Monday, July 25, 2022

NOTHING IS LITTLE by Carmella Van Vleet -- a story about how little things can lead to big changes

I've been taking a bit of a summer break while I work on my own writing, but I'm so excited about this middle grade novel that I had to "take a break from my break"  to share it with you.

Why this book?

I’m so excited to feature this book by my friend, Carmella Van Vleet! This is the story of Felix, an eleven-year-old boy who may be the shortest boy in school but he has a big personality. 

Like many kids today, Felix has many things to deal with—he has Growth Hormone Deficiency for one. I was intrigued to learn more about this, because I hadn’t heard about it before. Felix’s mom and step-dad are having a new baby, too, which makes him curious about his biological dad, who he has never met. When Felix joins the Forensic Science Club at school, he hopes to get the tools and skills he needs to track down is biological dad. He also gets a cool nickname: Shortlock Holmes. Wow! Reading about this club made me wish I could go back in time and go to Felix’s school too. All of these elements make for a really engaging story. Did I mention there’s also a surprise twist?

This is a really fun read! I especially loved the way this story showed us how a kid learns to cope with some disappointments and also celebrates some of the fun things life can bring. If you enjoy this book, also read Carmella Van Vleet’s other middle grade novels about Eliza Bing—another very engaging character! [See my posts for more on these ones here: Eliza Bing is (Not) a Big Fat Quitter, Eliza Bing is (Not)a Star]

Connections: family, forensic science, being short, new baby, step-families, adoption issues


Social-Emotional Learning – One of the cool things about Felix is that he puts a positive spin on something other people might think is a negative. Make a list of all the ways that Felix finds his small size an advantage. Now, think of something about yourself that other people might think is a disadvantage. Make a list of all the positive things about your unique trait.

Reasoning & Problem-solving – Play the detective “grouping game” mentioned in the story in the classroom.  Have one person select a group of students based on a common characteristic (like the colour of their socks). Other students can work together to figure out the rule for making the groups.

Literacy – One of the activities Felix tries in the Forensic Science Club is to practice interviewing a crime science witness by paying attention to their emotions and body language. Work with a partner to practice interviewing skills: Person One tells a one-sentence story about something they did recently. Person Two asks questions to collect more details and information.

Literacy: Making inferences – Try this “Picture of the Day“ activity. Show students a picture of a scene. Have them make list of all the things they observe in the picture. Then have students make inferences about what they think, based on their observations (for this and more ideas for building reading comprehension skills check out the list at

More resources:

Locard’s Exchange Principle and Books, a guest post by Carmella Van Vleet, School Library Journal

Forensic science lesson plans for middle school from The Science Spot

Virtual Crime Lab tour 


Description from the publisher:

Eleven-year-old Felix likes being the smallest kid in school.

 At least he knows where he fits in. Plus his nickname, “Short-lock Holmes,” is perfect for someone who’s killing it in forensic science club. To Felix, Growth Hormone Deficiency is no big deal.

And then Felix learns that his biological dad was short, too. This one, tiny, itty-bitty piece of information opens up a massive hole in his life. Felix must find his father. He only has a few small clues to work from, but as Sherlock Holmes said, “To a great mind, nothing is little.”

The further Felix gets in his investigation, though, the more he starts to wonder: What if his dad doesn’t want to be found? And what if Felix’s family—his mom, his stepdad, the baby on the way—needs him right where he is?

Nothing is Little by Carmella Van Vleet was published by Holiday House in 2022.

For more wonderful middle grade books, check out Marvelous Middle Grade Monday over at Greg Pattridge's blog.


  1. Great sounding plot with an endearing MC. I'll be adding it to my future read list. Sorry to have missed you for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.

  2. This sounds like a terrific book. I am putting it high up on my TBR list. I think I will really like it. Thanks for the review.

  3. A member of my family has Growth Hormone Deficiency, and I think it's pretty rare, so nice to see it featuring! Sounds a good story, thanks for the review!


I love to hear your responses and thoughts! Your comments will appear after moderation (I’ve decided to enable moderation due to excessive spam).