Sunday, August 2, 2015

Arc Review: The Trouble with Ants by Claudia Mills

The Trouble with Ants by Claudia Mills. Illustrated by Katie Kath. The Nora Notebooks #1. 164 p. Random House Children's Books, September 22, 2015. 9780385391610. (Arc courtesy of Blue Slip Media)

Yay for Nora! Ten-year-old Nora Alpers is self-possessed, observant, practical and mad about science - ants in particular. Ever since she read about an eleven-year-old who earned a world record as the youngest ever to publish a science article, Nora has been thinking about beating that record. She's the daughter of two scientists. She keeps a notebook containing the observations she makes about her ant farm. She knows tons of facts about ants and she's innately curious and willing to test hypotheses. 

She's also a (hilariously) keen observer of human behavior. She has a couple of friends who are boys but would never dream of sitting with them at lunch at school since that's just not done. She notes that there are corollaries in nature where females spend time away from males. She also notes the similarities between queen bee Emma's shrieking responses to alpha male, Dunk's posturing and animal mating rituals. She's wise enough to keep these observations to herself and makes sure she displays enough courtesy and interest in these goings on to maintain cordial relations with her classmates. What an endearing character! 

This engaging upper-elementary/ middle grade novel features not only tons of ant facts and a a girl-scientist, but authentic fourth grade drama, dialogue and social situations. There's plenty of humor here and the spot art nicely illustrates a variety of the more humorous scenes. Additionally, each chapter ends with a scrap of Nora's notebook entries brimming with ant facts.

This is a series starter that is sure to please. Teachers will love the STEM that's embedded in the story and their students will enjoy reading a fun story. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for the generous review, Brenda. Writers like me are so grateful to bloggers like you who foster community among fellow book lovers.