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Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen

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Olivia Bean knows trivia. She watches Jeopardy! every night and usually beats at least one of the contestants. If she were better at geography, she would try out for the show’s kids’ week. Not only could she win bundles of money, she’d get to go to the taping in California, where her dad, who left two years ago and who Olivia misses like crazy, lives with his new famil Olivia Bean knows trivia. She watches Jeopardy! every night and usually beats at least one of the contestants. If she were better at geography, she would try out for the show’s kids’ week. Not only could she win bundles of money, she’d get to go to the taping in California, where her dad, who left two years ago and who Olivia misses like crazy, lives with his new family.   One day Olivia’s friend-turned-nemesis, Tucker, offers to help her bulk up her geography knowledge. Before Olivia knows it, she’s getting help from all sorts of unexpected sources: her almost-stepdad, superannoying Neil; her genius little brother, Charlie; even her stressed-out mom. Soon she has breezed through the audition rounds and is headed for Hollywood! But will the one person she wants to impress more than anyone else show up to support her? SUNSHINE STATE AWARD FINALIST!


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Olivia Bean knows trivia. She watches Jeopardy! every night and usually beats at least one of the contestants. If she were better at geography, she would try out for the show’s kids’ week. Not only could she win bundles of money, she’d get to go to the taping in California, where her dad, who left two years ago and who Olivia misses like crazy, lives with his new famil Olivia Bean knows trivia. She watches Jeopardy! every night and usually beats at least one of the contestants. If she were better at geography, she would try out for the show’s kids’ week. Not only could she win bundles of money, she’d get to go to the taping in California, where her dad, who left two years ago and who Olivia misses like crazy, lives with his new family.   One day Olivia’s friend-turned-nemesis, Tucker, offers to help her bulk up her geography knowledge. Before Olivia knows it, she’s getting help from all sorts of unexpected sources: her almost-stepdad, superannoying Neil; her genius little brother, Charlie; even her stressed-out mom. Soon she has breezed through the audition rounds and is headed for Hollywood! But will the one person she wants to impress more than anyone else show up to support her? SUNSHINE STATE AWARD FINALIST!

