Monday, September 30, 2019

Review: Something Is Bugging Samantha Hansen by Nancy Viau

by Nancy Viau
Schiffer Publishing
Middle Grade Contemporary
184 pages

Ten-year-old Samantha Hansen loves science! In the beginning of fourth grade, she never let a moment go by without talking about rocks. Now she's back with a new obsession: insects! Upon learning that the local apiary is for sale, she goes into action to save the honey bees. Will her someday boyfriend Todd or her best friend Kelli be part of her plan? Will That Kid Richard get in the way? Sam's lists of insect facts and funny thoughts highlight her quest to keep the bees in the community, the challenges she faces at school, and her ongoing struggle with her temper. Join Samantha as she looks to science for answers and does her part to change the world.


Entomology meets the difficulties of being in the fourth grade in this tale about a girl, who can change things if she tries.

Sam takes to the new topic in their science class like a bee to honey. When she discovers that a local bee farmer, one that her class was supposed to visit, is selling his farm to a house developer, she's not sure what to do. But she knows she has to do something. Add trouble with her best friend thanks to a boy, a stray dog, a difficult older sister, and Sam's own temper issues, and she's in for quite the experience.

Especially younger middle graders (ages 8 through 10) are going to enjoy this tale. Sam is a spunky girl who finds herself in a couple of sticky situations, ones she's not sure how to handle. This uncertainty and the topics chosen fit very well to the age group and are easy for middle graders to identify with. There's a dash of first love and the beginning steps to the problems that can cause, as well as the troubles which shake up things on the friendship front for girls this age. And all of this is handled with believable answers and in a wholesome way.

The addition of entomology, and especially bees, adds a nice, science direction. Sam is a list girl, and this gives the reader the opportunity to learn more about this insect. This information flows into the rest of the tale smoothly and never comes across as preachy.

Sam was a little hard for me to warm up to. She has some temper issues (which the author does solve in a clever way by the end of the book). This and her pushy attitude made her hard to like. Still, the story is cute and well written. And the relationship to her mother and grandfather are a treat.

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