The Natural Genius of Ants by Betty Culley: Review, Giveaway, & Two Truths and a Lie Guest Post!

Posted May 12, 2022 by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction in Author Guest Post, Giveaways (Ended), Reviews / 7 Comments

The Natural Genius of Ants by Betty Culley: Review, Giveaway, & Two Truths and a Lie Guest Post!

The Natural Genius of Ants by Betty Culley: Review, Giveaway, & Two Truths and a Lie Guest Post!The Natural Genius of Ants by Betty Culley
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on May 10, 2022
Genres: Contemporary, Middle Grade
Pages: 240
Source: The Author
My rating:
4 Stars


A summer ant farm grows into a learning experience for the entire family in this lyrical coming-of-age story from the award-winning author of Down to Earth.


Harvard is used to his father coming home from the hospital and telling him about all the babies he helped. But since he made the mistake at work, Dad has been quieter than usual. And now he is taking Harvard and his little brother, Roger, to Kettle Hole, Maine, for the summer. Harvard hopes this trip isn't another mistake.

In the small town where he grew up, Dad seems more himself. Especially once the family decides to start an ant farm--just like Dad had as a kid! But when the mail-order ants are D.O.A., Harvard doesn't want Dad to experience any more sadness. Luckily, his new friend Neveah has the brilliant idea to use the ants crawling around the kitchen instead. But these insects don't come with directions. So the kids have a lot to learn--about the ants, each other, and how to forgive ourselves when things go wrong.

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The Natural Genius of Ants is a heartwarming story of friendship and learning to forgive yourself, even in what may seem like unforgivable circumstances. Ever since Harvard’s dad made a mistake at work, he hasn’t been the same. Harvard has always been told that anyone can make a mistake, but his dad is a doctor, so his mistakes have dire consequences. Harvard’s dad decides to go home to the town he grew up in. While there, Harvard makes a new friend in Nevaeh, a girl who’s been healing from a tragedy of her own since her mother died. Together, they all put together an ant farm, and Harvard is excited when his dad seems to finally show signs of happiness. Harvard thinks he can’t let anything go wrong with the ant farm, so he’s upset when the ants show up dead. He thinks the best solution is to replace the ants with ones from the house.

The story centers on dealing with death and grief, of course, but it also touches on poverty. Nevaeh’s father is overwhelmed with medical bills after her mother’s death, and they avoid necessary medical care because they don’t have insurance. The issue was handled well and will help kids realize that anyone can fall on hard times, and sometimes accepting help is the only way to stay afloat. Harvard’s care and concern for his father and his attempts to help him are especially poignant. You can’t help but hope right along with him that his father can find some peace. But, don’t worry, Harvard’s little brother’s antics, fun facts about ants, and the sweet friendship between Harvard and Nevaeh help lighten the overall tone of the book so kids don’t get bogged down with sadness. I definitely recommend this book to kids who are dealing with difficult circumstances of any kind.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the author via Media Masters Publicity for an honest review. No compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


Two Truths and a Lie

with Betty Culley

Two truths and a lie about Betty:

  1. Betty lived without running water for fifteen years
  2. Betty worked as a circus clown the summer after college
  3. Betty was an exchange student in Sweden and lived on a farm that had 2,000 pigs

Two truths and a lie about The Natural Genius of Ants:

  1. The Natural Genius of Ants was the original title
  2. There are drawings of ants and tunnels in the beginning of each chapter
  3. The book is dedicated to a very special ant

Two truths and a lie about Harvard:

  1. Harvard is named after his grandfather
  2. Harvard accidentally eats a carpenter ant
  3. Harvard thinks there’s treasure hidden high up in a tree.

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Two truths and a lie about Betty:

Answer: B. Betty did use a handpump to get her water for many years. Her appreciation for a good and easy water system was part of the inspiration for her first middle-grade novel Down to Earth, about a boy who comes from a family of water dowsers and well drillers. When she was fifteen, Betty lived on a farm in Sweden for a year but she’s never worked in a circus!

Two truths and a lie about The Natural Genius of Ants:

Answer: C. The book is dedicated to my husband Denis, who is very supportive of my writing, and of the many ant farms I kept during the writing of the novel. Sometimes titles get changed during the life of a book, so I was happy to keep my original title. And I love the design of ants and tunnels in the beginning of the chapters.

Two truths and a lie about Harvard:

Answer: C.  Harvard gets to know a lot about carpenter ants, including the fact that they love to eat honey and insects, but he never eats one. He does figure out what’s going on with the trees!


About the Author

Betty Culley’s debut novel in verse Three Things I Know Are True, was a Kids’ Indie Next List Top Ten Pick, an ALA-YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominee, and the 2021 Maine Literary Book Award Winner for Young People’s Literature. Her first middle-grade novel Down to Earth was inspired by her fascination with meteorites, voyagers from another place and time. She’s an RN who worked as an obstetrics nurse and as a pediatric home hospice nurse. She lives in central Maine, where the rivers run through the small towns.


 

Author Links:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


  • One (1) winner will receive a finished copy of The Natural Genius of Ants, as well as a copy of Betty’s first middle grade novel Down to Earth and a bookmark!
  • US/Can only
  • Ends 5/22 at 11:59pm ET
  • Enter via the Rafflecopter below
  • Visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!

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Tour Schedule:

Blog Tour Schedule:

May 9th YA Book Nerd

May 10th Mrs. Book Dragon

May 11th Pragmatic Mom

May 12th Feed Your Fiction Addiction

May 13th From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors

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7 responses to “The Natural Genius of Ants by Betty Culley: Review, Giveaway, & Two Truths and a Lie Guest Post!

  1. I want to read this books.
    I am so sorry for all the people who made me feel bad, but I didn’t know when you would come back and thank You.”

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