The Nerviest Girl in the World by Melissa Wiley ★★★★★ #BookReview #BookBlog #MiddleGrade

Primary Genre(s): Middle Grade Fiction, Humor
Published: 18 August 2020 by Random House Children’s/Knopf Books for Young Readers
Page count: 208
My Format: eBook/ARC via NetGalley
Cover: Exciting and fun
Pacing: Wonderful   
Ending: Great
Do I Recommend: Yes
Commission Link: Buy The Nerviest Girl in the World

My rating: ★★★★★

Pearl lives on a ranch where her chores include collecting eggs and feeding ornery ostriches. She has three older brothers, who don’t coddle her at all. And she knows a thing or two about horses, too.

One day, Pearl’s brothers get cushy jobs doing stunts for this new form of entertainment called “moving pictures.” They’re the Daredevil Donnelly Brothers, a Death-Defying Cowboy Trio. Before she knows it, Pearl has stumbled into being a stunt girl herself–and dreams of becoming a star. The only problem is, her mother has no idea what she’s up to. And let’s just say she wouldn’t be too happy to find out that Pearl’s been jumping out of burning buildings in her spare time.

Filled with action, humor, and heart–not to mention those pesky ostriches–The Nerviest Girl in the World introduces a spunky heroine whose adventures will have kids on the edge of their seats and whose sense of humor will have them laughing until the very last line.

My Thoughts
How can I ignore a book with a title like this? Here are my pros and cons for The Nerviest Girl in the World:


  1. The title and the cover immediately caught my eye while perusing NetGalley one day. The title is unique and intriguing and the cover is colorful and fun.
  2. Pearl is a hoot! She is full of sass and verve and I think young readers will love her from page one!
  3. I loved the family dynamic in the book. The relationships between Pearl, her older brothers, her parents, and her grandmother were realistic and often heartfelt. I think young readers will definitely connect to Pearl and her family life.
  4. If you have a child interested in movie-making this book is definitely for them! The book is chock full of details about early movie making techniques! Readers will learn about moving picture vocabulary and technology from the time (early 20th century) and how films were shot. You will even learn about silent movie “over-acting” and makeup and how much actors were paid back then. Nothing gets super technical, but I thought it was a really great introduction to the old silent films. As a matter of fact, I’d recommend finding an old western silent movie to watch with your children after they read the book so they can see firsthand the things they read about in this book!
  5. I enjoyed the addition of the ostriches in the story, particularly about ostrich eggs and feathers and how they are used. It was also entertaining how Pearl describes them in the book. Ostriches are definitely ornery critters! I had the pleasure of visiting Ostrichland USA in Solvang, California many years ago. Visitors are allowed to feed the birds from cups. Interesting to me at the time, the cups came with really long handles on them. That was so you could keep a safe distance from the ostriches because they would definitely peck you if you got too close! Feeding them was fun but somewhat stressful at the same time! I’m not sure I would want to get as close to an ostrich as Pearl does in the book! They are amazing creatures… just not cuddly sweet ones!
  6. There is a jealousy issue that springs up between Pearl and another girl, but it is resolved nicely in the story.
  7. There are some fun illustrations sprinkled throughout the book that are humorous and silly.
  8. One of the neatest things about this book is that it was inspired by a real-life Pearl – Pearl White. The author includes some information about Pearl White in her Author’s Note at the end of the book, but you can click here if you would like to read more about Pearl White now.


  1. I felt like the book was just a tad repetitive from time to time, but I don’t think young readers will have an issue with it and it didn’t impact my overall enjoyment of the story.

This book is simply fun. It is a great introduction to early 1900s farm life, silent movie making, movie stunts, horseback riding, and ostrich farming… and it is funny and entertaining as well! I do encourage you to read the Author’s Note at the end of the book because it is chock full of details about the people and the film company that inspired the story.

This book is recommended for readers from Grade 4 to Grade 7 (according to Amazon)… but I’m more than three decades removed from Grade 7 and I enjoyed it immensely. I’d recommend this book to anyone.

Thank you NetGalley and Random House Children’s/Knopf Books for Young Readers for a free eARC of this book which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.   

If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy The Nerviest Girl in the World. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

Click here for a description of my rating scale.

(image from Goodreads)

Where to find me:

Facebook: @KayckayBookReviews
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