Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Nerd Camp by Elissa Weissman

Nerd CampThis book was recommended by our school librarian, and I gave it a rating of five out of five. Gabe is accepted to attend a six-week summer camp for gifted enrichment, a nerd camp, but he wants to keep it secret from his soon-to-be stepbrother, Zach. He's afraid Zach won't like him if he finds out. Gabe keeps a record of things he does at camp to figure out if he's a nerd who only has nerdy adventures. However, Gabe has a great time at the camp and writes letters to his friends and Zach about the things he is doing. A girl named Amanda tells him that they're destined to be together, because they often end up doing the same activities, no matter how hard Gabe tries to avoid her. The one thing all of the campers are looking forward to is Color Wars. The week-long competition is full of challenges to decide the winning cabin for the year. Gabe must kayak to Dead Man's Island, in the middle of the night, to help his team win, but he finds a surprise along the way.

Gabe is a great character as he battles with his internal conflicts. He tries to impress Zach by showing him that he's not a nerd, but he wonders if it's worth it since Zach writes worse than a little kid and hates reading. I like how his character changed as he got to know Amanda better. She even shows him that he's looking at his life backwards; he does adventurous things that happen to be a little nerdy.

Guys Read #1: Funny Business Edited by Jon Scieszka

Guys Read: Funny Business (Guys Read, #1)This book is a collection of humorous stories, written by well-known authors, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Authors such as Jack Gantos, Eoin Coffer, David Lubar, and Christopher Paul Curtis contributed stories to this book. The stories start off sounding almost like memoirs, realistic narratives about the author's lives. Most of them stay realistic fiction, but there are some moments of fantasy/science fiction. The topics range from a wacky friend with the idea of wrapping the author in adhesive bandages like a mummy, to brothers pranking each other, to aliens being defeated with the power of broccoli, to a crotchety grandfather with a long stick for whacking the kids.

I enjoyed the chapter about a boy writing letters back and forth with an author to complete a school assignment. As a teacher, I could identify with both characters, especially the boy who just wanted to get the assignment over with. The chapter about the turkey was a bit strange. The father bought a turkey to help make his son more manly, but the boy was convinced that the turkey wanted to kill him. The boy ending up out-"foxing" the turkey.