Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head

Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head
by Nancy Viau
Publisher: Abrams/Amulet Books, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8109-7299-5
For ages: 8 and up


Life isn’t easy for 10-year-old Sam whose temper sometimes gets her into trouble. A trip to the Grand Canyon changes everything for this funny, rock-loving scientist for she discovers more than awesome scenery, fossils, and “stinky burros”—she finds a family connection that changes her forever.

The book has a tie-in to elementary school science curriculum, particularly units on rocks and minerals. It can also be used to reinforce lessons on general Earth science, the proper use of fractions, and the geography of the southwest. Since Samantha often explodes like “a loud volcano,” her actions are perfect for character education discussions involving self-control, self-concept, sibling rivalry, and empathy.


“Sam is an engaging and realistically drawn protagonist. Sam’s love of science is refreshing, and Viau does a nice job of incorporating information about the Grand Canyon and the study of geology into the story line. Readers will easily relate to Sam as she tries to make sense of the world around her.” ~ School Library Journal 

“Sam shares many qualities with Junie B.—the obligatory spunk, a chattily ingenuous voice—but her passion for science distinguishes her from other franchise heroines.” ~ Kirkus Reviews 

“Samantha’s fractions, her temper, her love of rocks, and her mother’s cakes all add up to create a sweet and funny read.” ~ Ingrid Law, author of Savvy, a 2009 Newbery Honor Book

Reading Guide/Activities

A FREE Teacher’s Guide for this title can be found on

About the Author

Nancy Viau is the author of Look What I Can Do! (Picture Book/Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013), Storm Song (Picture Book/Two Lions, 2013), City Street Beat (Picture Book, Albert Whitman & Co., 2014), and Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head (Middle-Grade/Abrams/Amulet Books, 2008). Her stories, poems, and activities appear in Highlights, Highlights High Five, Ladybug, Babybug, Hopscotch for Girls, and many other magazines. She has written dozens of Op-Ed essays for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and has been a summer columnist for that newspaper. Her work has been anthologized in Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Writing Group Book, and The Ultimate Mom.

Nancy has been a featured speaker at writing conferences; she has appeared on numerous panels, and has been interviewed on CN8’s Your Morning Show, WCMC Radio, and on various blogs. She is a member of The Authors Guild, The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and The KidLit Authors Club, a group she started that consists of children’s book authors who bring interactive book parties to bookstores, libraries, festivals, and conferences. She is also part of an organization called Young Writers’ Day. This organization sponsors authors, illustrators, playwrights, storytellers, and song writers who present low cost programs in suburban Philadelphia classrooms.

Nancy lives in rural New Jersey with her family and one hyperactive bunny. When not glued to her computer writing or running defense for her four children, she skips out of town in search of adventure and inspiration.
Author’s website

School Visit Information

Nancy has ten years experience presenting writing workshops and assembly programs to children across the country. Whether leading hands-on writing activities in the classroom or speaking to large groups, she shares her journey to publication and educates students about the writing process using a ton of energy sprinkled with humor and enthusiasm. Nancy is also available for book discussions and interviews via Skype. Children leave her presentations inspired and ready to write. For information on programming, fees, and availability, please visit Nancy’s website.

“Nancy visited two schools and met with students from first through sixth grades. She tailored her presentation for the different grade levels, discussing her life, how she does her writing, and the elements of a great story, intertwining the three into a seamless and entertaining hour. The students were completely engaged and enthusiastic. In the weeks since Nancy’s visit, teachers have commented that Nancy’s writing tips were right on target. I highly recommend Nancy Viau!” ~ Karen DeFrank, District Librarian, Glassboro, NJ

“There has been such a great response to the 6-week Creative Writing Club. Twenty-five kids come in excited and ready to go and don’t want to leave when the hour is up. Nancy does a wonderful job engaging them in the weekly topics and encouraging them to foster their creativity. I could not be happier with the results of this program. We’re going to keep the writing going by starting a club that meets monthly.”
~ Kellie J. Large, Head Children’s Librarian, Cape May County Library, NJ