Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Revenge is Sweet, especially for NERDS

(Image from Indiebound)

Ever wonder what the nerds at your school do in their spare time? Popular athlete Jackson Jones never does. Even though his hometown of Arlington, Virginia, is "one giant geektropolis ... [with] dweebs, spazzes, goobers, gomers, goofballs, and freak-outs crawling out of every nook and cranny" (2), he pays attention to these lower life forms only when one of them is about to be the unlucky recipient of a wedgie or a Kick Me sign or a spitwad to the face. Why grace them with his attention for any other reason? They're so nerdy they're barely human.

When Jackson's orthodontist puts him in highly magnetic braces (with headgear), Jackson's world turns upside down. Suddenly, his "friends" are calling him Braceface, he's cut from the football team, and his reign as Nathan Hale Elementary School royalty has offcially gone down the toilet. Even the nerds won't hang out with him.

Then, Jackson stumbles on a secret world, one he never dreamed could exist, especially not right under his elementary school. He's shocked to find that the geeks he picked on during his popular period are actually NERDS, a team of talented, highly-trained super spies, whose covert missions help bring justice to criminals wanted by the U.S. government. None of the secret agents are pleased to see Jackson in their hideout. And none of them want him on their team, no matter what his newly-upgraded braces can do. In his previous life, Jackson never would have begged these dweebs for anything, but now he longs to be part of their team. He just has to convince the NERDS to let him into their club. Not an easy task. Still, Jackson's taken on nerds before and won. Surely, this time won't be much different.

Except that it totally is. This time, Jackson's getting his butt kicked by the very kids he used to take such pleasure in tormenting. And it hurts. Badly. Literally and figuratively. As Jackson gets battered in training, thrown out of airplanes, chased by Egyptian tribal fighters, and captured by a psychotic criminal mastermind, he must learn to appreciate and rely on this band of misfits he now calls teammates. His survival depends on it.

I've mentioned before that I volunteer at my kids' elementary school, helping with its homegrown reading program. Well, one day last week, my daughter came home from school, handed me NERDS by Michael Buckley, and said, "The librarian wants you to write a test for this book because everyone is reading it." Before I could even nod, she added, "But can I read it first?" After which, my son said, "Yeah, I need to read it, too, Mom." A week later, I finally got my turn at this very popular book. It didn't take me long to see why kids are eating it up. NERDS really is a fun, zany adventure story. The story moves quickly, makes an excellent point about judging people, and is just plain old entertaining. My kids think it's absolutely hilarious. I have to agree. Hand this one to a reluctant reader and he'll be sold because Buckley makes everything cool - nerds, braces, allergies, eating glue, even reading. It's about time, don't you think?

(Readalikes: Um, I can't think of anything, really, except its sequels, M is for Mama's Boy and Cheerleaders of Doom [coming in September 2011])

Grade: B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for some bathroom-type humor and a vague reference to seducing exotic women

To the FTC, with love: I borrowed NERDS from my kids' elementary school library and read it as part of my volunteer work with the school's reading program.

7 comments:

  1. I haven't heard of this - thanks for the review.
    Ann

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  2. I have two boys 11 and 9 and they realy enjoyed this as a read a loud. there is another called Mis for mamma's boy

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  3. what age is this appropriate for? is a 6yo 1st grader too young? should we wait a couple years?

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  4. Cozy - It's a fun one :)

    April - It would be a fun read aloud. My 12 yo boy and 9 yo girl both loved it. They've both read the sequel (M IS FOR MAMA'S BOY), too. I'm a little behind!

    Tara - It's a middle grade book. There's nothing bad in it, just some bathroom-type humor (you know, swirlies, boogers, that kind of thing). I don't know that a first grader would get it, though. I would probably wait a couple of years.

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  5. I saw this book when I was working the school book fair a couple weeks ago. I thought about getting it for my son but wasn't sure. Now I wish I had!

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  7. Hello Susan! Thanks for stopping by my blog! I appreciate it! I am now following your blog which is extremely cute by the way! And wow you have a lot of followers congrats! I do hope that you will become a follower of mine :)

    Jessie D
    Reader Between The Covers.

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