February 20, 2012

Nerd Camp

by Elissa Brent Weissman
ages: 9+
First sentence: "It was so late that it was almost tomorrow."
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Gabe is a nerd. Seriously. He's smart, he loves math and poetry and reading, and he's just been accepted into the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment -- a six-week sleepaway camp that you have to take a test to get into.

He's okay with all this -- well, in fact, it's more than okay: he's really, really excited -- until he meets his soon-to-be stepbrother, Zach. Who is not a nerd. In fact, he is disdainful of all things nerdy. Gabe doesn't quite know how to react to that: he really, really wants to get along with his new brother (he's always longed for a sibling), but he doesn't want to give up all the things he loves.

Thankfully, there's SCGE camp to help him out: are the adventures he has over the course of the summer negated by their nerdiness, or cool in their own right?

I adored this book. Seriously. Perhaps it's because I'm a mother of nerds, and one myself, but I thought Weissman just got the whole nerd kid culture -- not  to mention that wonderful awkwardness of being 10-years-old -- spot-on. Every little thing, from the awkwardness around new girls to the learning pi to the 20th digit, was adorable. (Perhaps I shouldn't call a boy book adorable. It'd turn the boys off. But seriously, it was.) I loved Gabe from the get-go, and it didn't take long for his camp friends Wesley and Nikhil to grow on me, either. I also really, really wanted to go to the camp. I'm not much into logic proofs, but Weissman made them seem really, really cool.

The only down side was that I felt Zach was a little shallow: all "cool" kids aren't down on reading or horrible at spelling. (There's also the side issue of why everything has to be either/or: do we really have to be smart OR cool? Maybe in 5th grade, yes...) But, because Zach was hardly a character, it didn't bring the awesomeness level of this one down.

I suppose the question, in the end, is: will the boy nerds read this one? I hope so. Really.

4 comments:

Charlotte said...

I've got it on hold at the library for my 11 year old son (who prefers "geek" to "nerd", alhtough it's much the same thing in the end). I hope he enjoys it!

Miss K said...

I just read it yesterday and really loved it, too. My favorite aspect was how wonderfully enthusiastic Gabe was about everything. It was also genuinely funny...some of the boys' ideas about how to seem cool were just hilarious!

Kailana said...

I like the way that 'Nerd' is spelled out on the cover. :)

Natalie said...

Love books about nerds! I typically don't read YA, but maybe I should check this one out :)