Word Nerd
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Word Nerd

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  971 ratings  ·  191 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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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
Best Books For 12-13 Year Old Girls
18th out of 124 books — 64 voters
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. RowlingWord Nerd by Susin NielsenThe Giving Tree by Shel SilversteinThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakNeed by Carrie Jones
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2nd out of 63 books — 9 voters

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Community Reviews

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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.
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...more
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...more
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...more
Aug 24, 2009 Becky 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...more
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...more
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
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
Jenny J
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).
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...more
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...more
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...more
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 3⁄4, 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 a...more
word nerd by: susin neilsen-fernlund is about a young boy named ambose he was picked on and he had a really bad peanut allergy and one day he was eating his lunch and the bullies who picked on him came and started to talk to him and told him to close his eyes when he opened them he noticed nothing was wrong so he continued eating and started haveing trouble breathing and noticed they had put a peanut in his sandwitch. later he woke up in a hospital and saw his mom crying later he went home. ambo...more
Word nerd was a great book. it took place in vancouver. the main charachter ambrose has a very over protective mom. one day 3 kids that ambrose likes to classify as the three stooges slip a peanut into his sandwich knowing he has an anaphalactic alergy to peanuts. ambrose ate the peanut and nearly died. after wich he quits public school and becomes home schooled, well not home schooled, the school division sends him work and he does it at home. lives in the basement of the econmopouloses house....more
Ambrose is an odd kid. Because he has an anaphalactic reaction to peanuts, his mother is over protective. Afraid to loose him after the sudden death of his father, Ambrose's mother won't allow him to do anything without her. No hanging out with friends after school, no sports. Add to that the fact that they have moved every few years so that his mother can take another low paying sessional lecturer job, and it becomes easy to see why Ambrose has trouble relating to his peers.

Things get so bad th...more
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Word Nerd is an amazing book. This book teaches you about bullying, acceptance, and finding yourself.

Ambrose is just a regular kid without a dad, and a very overprotective Mom. He lives in Vancouver in a basement. He doesn't have a lot of friends-okay, let's admit it: Ambrose doesn't have ANY friends, and he's considered a nerd in the vicious food chain of middle school. One day, a couple of bullies decide to play a little trick on him: slip a peanut into his sandwich. It nearly kills him, and h...more
Manuel Campos
If you like scramble then you will like a book this book that the characters use scramble to know each other.The book Nerd word is filled with adventure.With a kid that likes to ask a lot of questions to people that he dose not even know. Ambrose the main character dose not have a dad so his just with his mom moving form place to place. Ambrose is not afraid to try things that he is not suppose to do, even though he has an over protected mother.This is reminds me of my sister on how she acts and...more
Vikki VanSickle
This book has been much lauded, and rightfully so; it’s tightly written, funny, poignant (but not in a way that will make boys cringe), and compelling.

Ambrose thinks things are looking up when he and his mother, an English professor in search of tenure, arrive in Vancouver. But then Ambrose is almost killed in a not-so-innocent prank and his too good to be true upstairs neighbours (and landlords) turn out to be the parents of an ex-convict named Cosmo who is moving back home. But can someone who...more
Ambrose Bukowski and his mom have moved frequently to various college towns throughout Canada. She is a per-course instructor with hopes that she can get a permanent position. As that doesn't pan out and Ambrose repeatedly finds difficulty in settling in, they move on.

Ambrose is actually a pretty good kid. He has gone his whole life without knowing his father, who died of a brain aneurism while Ambrose's mom was still pregnant. He is a bit on the quirky side, but he is essentially a good kid. Un...more
Word Nerd by Susin Neilsen is a terrifically funny book aimed at middle schoolers, though it can certainly be enjoyed by teens and adults as well. Twelve year old Ambrose is the ultimate nerd; brainy and socially awkward to boot. He also has a dealy peanut allergy. He lives with his widowed over-protective mom in Vancouver, and because of their constant moving and his lack of social graces, he is completely friendless. When Ambrose befriends Cosmo, his 25 year old neighbor who just happens to be...more
Word Nerd was cute. I write that word with much deliberation, as I believe the book deserves the connotation. Being cute is better than being ugly, but not as good as being beautiful. In other words, cute is slightly above average. Cute also implies that something is light, fluffy, and cannot be taken seriously. While the premise of Word Nerd had the potential (as all books with three stars seem to) to be a beautiful story, it fell short. Despite its unique ideas and well-written style, the book...more
V (bookborne)
I sat down with this book, intending to read a few pages while waiting for my husband, and stood up two hours later having devoured the whole thing. Sorry, Joe. WORD NERD is a hilarious and heartwarming book with a voice that made it impossible to stop reading.

Nielsen writes like she has lived in the head of a twelve year old boy. I mean that as a compliment. The first person voice of Ambrose is pitch perfect, and I couldn't help falling in (maternal) love with him. He's precocious, hilarious, a...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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