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Word Nerd

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,210 ratings  ·  229 reviews
Twelve-year-old Ambrose is a glass-half-full kind of guy. A self-described “friendless nerd,” he moves from place to place every couple of years with his overprotective mother, Irene. When some bullies at his new school almost kill him by slipping a peanut into his sandwich — even though they know he has a deathly allergy — Ambrose is philosophical. Irene, however, is not ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 9th 2008 by Tundra Books
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. RowlingWord Nerd by Susin NielsenThe Giving Tree by Shel SilversteinCity of Bones by Cassandra ClareFallen by Lauren Kate
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2nd out of 63 books — 11 voters
Secrets of the Realm by Bev StoutThe Fault in Our Stars by John GreenThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
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25th out of 225 books — 150 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,252)
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"This book is peanut-free" is what made me pick it up in the children's section at the library. It's about a scrabble playing misfit with a deadly peanut allergy but totally inappropriate for children because of "crass boy language." This should be in the YA section.
Dylan Tsao
Amazing book, ending was great and it made me happy. I liked this book because of the character that slowly unfolds throughout the book. Many ups and downs throughout the book. I got to see how Ambrose survived with being bullied and overly protected. Nothing would stop this boy from doing what he loves most which is hanging out with Cosmo. This book isn't too long and recommend this book to people that need a break from a long book. There is one mystery that Ambrose wants to find out and that i ...more
I found this author late. I had seen this book in the library for years but I never picked it up. A few colleagues had read the book and raved about it but I was resistant. This also held true for her latest book, The Journal of Henry K. Larsen where I just did not like the cover. However, with that book, I picked it up because everyone was raving. I could not put it down and the same goes with this book.

What this books is about:
Ambroise is a 12 year old with many issues - fatherless, severe pea
Ian Tymms
Great book - one of those page turners that is all heart. Couldn't agree more with Jabiz and Paula's reviews.
Rachel Hartman
I don't usually enjoy realistic YA, but I found this utterly charming. It was the voice, frankly. I know this kid. I've BEEN this kid. Socially awkward, lying to spare mom's feelings, thinking my too-small purple pants are awesome. Funny, and occasionally lightly mortifying.

In addition, the book is set in my neighbourhood, which was hilariously fun. Like seeing someone you know in a movie, and you can't stop giggling.

Fair warning for the squeamish: some bad language and discussion of bodily func
The cover:

I love the "peanut-free" marking at the top-right corner, especially since it's so relevant. The colours complement each other well, but I wish the background wasn't completely black. A little setting would've been nice.

The book:

The humour in the first-person voice is apparent from the first exchange shown between Ambrose and a group of bullies. His frank, often unintentionally funny style of talking gains him enemies just as easily as friends, while the reader is endeared to him by hi
Aug 24, 2009 Rebecca rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 7th grade and up
So charming! Ambrose, a 12-year-old living with his single mom, has his hands full with his peanut allergy (the cover says "this book is peanut-free"), his mom's overprotectiveness, and the school bullies. But when his mom starts working nights and enrolls him in online school, he's got some unsupervised time...time enough to meet the upstairs neighbors' son Cosmo, who has just gotten out of jail. Of course, Ambrose's mom forbids him to spend time with Cosmo, but Ambrose is pining for a father f ...more
[Read for Puget Sound Council Review]

Ambrose, the main character in Word Nerd is somewhat reminiscent of the main character in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. They posses a similar social awkwardness and the author of each book does an excellent job of showing the reader the mechanics of each child’s brain. Susin Nielsen occasionally falters in her depiction of Ambrose’s young mind, giving his voice an inappropriate adult sound; he is smart and has an incredibly extensive vocab
Jabiz Raisdana
So at one point, I am on the airplane tears in my eyes (tears of joy) and laughing out loud. This book is beautiful and simple and perfect for every middle school student. Ambrose is a quirky, funny, and relateable 12 year old that I could not help but fall in love with.

