale, Arizona. Aven is prepared for the cacti and relentless heat. But what she isn’t prepared for? the awkward stares she gets from her eighth-grade classmates at Desert Ridge Middle School. The reason for the stares is that Aven was born without arms, something that was never an issue at her old school, where she was easily accepted by her friends. But here in Arizona, it’s a whole new ballgame. Luckily, with the help of two new pals who are struggling with issues of their own (Connor, with Tourette’s, and Zion, with his weight), Aven learns that her light can shine just as brightly as anyone’s, if not more so. A wonderfully crafted, often funny, and extremely heartwarming debut. Highly recommended.
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  • Corabel Shofner
    January 1, 1970
    Can I just say that the title INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS completely charmed me. I had no idea what this book was about but I wanted to find out. And when I realized that the main character was born without arms it brought to mind my friend, one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known, who was born without arms or legs. At first you can't imagine how such a person gets anything done but after you are with them for 10 minutes it all seems so normal. I am so glad that D Can I just say that the title INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS completely charmed me. I had no idea what this book was about but I wanted to find out. And when I realized that the main character was born without arms it brought to mind my friend, one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known, who was born without arms or legs. At first you can't imagine how such a person gets anything done but after you are with them for 10 minutes it all seems so normal. I am so glad that Dusti wrote a book featuring this disability. Aven Green is rendered truthfully, in all her spunky and imaginative spirit. Her family has just moved to Arizona, where she begins again with people who are uncomfortable with her disability.Heartfelt and funny. Two things I need in a book. And this one delivers. Adventure and mystery in a run-down western theme park being solved by a trio of friends -- an armless girl and her sidekicks (who have challenges of their own.)
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  • Sally
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book. The setting's so original -- a rundown Western tourist trap in Arizona, which young Aven's forced to move to with her parents, who've been hired to run the place by a mysterious absentee owner. The plot's great -- Aven must start life anew, with struggles at school, making new friends, and a mystery to solve. But what made this book over-the-top special for me is Aven. I loved her voice! Quirky, warm, humorous, self-aware, Aven is a girl who's got it all together, and I was in I loved this book. The setting's so original -- a rundown Western tourist trap in Arizona, which young Aven's forced to move to with her parents, who've been hired to run the place by a mysterious absentee owner. The plot's great -- Aven must start life anew, with struggles at school, making new friends, and a mystery to solve. But what made this book over-the-top special for me is Aven. I loved her voice! Quirky, warm, humorous, self-aware, Aven is a girl who's got it all together, and I was in love with her by the end of the first page. She confronts head-on the issues one has to contend with, when one is born with no arms. This is handled by author Dusti Bowling with a perfect blend of matter-of-factness, humor, honesty, and charm. I loved this book, and highly recommend it to all young readers.
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  • KT
    January 1, 1970
    This book is enough to make me start looking at more Middle Grade. The voice was older MG, and it was fantastic, clever, funny, aware, and sometimes heart-wrenching. Aven Green will go down in history with the likes of Anne Shirley in terms of spunk, strength, voice, and likability. I appreciate that the story shone a light on diversity that you don't see often: the main character is armless and was adopted as a toddler and her best friend has Tourette's. It's obvious that the author did a ton o This book is enough to make me start looking at more Middle Grade. The voice was older MG, and it was fantastic, clever, funny, aware, and sometimes heart-wrenching. Aven Green will go down in history with the likes of Anne Shirley in terms of spunk, strength, voice, and likability. I appreciate that the story shone a light on diversity that you don't see often: the main character is armless and was adopted as a toddler and her best friend has Tourette's. It's obvious that the author did a ton of careful and thoughtful research, and these elements ring true throughout and enrich the story. What a beautiful, compelling, fun, and unforgettable story.
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  • Angie Hull
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Dusti Bowling for sending me an Advanced Reading Copy of this book. Aven is an example of true grit and has all the traits I want in my friends. Aven is a leader, a learner, and a true inspiration. I can't imagine what life would be like having to move in middle school, find new friends, find new passions, find a new life - and Aven does it flawlessly. She is truly a 'problem-solving ninja' (pg. 37).
