Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head Book Poster Image
A fun young heroine reminiscent of Ramona Quimby.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Samantha learns how to control her temper and her mother works on helping her daughters cope with the loss of their father.

Violence & Scariness

Two girls get lost at the Grand Canyon, but they are found unharmed. A girl kicks a boy -- she says accidentally, he says on purpose.


Some name-calling and yelling among siblings and grade-school kids.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's not much to worry about in this novel. The family struggles with after-effects of the death of a parent and there is some sibling rivalry. There are also a couple of instances of boy-girl like typical of the age.

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What's the story?

Samantha Hansen is 10 years old and loves all things science, but she's especially wild about rocks. And when her mom announces a surprise trip to the Grand Canyon, Samantha can hardly believe her luck. The only problem is Samantha's mom makes her promise to control her temper -- a challenge for a headstrong girl with a lot going on. If her bossy big sister doesn't set her off, there are the kids teasing her at school, the pressure to finish her science experiments … and underlying it all, a sadness her whole family has to cope with after her father's death.

Is it any good?

It's easy to draw comparison between Ramona Quimby, the Beverly Cleary heroine, and Samantha Hansen in SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD. Both girls are fun, fearless, and funny with fussy big sisters. But that's where the comparisons end. Cleary's characters and family life have a transcendent sense of warmth that we don't get in author Nancy Viau's novel.

The family is quirky and they have some wonderful touching moments, but the storytelling doesn't elevate the book to the classic status of Cleary. Where it succeeds is in being a wonderful alternative for girls who aren't the typical marketed-to tween -- specifically the Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers fanbase. It's also a great opportunity to get girls excited about geology and science in general.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about spending more time together. Where has your family gone on vacation? What is your favorite activity to do together as a family? What new places would you like to explore as a family?

Book details

  • Author: Nancy Viau
  • Genre: Family Life
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Amulet Books
  • Publication date: September 1, 2008
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
  • Number of pages: 192
  • Last updated: June 19, 2019

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