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Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

(Aven Green #1)

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  14,809 ratings  ·  2,407 reviews
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 li
Hardcover, 262 pages
Published September 5th 2017 by Sterling Children's Books
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Dusti Bowling I'm happy to share that there will be a sequel releasing in 2019! Thanks for asking!…moreI'm happy to share that there will be a sequel releasing in 2019! Thanks for asking!(less)

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Average rating 4.32  · 
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 ·  14,809 ratings  ·  2,407 reviews

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Dusti Bowling
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Of course I give this fantastic piece of amazing literature five stars. I wrote the darn thing!
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Continuing my Project Learning English by myself through children's books. Scribd text + audiobook.

Excerptions: "When I was little, a kid pointed at me on the playground and shouted, “Her arms fell off!” then ran away screaming in terror to his mom, who had to cuddle him on her lap and rub his head for like ten minutes to get him to calm down. I think, up until then, I hadn’t thought about the idea that my arms must have actually fallen off at some point in my life. I had never really thought a
Rachel Reads Ravenously
3.5 stars

Great book for middle graders about kids with disabilities, I learned a lot about Tourette's while reading this. Mostly giving it a 3 because I lost interest halfway through.

I really do hope people read this and realize all human beings should be treated with kindness and respect. No matter what they look like or the odd things they may do.

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3.5 stars from me, 5+ stars from the kid. Listen to HER!

What? This lover of contemporary and literary fiction reading another kid’s book? Yep, strange but true. I babysit a 10-year-old and about a year ago I talked her into letting me read aloud to her. I’m pretty tricky, you must admit—what could be better than getting paid to read? Both of us just love this deal. I get a reading fix, she gets school credit while doing crafts. Yum yum, both of us happy. Who knew I had it in me to read books for
Ms. Yingling
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Aven 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
The Reading Countess
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 ...more
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade-ya
Delightful characters, setting, and story of identity, fearlessness, and friendship.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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!!! ...more
Jen Petro-Roy
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Compulsively readable, while also dealing with more than one difficult topic with grace and humor.
Caitlin 🍅Tomato Queen🍅 Theroux
I have seen a few people in these reviews stop and take the time to say how much they disliked this book and the way it deals with disabilities. It's too "cute" or "cuddly" or it's not "hard" or "real" enough. Let me--a woman with Tourette's, OCD, ADHD, depression, anxiety, and insomnia--tell you why I appreciated that it wasn't "real" enough.

There will come books that say in detail how hard it is to adjust to a life where you constantly hurt yourself by ticcing. We will have books someday, espe
Scottsdale Public Library
What could be worse than moving to a new state in 8th grade? How about to the Valley of the Sun, where temperatures reach over 110 in the summer?
Well, Aven Green will tell you that while the summers are scorchers, meeting new classmates is worse! Why? Because Aven was born without arms. Aven must weather her new school, make new friends, learn how to deal with the heat, and a llama named Spaghetti. As Aven begins to explore the western theme park her parents now run, she stumbles into a mystery
Ms. B
Oct 19, 2019 rated it liked it
10/15/20 Read to the end for my update.
10/19/19 3.5 stars. (view spoiler) Aven is the new girl in town. She and her family moved from Kansas to Arizona to manage a western themed amusement park. Despite not having arms, Aven was accepted and well-liked at her previous school. Now Aven is starting 7th grade, what will her classmates at her new school think of the 'unarmed' girl? Will she make any friends (view spoiler)
Corabel Shofner
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: swanky-17s
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 ...more
Vernon Area Public Library KIDS
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- ...more
mindful.librarian ☀️
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
Fabulous middle grade about acceptance, diversity, and TRYING things. I will be recommending this to my whole staff as an amazing choice for a read aloud as we focus on growth mindset. Highly recommended for fans of Wonder.

I purchased a copy of this book for my library and also received a copy of this book from WAM Book Bundle as one of their Instagram reps. I will be donating the second copy to my other library.
Michele Knott
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.
Aug 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephanie Fitzgerald
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Middle graders and teachers; anyone who has ever felt inadequate! Aven is awesome!
Recommended to Stephanie by: Goodreads
(Opening line)-"When I was little, a kid pointed at me on the playground and shouted Her arms fell off!, then ran screaming to his mom"...
Aven has lived for thirteen years with no arms, and it hasn't stopped her from doing much of anything! When her parents take a job in Arizona running a Western-style theme park, Aven finds it difficult to make new people look past her missing limbs to see what she's capable of.
When I finished this book, I felt amazed at all that Aven was able to accomplish! Th
Mar 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
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 ...more
Mallory Rethlake
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE HOW EVERYONE SUPPORTS EVERYONE. The way Aven treats everyone is amazing, even thought she does not have a arm she is so supported and don't think of herself only others ...more
Told in a funny and light-hearted tone, the story takes you to the life of a 13 years old girl who was raised that she is not less capable than any other girl her age.
"Minh" Best uses her feet to paint still-life or abstract imagery.

What i really admired about Aven other than her courage , is her acceptance and understanding to the curious nature of people that forces them to look at what they are not used to see, and her knowing the difference between NORMAL ACCIDENTAL looks and MEAN AND RU
Kellee Moye
Full review with teaching tools:

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
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Angie Hull
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grades
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). ...more
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
My husband randomly picked this book out from the library for a reading challenge I needed to complete....I'm so glad he found it!
This story was hilarious, and cute and motivational. The movie theater part with Conner had me crying I had to put the book down for a bit. I read this in one sitting, I did not want to put it down.
I need to own this book!
Cassie Thomas
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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!!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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DUSTI BOWLING grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, where, as her family will tell you, she always had her nose in a book. She released her first middle grade novel in 2017 and hasn't stopped writing since.

Dusti's books have won the Reading the West Award, the Sakura Medal, a Golden Kite Honor, the Silver Nautilus Award, and have been nominated for a Cybil and over twenty state awards. Her books are Jun

Other books in the series

Aven Green (2 books)
  • Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus

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  Tami Charles is a former teacher and the author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made...
44 likes · 65 comments
“I think Connor would be the last person to label you like that. You shouldn't get so offended if someone calls you disabled, Aven. You DO have extra challenges that others don't have. It DOES take you longer to do most tasks. Your movements ARE limited. There's a big difference between saying you're disabled and saying you're incapable.” 5 likes
“I’m sure most people who see me feel sorry for me at first. I think their first thought is probably something about how terrible it must be to not have arms. Maybe they imagine me helplessly being carried around by my mom everywhere in a giant baby backpack and my poor parents having to brush my teeth and feed me through a tube and change my diapers and whatever. What a lot of people don’t realize, though, is there are a lot of fantastic things about not having arms.” 1 likes
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