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  • Cassie Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    I fell wholeheartedly in love with Aven,Conner, and Zion. They are the most beautiful characters who do not let disabilities define them because they have FULL ABILITY. There's suspense, friendship, family woes, perseverance, and fun.
  • Jessica Samuel
    January 1, 1970
    This is a phenomenal story about Aven, a girl who is born without arms. Her determination and can-do attitude is so admirable. This is a must read for students!!
  • Kiersi
    January 1, 1970
    I was given a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.Aven's strong, comic, good-natured voice is engrossing from the very first. Sure, she was born with no arms—but that hasn't stopped her from doing everything other kids can do. She plays soccer (and is pretty good at it), makes her own breakfast, and does her homework. It's never been a big deal that Aven has no arms, because everyone at her school has known her forever. Life is normal.That is, until Aven's parents get a job ma I was given a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.Aven's strong, comic, good-natured voice is engrossing from the very first. Sure, she was born with no arms—but that hasn't stopped her from doing everything other kids can do. She plays soccer (and is pretty good at it), makes her own breakfast, and does her homework. It's never been a big deal that Aven has no arms, because everyone at her school has known her forever. Life is normal.That is, until Aven's parents get a job managing a Western theme park in Arizona—requiring them all to pick up and move to a brand new place. A place that seems to be hiding something.Now Aven has to go to a new school where people have never seen a girl with no arms. She's afraid of eating with her feet in front of them, of being treated like a freak. Until she meets Connor, who has Tourette's, and finds a friend in her new home—and someone to help her solve the mystery of Stagecoach Pass.Readers will love Aven's funny and engaging voice from the first page. Miscommunications and fights with friends feel real, nuanced, and as complicated as they were when we were Aven's age. Bowling's prose is quick, clever, and funny, and Middle-Grade readers will be thrilled and enchanted by her depictions of life in the desert. INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS is as much a hilarious adventure-mystery as it is a love note to Arizona; to old, dusty things; to the stories that formed us and the stories that we'll make with them as we grow up. Aven's armlessness and Connor's Tourette's are handled with insight and intelligence.
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  • Rita (RitaBook)
    January 1, 1970
    I absolutely loved this book!! It was fun, entertaining, and had some great disability coverage! I enjoyed the mystery throughout the story line and the struggle of school and friendship. If you like the book Wonder then you will definitely enjoy this book!!:)
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  • Paul Mosier
    January 1, 1970
    This review comes from my nine year old daughter, Harmony, who read the book in two days."I loved the book. I couldn't put it down. It was funny and sad and happy."
  • Tory
    January 1, 1970
    What a fun, good-hearted book! Aven is a spunky heroine who doesn't let her lack of arms get her down. I laughed out loud as she described the prank-gone-wrong she'd played on her substitute teacher -- without spoiling it, *mannequin arms.* The mystery wasn't utterly predictable, but it wasn't a huge surprise, either. I also got some insight into what it would be like to live with Tourette's, and a little bit of empathy right along with it. A great, funny, quick read for kids or adults!
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  • Kelly deVos
    January 1, 1970
    This book will give you all the feels. It is the perfect blend of humor and heart and is perfect for MG audiences.It follows Aven Green, a bright, independent girl who happens to have been born without arms. Her family moves across the country so her father can take a new job running Stagecoach Pass, an old, broken down, Wild West theme park in Arizona. Like all new kids, Aven struggles to adjust to her surroundings and make friends. At school, she forges a bond with Connor, a boy struggling wit This book will give you all the feels. It is the perfect blend of humor and heart and is perfect for MG audiences.It follows Aven Green, a bright, independent girl who happens to have been born without arms. Her family moves across the country so her father can take a new job running Stagecoach Pass, an old, broken down, Wild West theme park in Arizona. Like all new kids, Aven struggles to adjust to her surroundings and make friends. At school, she forges a bond with Connor, a boy struggling with his own issues. Together, they discover a strange mystery at Stagecoach Pass. They search for clues even as they start to experience the first pangs of pre-teen romance.It's true that Aven Green does not have arms. But this is not a book that invites the reader to find inspiration at her expense. Aven's real challenge is that she's able to do all the things any other kid can do in a world that wants to classify her as less than conventionally abled people. Aven is a fully fleshed out, relatable girl on an adventure and out to learn the same lessons about family and friendship as all middle graders. On a personal note, the Arizona setting is so special to me. Having grown up in AZ, Stagecoach Pass really transports me back to places like Rawhide and Goldfield Mines. Bowling gets all the setting details exactly right and reading this book is almost like being a kid again.
