Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Book Review: Nerd Camp

Media Type: Book
Title: Nerd Camp
Author: Elissa Brent Weissman
Publisher: Antheneum Books
Pages: Hardcover; 160
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Source: GalleyGrab
Intended Reading Group:
Middle Grade

Content Screening:
Nothing of note.

HDB Rating:
4 Keys to My Heart

Ten-year-old Gabe has just been accepted to the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment. That means he’ll be spending six weeks at sleep-away camp writing poetry and perfecting logic proofs. S.C.G.E. has been a summer home to some legendary middle-school smarty-pants (and future Jeopardy! contestants), but it has a reputation for being, well, a Nerd Camp. S.C.G.E = Smart Camp for Geeks and Eggheads.

But, is Gabe really a geek? He’s never thought about it much, but that was before he met Zack, his hip, LA-cool, soon-to-be step-brother. Now, Gabe is worried that Zack will think he’s a nerd, not only a nerd, but JUST a nerd. A wild summer at camp—complete with a midnight canoe ride to “Dead Man’s Island”—makes Gabe realize that Zack may not be the brother he'd always dreamed of, but that doesn't mean they can't be friends.

Oh, how do I describe my love for this book? I'll do my absolute best to touch on all the parts that really made me fall in love, but I can promise you now you'll need to go and pick up a copy of Nerd Camp. The dialogue and adventures are laugh out loud funny, and it's just such a fun read! Where else are you going to find a karaoke battle featuring the countries of the world in alphabetical order? Did I peak your interest? Good, read on!

As young characters go, Gabe and his posse of camp buddies are hilariously believable. Weissman gives the readers a camp full of unique and fun personalities. Gabe Gabe loves to make lists. They are a way for him to figure out problems that are bugging him. In fact, he ends up making a list during the book to help with his Zack problem. He lists out "Reasons I Am a Nerd" and "Reasons I Am Not a Nerd" at the beginning of every chapter. What's hilarious, and evident to an older reader, is that every single thing he does during his time at camp falls under both categories! Is there a lesson to be learned here? I think so! Wesley can solve all sorts of problems in his sleep, if you're awake long enough to hear him talk about them. Nikhil was my favorite because he was the character of the bunch who was afraid of everything. Germs, consequences, he reminded me so much of me when I was little! 

Lest you think that the reader will be bogged down with lesson though, let me tell you that they are blended seamlessly into this overall story. The humor takes the edge off of Gabe's learning, but he really does figure out a lot. As Gabe goes through his summer time fun, he learns a lot about himself and those around him. He learns to fit in, he learns that he can be pretty "cool" in his own way, and most of all he learns that sometimes those kids out there who think they are cool are really just insecure. Yup. Deep right? Look at all the lessons you can get from one fun and extremely well written book! Did I mention every kid should read this?

Where was this book when I was an elementary aged kid? Really, Nerd Camp is a book that every young kid should give a read. If they happen to be in Gabe's situation, on the line between "cool" and being themselves, they will connect with the book. Yet if they are in Zack's situation, which I can't describe too much without giving away the story, they'll understand that there are varying shades of "cool" out there. Perfect book for any kid! The message is clear, be yourself. If you are a lover of MG writing, or even if you're just looking for something that will make you giggle, give this one a try! The antics of Gabe, Wesley, and Nikhil are something you won't regret taking part in.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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