30 review for Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manybooks

    Twelve-year-old Olivia Bean lives and breathes trivia and never misses an episode of Alex Trebek’s Jeopardy!. She used to watch it every night with her father, but since her parents' divorce and his move from Philadelphia to California (with Olivia's best friend's mother and her daughter, Olivia's erstwhile best friend forever, Nikki), Olivia usually watches the game show by herself (and often knows the answers better than some if not even many of the contestants). When Olivia realizes that test Twelve-year-old Olivia Bean lives and breathes trivia and never misses an episode of Alex Trebek’s Jeopardy!. She used to watch it every night with her father, but since her parents' divorce and his move from Philadelphia to California (with Olivia's best friend's mother and her daughter, Olivia's erstwhile best friend forever, Nikki), Olivia usually watches the game show by herself (and often knows the answers better than some if not even many of the contestants). When Olivia realizes that testing for Jeopardy! Kids Week is about to commence, she is determined to try out. She desperately wants to win one of the coveted 15 spots on the show, not only because she is (of course and naturally) eager to be on Jeopardy!, to show off her trivia skills, but also, and perhaps even more importantly, because the studio where Jeopardy! is being filmed is located in California (close to where her father now lives), and she hopes that she will be able to visit with her father (and that he will actually consider making time for her). And yes, Donna Gephart's Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen is a generally sweet and engaging Middle Grade story, full of humour, trivia, and fun (and I especially love Livi's little brother Charlie and his tendency to talk about gross trivia facts at the dinner table), but also teeming with emotional poignancy, sadness, the problems faced by many children of divorce (missing the absent parent, hero-worshipping the absent parent even when faced with and by ample proof that he/she is not worthy of being thus idolised). For throughout the story, throughout the narrative of Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen, Olivia clearly adores her father, even though it is rather painfully obvious that he is most definitely not at all a model parent (that he is self-centred, a compulsive gambler, who only cares for and about himself, and while he might at times remember Olivia and her little brother Charlie, more often than not he forgets to phone, even on birthdays and Christmas, and only really ever decides to think about and of his children when and if it suits him, or if he wants something from them). Now some reviewers have stated they find it somewhat problematic that Olivia takes so long (almost the entire book, it seems) to fully appreciate what her father is really like (that he is basically a self-indulgent jerk) and that she is too immature for her twelve years of age. However, I think it is always easier to be on the outside looking in, and while I do think that Livi is a bit emotionally immature and definitely blinkered with regard to her father, I also think that the author, that Donna Gephart has portrayed this very realistically (as it is often hardest to admit that those nearest and dearest to us have or can have major faults, majorly negative character traits). And that Livi and Charlie's father basically feels only scant commitment to his children is a realistically painful learning process for Livi and Charlie, one that will take time. And yes, I also believe that Donna Gephart has in Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen realistically portrayed Livi's negative reactions towards Neil, her mother's new live-in boyfriend (and for all intents and purposes Olivia and Charlie's stepfather). For while Neil is portrayed as the exact opposite to Livi's father (caring, helpful, loving), it naturally takes Olivia a bit of time to realise not only how different Neil is from her own father, but that he is really indeed a much more dependable, positive and loving person than the former (the reader might well be a bit angry at Olivia's attitudes towards Neil, but again, these attitudes are realistic, even if one does find them rather immature, even bordering on being nasty). And for me, it is actually more than understandable that to Olivia, who desperately misses her father (and is likely still harbouring some remote hope of him returning one day to his family), Neil is regarded as an interloper, as an invader (and just like with her realisation that her father is not the caring, dependable parent she had imagined, or rather had wanted to imagine, it takes time for Livi to appreciate just how special a person Neil truly is, and how different, in a glowingly positive way he is from her biological father). Now all the above having been said, and as much as I generally enjoyed Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen, I do have a number of minor but frustrating issues with certain aspects of the novel. For one and most importantly, while I have indeed generally enjoyed reading about Tucker and Olivia's reemerging friendship (and Olivia realising that she has made a major mountain out of a molehill with regard to that "unfortunate hula hoop incident" and that Tucker has therefore not been "mean" to her at all, that their present problems are due to a huge misunderstanding and mostly on her part), I think it would actually have been more poignant if it had been Neil, not Tucker, who helped Olivia with her geography block (considering that most of Livi's problems with geography stem from the fact that her father had always told her that geography was just not "her thing" it would have been a great literary device for the author to have used Neil, her mother's new boyfriend, and the opposite of Olivia's and Charlie's father, as the key to unlocking Livi's abilities in and knowledge of geography). And I also do think that while Donna Gephart has, for the most part, created rich and nuanced characters in Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen (characters who are interesting, likeable and relatable, but who also have negative traits, who can and do make mistakes), the two main adult male characters (Olivia's father and potential stepfather Neil) are, unfortunately, rather stock-like and flat (Livi's father, as someone entirely negative, as someone who can do no right, and Neil, as someone entirely positive, as someone who can do no wrong). And indeed, a bit more nuance (some even mildy positive character traits for Livi's father, and some mistakes, some minor negative character traits for Neil) would have made both the father and Neil more realistic (as they kind of do seem like allegories to an extent, while most of the other characters featured in Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen, even little Charlie, possess both laudable and not so laudable characteristics, making not only good decisions, but also making their share of major mistakes, basically acting like typical and also flawed human beings). All in all though, Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen is a sweet coming of age novel, a novel that can be enjoyed by both older children and teenagers (and even if one is not a trivia buff, there is much to love and cherish in this delightful and emotionally satisfying story). And finally, this is yet another novel that, if half stars were possible, I would have rated with 3.5 stars (but as it is, I am rating Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen with four stars, as I do think the novel is definitely worth more than just three stars, but if I had had a choice, 3.5 stars would most definitely be my preferred rating).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    I can totally relate to Olivia, because I definitely watched a lot of Jeopardy! in my childhood years, although I was not nearly as good at it as she is. Unfortunately, I definitely suffer from brain freeze (and not the kind you get from drinking something cold). I really liked the basic storyline, focusing around her quest to win Kids Jeopardy!, and to improve her life along the way. Olivia's a little tightly-wound, but I suppose that's what I expected from a girl dealing with a new stepdad, th I can totally relate to Olivia, because I definitely watched a lot of Jeopardy! in my childhood years, although I was not nearly as good at it as she is. Unfortunately, I definitely suffer from brain freeze (and not the kind you get from drinking something cold). I really liked the basic storyline, focusing around her quest to win Kids Jeopardy!, and to improve her life along the way. Olivia's a little tightly-wound, but I suppose that's what I expected from a girl dealing with a new stepdad, the neglect of her biological father, and the slight bullying of her classmates. Her stepdad is a librarian! He's not quiet like so many fictional librarians are; actually, he sings really loud a lot, which is, from my personal experience, very true of the best librarians. Unfortunately, this loud singing can sometimes interrupt jeopardy. Rude! Olivia totally hero-worships her dad, which is rather unfortunate, considering how obvious it is that he is awful. The whole reason Olivia cannot remember geography is because of his programming. He was no good at it, so he told her she wasn't either, probably because he didn't want a kid to beat him at Jeopardy!, which he probably views as his thing. Way to hold your kid back! Every chapter title is phrased in the form of a question, like any proper Jeopardy!-themed story should be. Of course, the book isn't only about Jeopardy!; it also focuses on divorce, friendship, and the awkwardness of middle school flirting. Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen is a cute story, full of fun facts. Now I kind of wish I were smart enough to try out for Jeopardy!!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Riley Roam

    One of my absolute favorite books!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Reading is my Escape