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  • Mary Lee
    January 1, 1970
    Yes, just like most all of the other reviewers, 5 stars. Like many of them, I read this book in one day (one sitting, actually...TGISummer). It's that good. That engaging. Aven and Connor and Zion (and Aven's awesome parents) are characters who are that...real. I never felt sorry for Aven for a minute. Not having arms has never stopped her from doing a single thing. In fact, it has opened her heart to have empathy for others who are not handling their differences (boy-oh-boy does she get mad at Yes, just like most all of the other reviewers, 5 stars. Like many of them, I read this book in one day (one sitting, actually...TGISummer). It's that good. That engaging. Aven and Connor and Zion (and Aven's awesome parents) are characters who are that...real. I never felt sorry for Aven for a minute. Not having arms has never stopped her from doing a single thing. In fact, it has opened her heart to have empathy for others who are not handling their differences (boy-oh-boy does she get mad at Connor when he calls lack of arms a disability!). I'm hoping that readers will learn from Aven, be comfortable in their own skins, and let their lights shine as bright as the stars in Arizona.
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  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    I was fortunate to get my hands on an advanced copy of this novel. Friends, if you love realistic middle grade social issue stories (like I do), make space *right now* on your bookshelf for Aven Green. The main character is 'voicey' and funny, and her friends are the kind you hope your own kid will make. The mystery element and the unique setting kept me turning pages, even as my love for the characters was urging me to slow down and savor the story. Don't miss this one!
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  • Marilyn Smith
    January 1, 1970
    5 stars because it is THAT good. When you're born without arms you do almost everything with your feet. It takes A LOT L O N G E R but Aven always manages. She's smart tough and resourceful, she has to be, her parents always had her figure out how to do everyday activities.The looks and stares get old though, so Aven invents all sorts of wild storie about how she lost her arms. This is a great read with a light touch -
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  • E.A.T.
    January 1, 1970
    I absolutely enjoyed every word of this middle grade novel. The main character Aven has such a fun voice. I wish I could be her friend in real life. I loved the setting, the accurate information about Tourette syndrome (which I have myself), and the fun little mystery on the side. A powerful novel for all ages.
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  • Shaunterria
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book! I wasn't trying to love it, but I simply fell hard somewhere around chapter two. This is a must-add to library collections everywhere.
  • Vernon Area Public Library KIDS
    January 1, 1970
    Dusti Bowling has written a book that will totally change the way readers view people with disabilities. Aven, the main character, was born with no arms. Her parents have taught her to be self-sufficient, and the kids at school have known her forever. But when she and her parents have to relocate to Arizona, she faces many new challenges. Aven, and the two friends she makes along the way, will surprise and inspire readers with their humor and bravery. Highly recommended for students in grades 5- Dusti Bowling has written a book that will totally change the way readers view people with disabilities. Aven, the main character, was born with no arms. Her parents have taught her to be self-sufficient, and the kids at school have known her forever. But when she and her parents have to relocate to Arizona, she faces many new challenges. Aven, and the two friends she makes along the way, will surprise and inspire readers with their humor and bravery. Highly recommended for students in grades 5-8 who like realistic fiction.Reviewed by Carol Kaner, Youth and School Services, Vernon Area Public Library
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  • Shirley Eiswerth
    January 1, 1970
    I read this in a few hours, I absolutely loved it! I haven't read Wonder, and I've been wanting to, and this was compared to it, so decided to give it a try.... I loved the story, the characters and the life lessons that's in there for kids as well as adults.... I recommend anyone who loves a good story and loves a feel good book to read this!
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    I can't wait to add this one to my classroom library. This book has so many things that I am excited to share with my students. I love Aven, Connor and Zion's stories.
  • YAYOMG
    January 1, 1970
    Is it even possible to love a book this much? 😍
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