Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus
Written by Dusti Bowling
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 life takes an unexpected turn when she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability, and they discover a room at Stagecoach Pass that holds bigger secrets than Aven ever could have imagined. It’s hard to solve a mystery, help a friend, and face your worst fears. But Aven’s about to discover she can do it all . . . even without arms.
Primary Source Pairing:
Aven is a good writer, a soccer player, a kind friend, and a creative problem solver. She is all of these things and not having arms has nothing to do with it. For this primary source pairing, invite students to watch a YouTube video about Sophi – another girl who was born without arms and make connections to their struggles and celebrations.
Questions for Discussion:
- What do you notice about Sophi in the video?
- What do Sophi and Aven have in common?
- Use textual evidence to make a connection with a part of Aven’s story in Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus with something you watched in the video about Sophi.
- What can we learn from Aven and Sophi’s stories?
Book Cover and Summary: Follett
“Incredible Seven-Year-Old Uses Her Feet As Hands” video: YouTube