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The Natural Genius of Ants — Review

Thought for the Day:

“My advice is not to wait to be struck by an idea. If you’re a writer, you sit down and damn well decide to have an idea.”
~ Andy Rooney ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

There are a lot of word pairs that give writers fits. I see these mistakes all the time, and I make some of them as well. I saw one in a Neil Gaiman book this week and wondered how it got past all the editors. HERE Kathy Steinemann has a great post on Confusing Word Pairs.

In search of just the right character? Nicolas C. Rossis has a Master List of Fictional Characters on his blog HERE that might be helpful to you.

Writing a novel is hard. Writing scenes in a novel is hard. But this can all be a bit easier if you break things into bite-size pieces as Janice Hardy suggests HERE in her blog post, Take the Work Out of Writing Scenes.

I was saddened by the death of Queen Elizabeth II this week. She was quite an amazing woman. She holds a special place in my heart because my very first published work was about her. Most people know that she was an ambulance driver during World War II, but it is not as well known that she was also a mechanic at that time. A critique partner mentioned that to me, and I couldn’t let go of it. When he told me he had no interest in writing about it, I wrote an article about it that was picked up by Highlights and ran in the March 2013 issue. (If you can’t find that issue and want to read the article, I could send you a PDF.) So, thank you, QEII, for starting me on my writing success. Rest in Peace.

Last week I offered an ARC of Every Missing Piece by Melanie Conklin (who was kind enough to visit the post and leave some replies) to one of you. This week’s winner is Carol Baldwin. Congratulations, Carol! If you don’t know Carol, she is a writer and teacher of writing from North Carolina. You can learn more about her at her site HERE. Her blog is well worth your time. Carol, I will get your book out to you soon.

Last spring I read and LOVED a book called Down to Earth by Betty Culley. You can read my review HERE. When I saw that she had another book out that was available for review from the San Francisco Book Review, I requested it immediately. Her new book is The Natural Genius of Ants. I had read about it on other blogs and knew I would like it. I did. Here is the review that I wrote for SFBR.

Harvard’s dad, a doctor, made a mistake and a baby died. It has been really hard. Dad isn’t working and decides to take Harvard and his little brother, Roger, to Dad’s childhood hometown for the summer. They rent a house from a good friend of Dad’s, and Harvard and the friend’s daughter, Nevaeh, become fast friends. Dad thinks making an ant farm will be a fun project, so they build one, which Harvard stocks with native ants when the mail-order ones arrive dead. Harvard really wants Dad to be happy again and go back to doctoring, so he decides to write a letter to the mother of the baby who died, but is it the right thing to do?

Betty Culley

Betty Culley has written a rich, complex story with characters who will grab readers’ hearts and keep them turning pages all the way through. Although the story deals with death and grief, Culley has enough humor and lightness in the characters and story to keep anything from getting bogged down in the sadness. The writing is simply gorgeous, and the first-person narration by ten-year-old Harvard carries the story perfectly. Do not miss this wonderful book.

Please don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.

27 thoughts on “The Natural Genius of Ants — Review”

  1. I loved – LOVED!!! – the Natural Genius of Ants. Keeping my copy till the covers rot off! I love it when authors weave science into their stories. But ants in particular, because I spent a month with harvester ants offering them seeds of different sizes …

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really enjoyed this book. The characters and learning about ants pulled me in from the get go.
    Please do send me a PDF when time allows. The queen was such an iconic character in England’s history and for the world.
    Thoroughly enjoyed the links this week. I had missed the Janice Hardy piece on scenes so this one was especially worthwhile. Thanks for once again being a part of MMGM!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, my! I was immediately interested in this book. A ten-year-old boy who wants his dad to be happy again. It feels like this could be a real tear-jerker, though maybe the writer didn’t go that route. Guess I’ll just have to find out myself.

    By the way, Forensics for Kids came in the mail today. As I mentioned, I’m planning on passing this on to one of my students in her student teaching year. Thanks so much, Rosi!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a fascinating story about grief and Harvard’s attempts to do something right. You certainly left us with a cliffhanger in your review. Means I need to read the book!

    I was hoping someone might mention Queen Elizabeth today! The fact that she worked up until the end, speaks volumes about her selflessness and devotion to service. I knew she drove and ambulance and vaguely remember something about mechanics. What couldn’t the woman do! Cool that you published an article in Highlights.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. From your review this sounds fabulous, will need to check it out. I enjoyed reading how Queen Elizabeth inspired you and learning more about her life. Hope you have a lovely rest of your week.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My biggest problem with reading your blog is that I almost ALWAYS want to read the book you’re talking about. This is no exception.

    I actually read your article in Highlights and loved it. I had even saved the magazine, but it got lost when I moved and I haven’t found it. So, PLEASE send me a PDF. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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