Something is Bugging Samantha Hansen
Written by Nancy Viau
Illustrated by illustrator Julia Mills
Schiffer Kids 9//2019
184 pages Ages 8—12
Genre: Children’s Picture Book, Fiction
Themes: Insects, Bee Farms, Friendship
Synopsis: 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. (from jacket flap)
It’s been months since our Grand Canyon trip. I miss that place. I miss the rainbow plateaus, the huge chunks of sedimentary rock, and the fossils. That Grand Canyon trip was a dream come true for a scientist like me. But my dream turned into a nightmare when I found out that my best friend, Kelli, tried to steal my future boyfriend!
Why I like this book—With this second book in the Samantha Hansen series, Samantha changes her main interest—her scientific obsession—from rocks to insects. Ask her anything about bugs and Samantha is likely to know the answer. Her fourth grade class is going on a field trip to a bee farm, and Samantha can hardly contain herself. But a lot has changed since her last book, Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head. Samantha needs a best friend and a new future boyfriend, and when the local apiary goes up for sale, she decides she will save the bees.
That Kid Todd continues to baffle Samantha. He makes sarcastic remarks to her, pinches her as she walks by, and grins at her when the subject calls for a frown and frowns when he should grin. All told, That Kid Todd is a conundrum; a conundrum with cute dimples. Overall, Samantha’s biggest problems may be her feet. The two seem to get her in a lot of trouble with grown-ups.
I really enjoyed reading Something is Bugging Samantha Hansen. Samantha is every bit a ten-years-old. Her interest in boys has not yet fully blossomed. Dating is a lot of work, she’ll tell you. I like how Samantha copes with things that bother or confuse her by making a list. Her lists include FAVORITE GROUPS OF NON-HUMANS, WHY TODD KENSINGTON WILL NEVER BE MY FUTURE BOYFRIEND, and PHASES OF THE MOON (an educational list). She learns to control her anger by counting to ten, often in Spanish, rather than stomping her feet when her anger flows from her head to a foot.
Girls will love Samantha, who is more intelligent and insightful than most kids her age. Nancy Viau’s voice is perfect for Samantha whether Sam is whining, forgetting to raise a hand before speaking in class, or excited to see a bee farm. She has ways of endearing you with her speech. Samantha is afraid the “bee farm” will become a “house farm” and when she needs advice from her high-school age sister, Jen, Samantha hopes to find “a couple of minutes when her face looks friendly.”
Something is Bugging Samantha Hansen carries heart, humor, and a healthy dose of age-appropriate, likable characters. The fourth grade class still contains all the sweetness of childhood with the edginess and crankiness of teens seeping in through the edges. Even That Kid Richard, whom Samantha labeled a bully, finds ways to be funny and sweet. In addition to the bee farm, dog rescues enters young Samantha’s life. Being dear to my heart, I love Samantha’s concern for dogs whether they have a home or roaming the street.
Of course, the biggest story line is the bee farm. Samantha organizes an impromptu “Bug Club” which quickly grows from three students to a parking lot of protesters. Unknown to Samantha, she has gotten through to an important person concerning honeybees and their importance to the community. I hope Samantha gets a book 3 in which to further entertain us. If you liked Junie B. or Ellie, Engineer you will love Something is Bugging Samantha Hansen.
But . . . The short chapters and the book’s total number of pages (184), reminds me more of a chapter book than a middle grade book. The school content could be shorter to make room for more about the bees and the apiary Samantha is trying to save (but those classroom scenes are some of the best).
One of My Favorite Lines: To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid. (Samantha’s fortune cookie)
Back Matter: The inside covers contain full-color pictures of different bees and some of the flowers they might pollinate.
Illustrations: Small grey-scale ]sketches sit atop the first page of each chapter. They give a hint of what is to follow.
Something is Bugging Samantha Hansen. Copyright © 2019 by Nancy Viau. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Julia Mills. Published by Schiffer Kids/Schiffer Publishing, Atglen PA.
Available at Amazon
Copyright © 2019 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved