Beth G.'s Reviews > Nerd Camp

Nerd Camp by Elissa Brent Weissman
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's review
Oct 05, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: read-in-2011, fiction, funny, summer-camp, gifted-kids, library-books, books-for-kids, author-female, 5-star
Recommended to Beth by: Cybils Nomination
Read from October 12 to 13, 2011

Problem: Am I a nerd who only has nerdy adventures?
Hypothesis: No.

Ten-year-old Gabe is finally getting what he always wanted: a brother. His soon-to-be-stepmother has a son, Zack, who is his age. Gabe is sure that he and Zack will be best friends, but their first meeting is less than promising. Gabe quickly realizes that all the things he likes - math team, reading, museums and libraries - Zack sees as "nerdy". The only thing about Gabe that seems to impress Zack is that Gabe is about to go to sleep-away camp for the summer. What Zack doesn't know is that the camp is the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment, a gathering of nerdy kids from across the country. Over the course of the summer, in between kayak trips and Color War, logic proofs and poetry writing, Gabe keeps a list of his adventures as evidence for whether or not he really is just a nerd, or if he might be something more.

With an eye for quirky detail, Weissman develops Gabe as a sensitive, hyperintelligent 10-year-old boy. In the first chapter, Gabe recalls staying up on New Year's Eve with his math team friends, when they calculated the number of seconds from 8:00 p.m. to midnight. He then thinks about calculating the number of seconds until his train in the morning, but he decides that it will just make him too excited to sleep. From his love of math to his cluelessness about girls, we hear Gabe's perspective on everything. It's a slyly funny narrative, with humor that even clever Gabe probably won't pick on until he's a little older. This is a fabulous contemporary realistic middle grade novel filled with humor and adventure, a great combination. A kid doesn't have to think he might be a nerd to enjoy this book, although he might finish it thinking that such a thing might not be so bad.
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