Aven Green ­Sleuthing ­Machine

­Sterling. (Aven Green: Bk. 1). Apr. 2021. 128p. Tr $12.95. ISBN 9781454942214.
Gr 1-4–Bowling’s beloved “Life of a Cactus” protagonist returns in a new series of chapter books that capture her life as third grader. Aven Green is a smart, lively, confident white girl who happened to be born without arms, a congenital condition called amelia. For Aven, having no arms hasn’t stopped her from living life to the absolute max! Young readers will laugh aloud at Aven’s funny reactions to queries about what happened to her arms (they were not scrubbed off in the car wash, eaten by iguanas in the Galapagos, pulled off in a game of tug of war, or flattened by a steamroller). They will be intrigued by the practical skills she has perfected, using her feet to brush her teeth, comb her hair, eat mint chocolate chip ice cream, and write about all of the mysteries she has solved with her trusty magnifying glass and sleuthing kit. With no arms, Aven says all those extra cells went straight to her brain, making her extra smart and, in her own words, “a sleuthing machine” who has been solving cases for a really long time—practically a whole month! Bowling’s book features Perry’s engaging pencil illustrations, short five- to seven-page chapters, explanations of potentially unfamiliar terms such as brain cell and acronyms, and a list of Aven’s sleuthing words: culprit, alleged, hypothesis, and more. The author holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in education and infuses her writing with humor and empathy.
VERDICT This chapter book companion to Bowling’s well-loved middle grade series is a recommended purchase.

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