    Ahh... Jeopardy! Kids Week - another show to make me feel that I'm not smarter than a 5th grader ;)     Olivia Bean loves Jeopardy! When her father was around, they would watch it together every night. Now her father moved to California with her best friend's mother (and her best friend). But Olivia still watches Jeopardy! every night. She has been dreaming of being on Jeopardy! Kids Week for what seems like forever and this year is her last chance. First thing she has to do is register.... A pare Ahh... Jeopardy! Kids Week - another show to make me feel that I'm not smarter than a 5th grader ;)     Olivia Bean loves Jeopardy! When her father was around, they would watch it together every night. Now her father moved to California with her best friend's mother (and her best friend). But Olivia still watches Jeopardy! every night. She has been dreaming of being on Jeopardy! Kids Week for what seems like forever and this year is her last chance. First thing she has to do is register.... A parent has to do that. Which parent can she count on?   Olivia is a cute girl with a Jeopardy! obsession. She is having trouble adjusting to her new family situation. Her dad is too busy gambling or hanging out with his girlfriend to remember to call her once a week. Her mom's boyfriend lives with them now (and Olivia doesn't really like him much). And the boy next door is either very nice or very mean to her (she is not sure what to think about him).   This is a realistic story about families adjusting to changes and how deeply it affects the children. I liked Olivia and her family. I was really rooting for Olivia to get on Jeopardy! It just meant so much to her. The story deals with difficult issues in a lighthearted manner. Perfect for kids in grades 3-5.   Recommended to: Young readers in grades 3-5, especially girls, who may relate to Olivia's dreams.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens

    Kids who feel lots of pressure from their parents (or even just from themselves) to achieve will totally relate to this book. Also, the author does a superb job with the whole mom's-boyfriend-Neil-now-lives-here-too-and-how-will-that-work aspect of changing families. And the miscommunications between Olivia and her neighbor Tucker really ring true. Kids who feel lots of pressure from their parents (or even just from themselves) to achieve will totally relate to this book. Also, the author does a superb job with the whole mom's-boyfriend-Neil-now-lives-here-too-and-how-will-that-work aspect of changing families. And the miscommunications between Olivia and her neighbor Tucker really ring true.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    Honestly this book was pretty easy for me, but it was pretty good book overall. It had good detail, and I liked the personality traits of these characters. They developed well throughout the book. I gave this book a 3/5 stars.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alex Baugh

    Olivia Bean is one unhappy girl. Her father and mother are divorced and he has since remarried - to her best friend's mother and now, the three of them are living clear across the county in California. Even watching Jeopardy is the same. Mom's fiancee Neil keeps trying to hone in on it, but Olivia has no use for playing Jeopardy with him. Trivia and Jeopardy used to be Olivia and her father's thing to do together. Olivia is still obsessed with trivia, and she's pretty good at it, too. Well, exce Olivia Bean is one unhappy girl. Her father and mother are divorced and he has since remarried - to her best friend's mother and now, the three of them are living clear across the county in California. Even watching Jeopardy is the same. Mom's fiancee Neil keeps trying to hone in on it, but Olivia has no use for playing Jeopardy with him. Trivia and Jeopardy used to be Olivia and her father's thing to do together. Olivia is still obsessed with trivia, and she's pretty good at it, too. Well, except for geography. Then one day her former friend and neighbor turned enemy Tucker Thomas tells Olivia that auditions for kids' week on Jeopardy are going to be held in NY. Brilliant! Olivia has been dreaming of seeing her dad again, since he is always too busy to call her and her little brother Charlie. She knows that once they were together again, things would be better. And if she could only master geography, she would have a chance of getting on Jeopardy. And that means going to California and seeing Dad. And as it happens, Tucker is pretty good at geography. Pretty soon, Olivia is getting trivia help from everyone - Tucker, Mom, little brother Charles and even pain in the neck Neil. And Olivia does indeed makes the cut at the auditions. Pretty soon, the whole family, including Neil, is on its way to California. Olivia's can hardy contain her excitement over her planned reunion with her dad. But will it all be as perfect as she has imagined it will be? Or will Olivia finally see her dad for who he is? When I first started reading Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen I didn't much care for it. What a selfish, whinny brat, I kept thinking. But I pushed on and to my surprise, I ended up really liking this novel and Olivia. She is a strong protagonist, and it turns out, a very kind one. While Olivia may be a girl with a dream who works very hard to make that dream come true, she is really not so self-centered that she doesn't appreciate the people around her who care about her. Even in the face of so many obstacles, like her mother losing her job and money being so short, she doesn't get so discouraged, she gives up. Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen is a very nice coming of age story for middle grade readers, many of whom may be facing the same difficulties in their lives as Olivia does in hers - things like divorce, job loss, money problems, dealing with a new dad. But in dealing with these things, Olivia finds out as much about herself as her does other people. Personally, I think the biggest most important thing Olivia learns this that people are not always who she thought they were, and she learns to handles this revelation with a new found maturity. This is a well written, tight story that has as much humor as it does problems, giving it a nice balance. I do wonder how many kids are so taken with trivia and Jeopardy, but I don't think they would have to be to relate to this book. I also love the Jeopardy trivia at the end of the novel, interesting stuff for anyone interested in this popular show. This book is recommended for readers age 9-12 This book was borrowed from the Webster Branch of the NYPL

