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Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head

Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head

5.0 6
by Nancy Viau

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Ten-year-old Samantha Hansen is a mad scientist. But not the crazy kind—she doesn’t blow stuff up or mix potions or dissect bugs. She just loves science—especially rocks—and figuring out how the world around her works. But there are some things there just isn’t a scientific answer for. Like, why can’t her bossy big sister keep her


Ten-year-old Samantha Hansen is a mad scientist. But not the crazy kind—she doesn’t blow stuff up or mix potions or dissect bugs. She just loves science—especially rocks—and figuring out how the world around her works. But there are some things there just isn’t a scientific answer for. Like, why can’t her bossy big sister keep her hands off Sam’s rock collection? And why can’t Sam control her temper? There are some bigger questions, too, like why did her father have to die? And why won’t her mom talk about him anymore?

When Sam’s mom announces a family trip to the Grand Canyon, it’s a dream come true. But it’s also a challenge: If Sam can’t learn to calm down and ignore her irritating sister, she’s going to miss her chance to see one of the world’s biggest rocks and maybe find the answers to some of her questions.

Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head is a hilarious and touching debut that introduces an exuberant new character who studies the world around her as she discovers what is in her own heart.

F&P level: S

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 3-6

Samantha Hansen loves studying rocks, so when her mother announces that she is taking Sam and her 15-year-old sister on a vacation to the Grand Canyon, the fourth grader is in heaven. First, though, Sam has to learn to control her temper-not an easy task when her big sister seems to delight in provoking her, and when a classmate taunts her at recess and causes her to end up in the principal's office. Sam's mother comes close to canceling, and it is only Sam's redoubled efforts to count to 10 when she knows that she is about to lose control that enable the plans to go forward. During the trip, Sam discovers more about the death of her father when she was younger, and she and her sister learn to appreciate one another a little more in spite of the ongoing sibling squabbling. Overall, Sam is an engaging and realistically drawn protagonist, although some of her mannerisms are a little too reminiscent of Junie B. Jones and what works for a first grader isn't as appealing in a fourth grader. Nonetheless, Sam's love of science is refreshing, and Viau does a nice job of incorporating information about the Grand Canyon and the study of geology into the story line. Readers will easily relate to Sam as she tries to make sense of the world around her.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

Kirkus Reviews
Girl readers who are regretfully leaving the Amber Brown series or are about to graduate from the school of Junie B. Jones might be happy to meet Sam Hansen, fourth grader and rock enthusiast. Sam shares many qualities with Junie B.-the obligatory spunk, a chattily ingenuous voice-but her passion for science distinguishes her from other franchise heroines. Supporting characters are typical: an odd, greeting-card-writing widowed mother, a cliched, text-messaging older sister and a best friend who lives next door. This rather plotless first effort gains some traction well past the middle, when the all-female family vacations at that geologist's paradise, the Grand Canyon. Sam is a likable character, but the narrative is not particularly nuanced or humorous; moreover, her anger-management issue is overdone and eventually grows tiresome. But for those young readers who are not quite ready for Ramona and long for more Junie B., this might be the prescription for transition. (Fiction. 8-10)

Product Details

Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)
590L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Nancy Viau has written stories for numerous children’s magazines, including Highlights and Ladybug. This is her debut novel. She lives in Mullica Hill, New Jersey.

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5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Emma_Sands More than 1 year ago
This funny and touching book will appeal to all middle grade readers. Sam is fun and sassy with true heart and her voice is genuine. All readers will be able to relate to her family struggles and the creative ways she deals with things. A well written, worthwhile read.
walkwrite More than 1 year ago
If you¿re tired of stale, moping characters, and too-sugary-sweet storylines in your middle grade novels, then you have to check out this book. Finally, there¿s a girl whose hilarious imperfections will keep you laughing all the way through the story. With a sharp wit and a short temper, Samantha Hansen isn¿t afraid to speak up for herself.

But if she can¿t learn to bite her tongue, Sam¿s mom won¿t take her to the Grand Canyon for a rock-lover¿s dream vacation. And Sam loves rocks. She¿s gaga for rocks. And lists, too. It¿s all part of the love of science Sam inherited from her dad who died years earlier. As Sam searches for information about her father, a touching storyline emerges which Viau has deftly woven in, adding depth and heart to this otherwise adorable book.

With sassy humor and a winning character coupled with a high-stakes plot and great science facts, there¿s so much to love in this book. SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD is ¿ab-so-lutely¿ hysterical, and I hope there's more to come from Viau and Sam!
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Ten-year-old Samantha Hansen loves rocks. And bugs. And fossils. She keeps an organized notebook filled with lists about her favorite rocks, the rocks she hopes to find, what she knows about planets, butterflies, and anything else related to science. She also makes lists like why she'd trade in Jen, her older sister, for a turtle.

Samantha's good at science. Jen is good at getting her sister in trouble. She messes with Samantha's rock collection, but it's Samantha who gets in trouble for yelling. Jen plays her music much too loudly for a hard-working, conscientious scientist, and when Samantha very nicely asks her to turn it down, she refuses. So, again, Samantha's mom tells Samantha to count to ten to avoid losing her temper. Jen gets away with everything and Samantha's always the one in trouble.

When Mom announces plans for a scientist's dream vacation to the Grand Canyon, Samantha knows she'll have to learn to control her temper or Mom will decide she can't go. But when Richard Frey says she has rocks in her head, and trips her on purpose, Samantha loses it and gets sent home from school for kicking him back. She knows she'll have to plan something big so her mom will still let her go to the Grand Canyon. But she'll need Jen's help.

SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD by Nancy Viau is a delightful story. Samantha is full of energy and is on a quest to learn everything scientific. But on her trip to the Grand Canyon, she learns more than facts about rocks and fossils. Before she returns home, she'll find a caring sister, discover a proud mother, and learn more about her list-making dad whom she doesn't remember. And as a reader, don't be surprised if you learn a little bit of science before you turn the last page. This is a terrific read for any 8-12 year old.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I got my hands on a copy of this book, and I think it's awesome! Sam is a hilarious character, and since she narrates the book, the laughs keep coming. I also enjoyed the progression of her struggle with her temper and loved the cool science facts. There's something for every reader in this book. I hope to see more of Samantha Hansen in the future!