A simple yet moving plot, characters you will love and hate-- this book needs to be read. If you liked Wonder and Diary of a Part Time Indian than get your hands on this book. I already miss Ambrose and Cosmo.
Shruthi Natarajan
Dec 15, 2014 Shruthi Natarajan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Shruthi by: Ian Tymms
Amazing book! I was really hooked on to it, and I started and finished it in one day! It is a pretty fast read kind of book, but it explored a lot of situations faced by lonely, judged/bullied people. The language the author has used is very familiar to how we as teens talk every day! So it is easy to relate to the different characters in the book. Overall, i think it is a really good comfort book, and it is worth the read.
Paula Guinto
Wow. What a lovely little book. I laughed out loud all throughout, felt my heart stop at times, and now want to play scrabble with Ambrose and Cosmo.

Nielsen is hilarious. His character development elegant. Excellent page turner. If you guys haven't read this book, you must pick it up pronto.

Diarrhea poo. That. Is. All.
Excellent! Set in Canada. Ambrose is a nerd whose newest way of coping with a new school and with his social difficulties is through a series of lies and by attending a Scrabble Club with the ex-con son of his landlord.

In some ways, the book reminded me of Waiting for Normal in that there are clearly some deep, serious issues at work and Ambrose's mom clearly has some coping issues of her own, but they don't necessarily weigh down your spirits as you read Ambrose's story. The story is balanced
Susan Nielsen’s book, ‘Word Nerd’ shows the friendship of an ex-criminal called Cosmo with Ambrose, a boy who gets bullied. Since Cosmo was a criminal, I thought that all criminals are bad and that we shouldn’t go near them. But, now after reading the book, I now think that some people do actually deserve a second chance. We’re all humans and humans always make mistakes.
This book reminded me in some ways of "About a Boy". Ambrose is a socially awkward boy who dresses weird and often gets beat up. Irene is a depressed single mother. And, Cosmo is a "father-figure" with suspect motives. Instead of music, however, the characters in this book share a love of words, Scrabble in particular. Some of the language and themes are a little "adult" so I think it is a more appropriate novel for a middle-school aged child despite the fact that I found the book in the young r ...more

Twelve-year-old Ambrose is a glass-half-full kind of guy. A self-described “friendless nerd,” he moves from place to place every couple of years with his overprotective mother, Irene. When some bullies at his new school almost kill him by slipping a peanut into his sandwich — even though they know he has a deathly allergy — Ambrose is philosophical. Irene, however, is not and decides that Ambrose will be home-schooled.