  8. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    Twelve-year-old Olivia Bean can tell you the four parts of a cow's stomach: she reads trivia for relaxation! And when her neighbor turns into a nemesis, hirsute Neil takes her father's place in her home, her mom spends days alone in her bedroom crying, Olivia's passion and genius for trivia leads her to a coveted contestant spot on "Jeopardy!" Kids Week. Olivia shares her emotional rollercoaster ride as she moves from avid TV watcher in Philadelphia to competitive whiz with the "signaling device Twelve-year-old Olivia Bean can tell you the four parts of a cow's stomach: she reads trivia for relaxation! And when her neighbor turns into a nemesis, hirsute Neil takes her father's place in her home, her mom spends days alone in her bedroom crying, Olivia's passion and genius for trivia leads her to a coveted contestant spot on "Jeopardy!" Kids Week. Olivia shares her emotional rollercoaster ride as she moves from avid TV watcher in Philadelphia to competitive whiz with the "signaling device" in Culver City, getting not only clues in history, science and geography, but also who's a support and who's a letdown, and who's battling adversity and disappointment along with her. Author Donna Gephart nails the excitement and anxiety of a Jeopardy! audition participant and contestant, adding verisimilitude by placing Alex Trebek and real-life contestant wrangler Maggie in the novel, and borrowing from Bob Harris' contestant memoir _Prisoner of Trebekistan_. I loved Olivia's wacky perspectives and assumptions, frequently wrong, about the people about her. Facts are more constant and easier to read than people, aren't they, Olivia? I agree.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mary Louise Sanchez

    Olivia Bean loves the game show Jeopardy and trivia in general, thanks to her dad. She hopes to get a spot on the Kids Week show because she'll meet Alex Trebek and be able to visit her dad in California, who Olivia and her little brother Charlie haven't seen in two years since he left with Olivia's best friend's mother. There are other jeopardies in Olivia's life. She's not good in geography and the game show is bound to have geography questions. Olivia's mother just lost her job and Olivia wou Olivia Bean loves the game show Jeopardy and trivia in general, thanks to her dad. She hopes to get a spot on the Kids Week show because she'll meet Alex Trebek and be able to visit her dad in California, who Olivia and her little brother Charlie haven't seen in two years since he left with Olivia's best friend's mother. There are other jeopardies in Olivia's life. She's not good in geography and the game show is bound to have geography questions. Olivia's mother just lost her job and Olivia would love to get on the show and win lots of money to help out. Then there's also Olivia's dad who seems more interested in his other family and gambling then in Olivia and her brother. If she did get on the show would he a no show like he's been since he left the family?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Becca Puglisi

    Honest, believable, heartfelt, unpredictable. This book was so well-crafted. I think girls will relate well to Olivia and her struggles, both with herself and her changing family dynamic. A lot of middle grade books are predictable, but I wasn't sure what was going to happen until the very end. A refreshing, satisfying read. Honest, believable, heartfelt, unpredictable. This book was so well-crafted. I think girls will relate well to Olivia and her struggles, both with herself and her changing family dynamic. A lot of middle grade books are predictable, but I wasn't sure what was going to happen until the very end. A refreshing, satisfying read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brandi Rae Fong

    Really enjoyable. I thought the fact that Olivia's dad was kind of a jerk was a bit heavy handed, but his behavior was key in her growing as a person. Loved some of the random "gross" trivia that her little brother kept spouting off--did you know flamingos pee on their legs to keep cool? Or that cockroach can live without it's head for quite a while? Me neither. Really enjoyable. I thought the fact that Olivia's dad was kind of a jerk was a bit heavy handed, but his behavior was key in her growing as a person. Loved some of the random "gross" trivia that her little brother kept spouting off--did you know flamingos pee on their legs to keep cool? Or that cockroach can live without it's head for quite a while? Me neither.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Katie Fitzgerald

    Olivia Bean has always been obsessed with trivia, and especially with Jeopardy, which she used to watch with her father before he ran off with Olivia’s best friend’s mom and started a new life in California. Now Olivia is left to fend for herself in the school cafeteria, as her best friend is gone and not speaking to her, and at home, she’s having trouble adjusting to Neil, her mom’s new beau who has recently moved in. While constantly waiting for her father to call, and trying to protect her li Olivia Bean has always been obsessed with trivia, and especially with Jeopardy, which she used to watch with her father before he ran off with Olivia’s best friend’s mom and started a new life in California. Now Olivia is left to fend for herself in the school cafeteria, as her best friend is gone and not speaking to her, and at home, she’s having trouble adjusting to Neil, her mom’s new beau who has recently moved in. While constantly waiting for her father to call, and trying to protect her little brother Charlie from the truth of their family troubles, Olivia also puzzles over the behavior of her next door neighbor, Tucker, and desperately looks for a way to get on her favorite show during Kids Week. As my wordy summary no doubt suggests, this is a story with a lot going on. Olivia has an internal life, a family life, and a school life, and each one plays a significant role in the overarching plot, which is not just about trivia, but about Olivia taking control of her destiny and letting go of the anger she feels toward her dad, while also forgiving Tucker’s past bad deeds and accepting her new family as they are. Olivia’s struggles, and her frustrations with the way she is treated by people who are supposed to love her the most, are very real, and well-described. Her situation is not uncommon in twenty-first century families, and the story does a nice job of depicting reality rather than sugar-coating it. Some plot threads are tied up better than others, and I did find myself thinking that the author may have tried to take on too many things in one book, but even so, I enjoyed Olivia so much as a narrator it almost didn’t matter. In fact, I think character development is probably the strongest aspect of Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen. Gephart’s descriptions of each character painted a picture in my mind which made me feel as though I knew each one and made it easy to visualize them very clearly. The trivia theme and Jeopardy references amused me as well, but what truly keeps things moving along is the reader’s investment in Olivia and her desire to have a chance to prove herself. This book will definitely speak to girls who do well in school, and who enjoy trivia and watch Jeopardy themselves, but it covers enough universal ideas that I think most tween realistic fiction readers will find something in it to appreciate. Read-alikes for this book include The Clueless Girl’s Guide to Being a Genius, because of its brainy main character, Bigger Than a Breadbox, because of its strained family dynamics, and the Katie Jordan books, which include another wonderfully sweet younger brother.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tammi

    *ARC from NetGalley* I thought this was a great children's novel. Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen feels like a story its target age group would connect and identify with and there are enough emotional layers to make it worthwhile for an adult reader, too. Twelve year-old Olivia is nuts about the gameshow Jeopardy! and never misses an episode. She loves trivia and she also loves the fact that it's something she shares with her dad. Olivia's dad left the family and broke their trust in a really awful way, *ARC from NetGalley* I thought this was a great children's novel. Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen feels like a story its target age group would connect and identify with and there are enough emotional layers to make it worthwhile for an adult reader, too. Twelve year-old Olivia is nuts about the gameshow Jeopardy! and never misses an episode. She loves trivia and she also loves the fact that it's something she shares with her dad. Olivia's dad left the family and broke their trust in a really awful way, but of course, Olivia still misses him and wants him back in her life, the way he used to be. The gradual reveal of Olivia's dad as a total scumbag is subtle and well done. Olivia often mentions things her father said and the reader begins to see that he is constantly putting her down, even though Olivia, being a kid who loves her dad, phrases his insults in a way that shows she thinks she is to blame. Olivia's dad is a character you want to kick in the groin, repeatedly and a better alternative is her mother's new boyfriend, Neil. I also think this relationship is nicely portrayed and develops realistically. Olivia resents and dislikes Neil at first, but comes to accept him and there's no over-the-top heroic moment where Neil rescues a dog from a burning building or anything - Olivia grows to think of him as her family almost without realising, because he does what fathers are supposed to do: Be there. One of the reasons I think Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen is such a nice read is because of its focus on family. The scenes of the family together actually made me miss being that age and living at home. Baby brother Charlie, really reminded me of my own youngest brother, who was also simultaneously annoying and cute. There are also some good messages in this: Olivia does seem younger than twelve, but I was glad to read about a kid who wasn't bratty or spoiled and I like that the novel encourages girls to be smart. Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen is a little predictable for adult readers (who have been around the reading block and know that, obviously, Olivia must make it onto Jeopardy! or the novel would stop there) but it's enjoyable nonetheless. And I wholeheartedly recommend it for children with a reading age of 8 and up. I'm keeping it on my Kindle in preparation for any nieces or nephews I may have to entertain.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Judy & Marianne from Long and Short Reviews

    Originally posted at: http://aurorareviews.blogspot.com/201... What is family? Ask Olivia at the beginning of this book and she would say her mom, Little Bother (uh, brother) and her dad, who happens to live several states over with his new family. It would NOT include Neil. No way, no how! If only life was as structured as a game show. Olivia Bean is smart. Really smart. Could-win-at-Jeopardy!- if-she-could-just-earn-a-spot-on-their-kid’s-week-show smart. Best of all, she would make her dad proud Originally posted at: http://aurorareviews.blogspot.com/201... What is family? Ask Olivia at the beginning of this book and she would say her mom, Little Bother (uh, brother) and her dad, who happens to live several states over with his new family. It would NOT include Neil. No way, no how! If only life was as structured as a game show. Olivia Bean is smart. Really smart. Could-win-at-Jeopardy!- if-she-could-just-earn-a-spot-on-their-kid’s-week-show smart. Best of all, she would make her dad proud and he would come see her, and maybe Neil would go away and maybe her little brother would be less of a Little Bother…if only. Children think on such simple terms. If only this one big thing could happen, the rest of the world would fall into place and things would be perfect. Olivia Bean: Trivia Queen is a coming of age story for 12 year old Olivia. At a very pivotal point in her life, her world, as she has known it, is totally turned upside down. Sure her mom and dad fought, regularly, but she never imagined there would be a time that she wouldn’t get to sit down with her dad and watch their favorite show together. I really liked how Ms. Gephart created this character. I have a ten year old daughter and it was so easy to relate to how Olivia viewed the world. I could see/hear my daughter saying some of the same things Olivia said and with just as much attitude. Watching Olivia grow and mature as the book progresses was a joy. From the beginning where her goal is to avoid her mother’s live in boyfriend, Neil, and not kill her annoying little brother to when she realizes the true definition of family. What is family? By the end of the book it was easy to see that Olivia had faced some tough truths and learned more about what’s important in life. She has an incredible support system right under her own roof and the very same person she thought she could never talk to, much less befriend, is the one who becomes her closest ally. This was a really fun book. It was a story within a story that highlighted the value found in family (even an unconventional one) and friends. Young readers as well as adults who simply like to keep up with what their children are reading will enjoy this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Seanean

    http://librarytalker.blogspot.com/201... Olivia has always been the master of trivia. Terrible things await those who interrupt her Jeopardy! time on any given night. She's as good, or even better, than the adults on the show. Her only weakness is the dreaded Geography. Each year, Jeopardy! devotes one week to kids and it's Olivia's last chance to enter before she ages out of the competition. With the help of her mother, brother, maybe-not-so-evil-almost-stepfather-Neil, and her maybe-not-so-evil- http://librarytalker.blogspot.com/201... Olivia has always been the master of trivia. Terrible things await those who interrupt her Jeopardy! time on any given night. She's as good, or even better, than the adults on the show. Her only weakness is the dreaded Geography. Each year, Jeopardy! devotes one week to kids and it's Olivia's last chance to enter before she ages out of the competition. With the help of her mother, brother, maybe-not-so-evil-almost-stepfather-Neil, and her maybe-not-so-evil-cute-boy-next-door-Tucker, Olivia hopes to train up and get on that show before it's too late. Of course the one person she desperately wants to help her is the dad who left her family to marry her former best friend's mother and move them across the country to California. Maybe, just maybe, if she can get on to Jeopardy!, which is filmed in Culver City, CA, maybe she can finally see her dad again and get him to remember his original family. But, even if she gets there, can she win, get oodles of cash to help her family, and maybe get her dad to remember she exists? Final thoughts: Upper-elementary book and it shows. Officially, Olivia is 12, but seems to have the emotions of an 8-year-old and the extreme trivia knowledge of a 20-year-old who studies trivia 24/7. Her obliviousness to her dad's treatment of her and her brother is sometimes annoying, like you want to reach through the book and shake her a little while you shout, "He's a gambling addict! He cares more about the high of winning than he does about YOU! Neil is the dad you SHOULD have! Pay attention!!!!" The book ends a little suddenly and there are a few unresolved issues left hanging, which is frustrating. Children of divorced parents, especially those struggling through these tough financial times, will appreciate many of Olivia's problems and be able to relate to those.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Olivia LOVES trivia, and she wants to be on Jeopardy some day. I am still waiting for my chance to get on Wheel of Fortune, so I could relate to her on that level. I enjoyed reading about Olivia's journey from hopeful to contestant, and especially liked that the book was divided into sections named after the rounds in the TV show (Jeopardy, Double Jeopardy, Final Jeopardy). What bothered me most, which probably will not bother children, is that the chapters are titled with questions but that not Olivia LOVES trivia, and she wants to be on Jeopardy some day. I am still waiting for my chance to get on Wheel of Fortune, so I could relate to her on that level. I enjoyed reading about Olivia's journey from hopeful to contestant, and especially liked that the book was divided into sections named after the rounds in the TV show (Jeopardy, Double Jeopardy, Final Jeopardy). What bothered me most, which probably will not bother children, is that the chapters are titled with questions but that not all of the questions fit the Jeopardy format. For example, "Is No News Bad News?" may fit the chapter, but it would never be the correct response on the show. Another thing that I noticed but children probably wouldn't pick up on is the fact that Olivia thinks the world of her father even while talking about terrible things he has done. At the same time, she dislikes her stepfather, even while describing things he does that proves he cares about Olivia, her brother, and their mother. As an adult, I could tell that Olivia would see by the end that her stepfather is wonderful and her father is not so great. Many kids wouldn't realize that. For me the whole thing detracted from the story until Olivia started to realize her stepfather is not so bad, and then it was easier to keep going. The story was a little slow going at first, then the pace picked up with Olivia's excitement. I was disappointed that her actual experience on Jeopardy was no more than 10 pages. After all the build-up of the previous 260 pages, I expected more time to be spent on the show. Even her audition game of Jeopardy is only about 4 pages. Overall, I think it's a cute book that young Jeopardy fans will enjoy because it gives a behind-the-scenes look at what happens from the online test through the actual show. Adults would be better off reading Brainiac by Ken Jennings, whose record-breaking 75-game streak made history.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    Like How to Survive Middle School, Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen follows a similar theme: Bad parents can happen to good kids. It's sad, but it's true. Donna Gephart manages to get this across without making the kids whiny or the grown-ups over the top evil. Olivia is a cute character with a love for trivia and an interesting cast of supporting characters in her ex-best friend, the neighbor boy, a little brother who loves gross trivia, a mother struggling with a job loss, and her mom's live-in boyfr Like How to Survive Middle School, Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen follows a similar theme: Bad parents can happen to good kids. It's sad, but it's true. Donna Gephart manages to get this across without making the kids whiny or the grown-ups over the top evil. Olivia is a cute character with a love for trivia and an interesting cast of supporting characters in her ex-best friend, the neighbor boy, a little brother who loves gross trivia, a mother struggling with a job loss, and her mom's live-in boyfriend. Notice I didn't include her dad in the "supporting" characters. Students who feel the odd-ball or who are struggling with their "imperfect" family will definitely relate to her. One of the things I really appreciate about this book is that Olivia is rewarded for her perseverance and she manages to recognize that there's no point in focusing on what you don't have--appreciate the people you do. I also liked that Olivia worked hard for her reward and there wasn't some deus ex machina move to save her in the end, which tends to happen in children's literature. I will say my personal star rating, as a 40 something woman, would be a 3. However, I am not really the target audience. Gephart writes directly at her target audience of 10-13 year olds. Those students will really like this book, so I would give it a four as appropriate and entertaining for its target audience. I definitely plan to purchase it for our middle school library when it is officially released in March. By the way, I love the cover art. I think the girl is just as I would picture Olivia.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sherry

    Solid, entertaining realistic fiction! Plot keeps moving, characters are well developed (love that little brother), problems are real-world (divorce, gambling) but appropriately presented for children - and the MAIN problem is that Olivia feels she MUST make it on to the Jeopardy! Kids' Week in order to win money to help her struggling family. Great choice for upper grade readers! Solid, entertaining realistic fiction! Plot keeps moving, characters are well developed (love that little brother), problems are real-world (divorce, gambling) but appropriately presented for children - and the MAIN problem is that Olivia feels she MUST make it on to the Jeopardy! Kids' Week in order to win money to help her struggling family. Great choice for upper grade readers!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Ellen Davis

    Olivia Bean is great! I love how the chapter titles are Jeopardy answers! A fun story with good characters and believable stuff happening. Read it straight through and loved it. Haiku Review: What is a good book? family and trivia and fun mixed in too.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marcyhowes

    As the mother of a Jeopardy contestant, I loved reading this book! I plan to read more of Donna Gephart's books. As the mother of a Jeopardy contestant, I loved reading this book! I plan to read more of Donna Gephart's books.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    I added this after reading Gephart’s most recent book, In Your Shoes, which was the first of hers I’d read. While I don’t think Olivia Bean was as terrific as that book, it was pretty darn good. Olivia loves watching jeopardy and reading books filled with factoids. And that’s pretty much all she enjoys these days. Her father left; moving across the country to California with her best friend’s mom. While that’s tough enough to swallow, Olivia’s best friend also moved with them so she’s navigating I added this after reading Gephart’s most recent book, In Your Shoes, which was the first of hers I’d read. While I don’t think Olivia Bean was as terrific as that book, it was pretty darn good. Olivia loves watching jeopardy and reading books filled with factoids. And that’s pretty much all she enjoys these days. Her father left; moving across the country to California with her best friend’s mom. While that’s tough enough to swallow, Olivia’s best friend also moved with them so she’s navigating middle school alone. At home, Olivia has her younger brother Charlie who has inherited the “bean gene” for trivia. There’s also mom, a newspaper reporter, and her mom’s boyfriend Neil, a librarian who just moved in. Olivia spends the first few chapters hating on Neil and his scruffy beard, but he proves he’s worth pretty quickly. Mom loses her job and turns out dad is actually a pretty terrible person—a gambling drunk, apparently. Olivia Bean Trivia Queen is pretty interesting as a look into being a child contestant on America’s most popular game show (right? Surely it’s not Wheel!). But there’s a lot more going on here. Divorce, of course. But Olivia is also dealing with some pretty serious anxiety (thanks, Dad). And dad’s other issues too. The friendship issue is illuminated at the end of the book and of course, the grass isn’t always greener. There’s also a budding middle school romance and other school related issues, as well as family drama that is super relatable. But unlike other books I’ve read recently where the characters seem to be going through too many issues at once, Olivia’s problems seem pretty organic and she handles them as a middle schooler would for the most part. in short, I’ll be looking forward to more gephart in my future. Read alikes: no fixed address (for the trivia/family issues angles) and all the right answers (for the anxiety angle).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I snagged this from a Little Free Library while walking with Author Kim Patto , thinking of my 10 year old niece. I think she is a bit young to connect the subjects addressed. The author does a wonderful job weaving in realistic, hard life situations including the ups and downs of friendships, divorce, and deep disappointments. She also realistically weaves in joys, healthy boundaries, hard work paying off, honest communication, and more. I felt transported to my own past as I read about Olivia e I snagged this from a Little Free Library while walking with Author Kim Patto , thinking of my 10 year old niece. I think she is a bit young to connect the subjects addressed. The author does a wonderful job weaving in realistic, hard life situations including the ups and downs of friendships, divorce, and deep disappointments. She also realistically weaves in joys, healthy boundaries, hard work paying off, honest communication, and more. I felt transported to my own past as I read about Olivia excitedly sharing something with her father that she knew he would like, only to be cut off mid-sentence. "Olivia, I don't mean to rush you. But is this going to take long? Stella and I are on the golf course." This book reminded me how thankful I am to have "gotten the good parent." Yes, grieve what is not, while not allowing those huge hurts and disappointments to overshadow the good that is in the present.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Janell