Alone in the evenings when Irene goes
Nicola Mansfield
May 05, 2014 Nicola Mansfield rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Nicola by: children's librarian
Ambrose captured my heart! I love him so much, like a mother and as a vision of myself when I was 12/13. Ambrose is a nerd, gets picked on at school, has an overprotective single mother, wears strange clothes, speaks without thinking, has no social graces but can play a mean game of Scrabble. Ambrose probably has Asperger's but why he is this way isn't addressed; it's simply the story of a boy learning to be who he is, get along with others, and actually be happy. I fell in love with Ambrose rig ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Imagine being twelve and not having any friends, and the highlight of your week is playing Scrabble with your mother. Welcome to the world of Ambrose, the boy who loved words but just didn’t fit him. His mother kept a short leash on him as she’s overly protective; always fearing the worse will emerge and swallow him up. Poor Ambrose, lived in a plastic bubble, his mother didn’t realize the harm she was causing her son as she believed she was just keeping him safe from the dangerous world that su ...more
Jenny T
Bullied by boys at school, lonely, and overprotected by his widowed mother, 12-year-old Ambrose finds solace and acceptance in the Scrabble Club in this coming-of-age story. Hilarious and heartwarming, but this book probably should have been shelved with the Young Adult materials, although more mature children would probably love it. I highly recommend this book to anyone who's ever felt socially awkward.
This Canadian title is a quick fun read and as the title suggests is about the power of words as enjoyed by a 12 year old misfit Scrabble player. There is lots to talk about. A fifth grade class might be able to take it on, but for the occasional use of accurate body part names in appropriate context, which might freak out some teachers.
Nancy Brady
A cute book with a protagonist who is self-described nerd with an overprotective mother. Beaten up by just about everybody, he becomes cyber- and home-schooled! Loneliness leads to his meeting new friends, ones his mother doesn't exactly approve of, but it may be just what he needs. Definitely worth the read!
Jacqueline Pearce
Great characters! I enjoyed this story (for ages 11-14 approx) very much. Also fun to read about the characters going to places I know so well (set in my home town).
Word Nerd was a great account, and I can relate to so many parts of it. However, I would only recommend it if you're okay with some mild language. SPOILER ALERT! READ THIS REVIEW AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Word Nerd is about a boy named Ambrose who plays Scrabble every night, with his mother. He lives in a basement suite. The people upstairs have a child who got thrown in jail. He had served his time and got escorted home. Ambrose noticed he played Scrabble, and signed both of them up for a Scrabble club.
Iris Fagniez
Mar 11, 2015 Iris Fagniez is currently reading it
This is my binge book.
From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 5–7—Twelve-year-old Ambrose Bukowski and his widowed, overprotective mother, an adjunct professor, move frequently. When he almost dies after he bites into a peanut that bullies put in his sandwich, just to see if he is really allergic, Irene has had enough, and she decides to homeschool him. While she teaches at night, Ambrose gets to know 25-year-old-Cosmo, recently released from jail and the son of the Bukowskis' warmhearted Greek landlords who
ISS Singapore
Twelve-year-old Ambrose is a glass-half-full kind of guy. A self-described “friendless nerd,” he moves from place to place every couple of years with his overprotective mother, Irene. When some bullies at his new school almost kill him by slipping a peanut into his sandwich — even though they know he has a deathly allergy — Ambrose is philosophical. Irene, however, is not and decides that Ambrose will be home-schooled.

Alone in the evenings when Irene goes to work, Ambrose pesters Cosmo, the twen
This is a peanut-free book about competitive scrabble and finding your place in the world. Ambrose is a misfit. He has no friends; he doesn't fit in at school. Then one day some kids put a peanut in his sandwich at school. This almost kills him since he is severely allergic to peanuts. His mom throws a fit and decides he needs to try correspondence school. So now he spends all his time in their basement apartment doing school work and playing scrabble with his mom. That is until he meets his ups ...more
Ambrose is a quirky kid. He wears purple cords and bright green and red shirts, and a knitted hat with a pompom. He's a smart aleck. He's intelligent. And the kids at school do not like him.

This is the story of a young misfit, who finds a way to fit in and expand his world with Scrabble. The story itself is (and believe me I don't like to say this about books) kinda "cute." It's a very hopeful story meant for younger readers - perhaps readers who do not fit in.

I found the things I liked most abo
Ambrose's peanut allergy plus some relentless bullies equals being yanked from a Vancouver school by his single mom, who still mourns the sudden death of his father many years ago. Ambrose has no friends, only the kindly Greek couple who rent their basement apartment to his mom. When their son Cosmo bursts back on the scene after being in prison, Ambrose's mom freaks as this is just one more potential danger in their life. However, Ambrose and Cosmo build a secret alliance involving cute girls, ...more
Canadian Children's Book Centre
Ambrose Bukowski, 12 34, has no fashion sense, no people skills and is a perfect target for school bullies. And he’s deathly allergic to peanuts. But one thing he has done successfully is to create a total fantasy world full of great friends and invitations to birthday parties to make his excessively overprotective mother, Irene, feel a little less guilty about having moved them once again (because Ambrose never had friends in Edmonton, Regina or Kelowna). But his plan backfires spectacularly an ...more
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Susin got her start feeding cast and crew on the popular television series, Degrassi Junior High. They hated her food, but they saw a spark in her writing. Nielsen went on to pen sixteen episodes of the hit TV show. Since then, Nielsen has written for over 20 Canadian TV series. Her first young adult novel, Word Nerd, was published in 2008 to critical acclaim. It won multiple Young Readers’ Choice ...more
More about Susin Nielsen...
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