    I wish this book had been around when I was 12, and feeling like a red umbrella! This book is compellingly crafted and should be a great read for anyone who has dealt with feeling like an outsider at school, or had to handle a divorce / blending families situation. It captures the thrill of a tween trivia geek as she hopes for the chance to compete on Kid Jeopardy while dealing with an absent father, an absent former-best-friend, a neighbor boy with confusing motives, girls at school who spend t I wish this book had been around when I was 12, and feeling like a red umbrella! This book is compellingly crafted and should be a great read for anyone who has dealt with feeling like an outsider at school, or had to handle a divorce / blending families situation. It captures the thrill of a tween trivia geek as she hopes for the chance to compete on Kid Jeopardy while dealing with an absent father, an absent former-best-friend, a neighbor boy with confusing motives, girls at school who spend too much time talking about nail polish, a little brother obsessed with gross facts, a mom who is dealing with her own issues, and mom's hairy new live-in boyfriend. As Olivia works to learn as much trivia as possible, she finds out who her true friends, family, and supporters are.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Courtenay

    This book took me a while to get through (I read 7 other books between starting and finishing it). Not quite sure why. I'm writing a book with a similar character though completely different premise, perhaps that's why. Close to home. Olivia is very bright (except in geography) and wants more than anything to impress her dad by going on Jeopardy and winning money to help out her mom. She has a frenemy, Tucker, and a confusing relationship with her mom's boyfriend, but in the end, she comes to re This book took me a while to get through (I read 7 other books between starting and finishing it). Not quite sure why. I'm writing a book with a similar character though completely different premise, perhaps that's why. Close to home. Olivia is very bright (except in geography) and wants more than anything to impress her dad by going on Jeopardy and winning money to help out her mom. She has a frenemy, Tucker, and a confusing relationship with her mom's boyfriend, but in the end, she comes to realize who her REAL friends are. Interesting story about the trials of being a smart kid, but to me, it just lacked something I can't put my finger on.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Will Plunkett

    As someone who watches the show religiously (and has for many years), tried out as a teen (never heard back) and an adult (made it to the in-person group audition round), attended a taping (and was called on during Alex's audience Q & A session), and was shocked and devastated by Alex Trebek's death this year; hearing of this book was a given to eventually read. Just like the show itself, a 30-minute episode is just a glimpse into the life of a contestant. So the story is connected to a quiz sho As someone who watches the show religiously (and has for many years), tried out as a teen (never heard back) and an adult (made it to the in-person group audition round), attended a taping (and was called on during Alex's audience Q & A session), and was shocked and devastated by Alex Trebek's death this year; hearing of this book was a given to eventually read. Just like the show itself, a 30-minute episode is just a glimpse into the life of a contestant. So the story is connected to a quiz show and trivia, but really about the titular character's relationships with family, friends, and classmates or competitors. Somewhat predictable at times, but quite enjoyable.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ingrid

    Olivia loves Jeopardy and loved watching it with your father, but he left the family and moved across the country to California. Olivia lives with her mother, her mother's boyfriend and little brother. Olivia has the opportunity to appear on Jeopardy Kids and part of the appeal is a trip to California where the show is filmed. Over the course of the book Olivia comes to terms with her father's shortcomings as well as what a family really is. Olivia loves Jeopardy and loved watching it with your father, but he left the family and moved across the country to California. Olivia lives with her mother, her mother's boyfriend and little brother. Olivia has the opportunity to appear on Jeopardy Kids and part of the appeal is a trip to California where the show is filmed. Over the course of the book Olivia comes to terms with her father's shortcomings as well as what a family really is.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I read Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen with my sister and we both agreed that it was a three-star kind of book. The trivia was fun, but the writing was weak and none of the characters were fully-developed. The plot was predictable, and the ending was way too abrupt and didn't really bring many of the issues to a conclusion. Honestly, I probably would have DNF'd if I were reading on my own. I read Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen with my sister and we both agreed that it was a three-star kind of book. The trivia was fun, but the writing was weak and none of the characters were fully-developed. The plot was predictable, and the ending was way too abrupt and didn't really bring many of the issues to a conclusion. Honestly, I probably would have DNF'd if I were reading on my own.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kitty

    Olivia Bean Trivia Queen This book was highly recommended by Las Vegas, Jeopardy James. Full of fun trivia facts, it also has a compelling story to tell. It actually brought tears to my eyes at times. I devoured this book and my kindle pages were flying at warped speed. Darling book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    Wow, Dad really sucked.

  30. 5 out of 5

    eva c

    I opened this book assuming it'd be two stars or less and that I'd be giving it away after I was done. But Olivia Bean surprised me. I opened this book assuming it'd be two stars or less and that I'd be giving it away after I was done. But Olivia Bean surprised me.

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