Gr 4-5–Gabe, 10, is excited about getting two things he has wanted: a brother and to go to camp. The brother is Zack, the son of his father’s fiancée, who is also 10 and lives across the country in L.A. The camp is the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment. Gabe wants to appear just as cool to Zack as he thinks Zack is, so he keeps the “nerd” details about camp to himself. At SCGE, the campers have lessons in the morning, then traditional camp activities in the afternoon and evening. The campers are typical kids, pulling pranks, whining about some things, and getting homesick; they just happen to be extremely bright. Gabe enjoys his bunkmates and loves everything about camp except the food. Zack is envious of Gabe’s experience, so Gabe keeps him up-to-date on what’s happening, sort of. He keeps a chart of things he can tell his stepbrother and the details that probably shouldn’t be mentioned, e.g., that they like learning the digits of Pi. The boys’ characters are well developed and although the three adults play a minor role in the story, they are civil to one another and to both boys. In addition to being a good, humorous story, the book also illustrates that kids who are bright are just kids and can enjoy a lot of different things.–Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC
- SLJ June 2011
Weissman, Elissa Brent (Author)
May 2011. 272 p. Atheneum, hardcover, $15.99. (9781442417038).
Perfect for kids whose quest for knowledge isn’t satisfied by nine months of school, Weissman’s latest
novel features an appealing 10-year-old who’s more certain of facts and figures than of his worth. Gabe
questions his own “coolness” when he meets the boy who’s about to become his stepbrother; they’re the
same age but worlds apart intellectually, and Gabe tries to hide from Zack all traces of his own nerdy
tendencies. Weissman portrays Gabe as a sweet only child who’s as excited about getting the sibling he
has always wanted as he is about being admitted to a “Gifted Enrichment” camp. Over the course of six
weeks of camp, he revels in his adventures and then analyzes them for their nerdiness quotient, working
out logic proofs to help him figure out how much to tell Zack. Weissman depicts a camp whose academic
classes sound almost as fun as kayaking and color war. These smart, funny kids learn something from a
lice infestation, and it’s only logical that Gabe also gains confidence in his own opinions and individuality.
--BOOKLIST, May 1, 2011
by Elissa Brent Weissman
Intermediate Atheneum 261 pp.
4/11 978-1-4424-1703-8 $15.99
Gabe’s father is remarrying and giving him the (step-) brother he’s always hoped for, but ten-year-old Gabe realizes almost immediately that cool Zack, also ten, will not be impressed that his new brother is heading off to the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment, a.k.a. “Nerd Camp.” Once there, Gabe loves camp with its interesting classes (e.g., Logical Reasoning and Poetry Writing), its traditions like Color Wars, and his new friends, but he continues to worry about Zack’s reaction. As the six weeks go along, Gabe creates a chart of “Things I Can Tell Zack” (“We put music and sports pictures on our walls”) and “Things I Can’t Tell Zack” (“They are of Beethoven and the rules of badminton”). The title may limit the book’s appeal, but kids who are even a little bit nerdy themselves will enjoy the humor and will relate to Gabe’s concerns about appearing geeky. Weissman (The Trouble with Mark Hopper, rev. 11/09) gets the small details just right (like the way Gabe and his roommates keep track of how many seconds it takes their bunkmate to get out of his twisted-up sleeping bag each morning), and the relationships and the stories come to a satisfying and reasonably realistic conclusion.
--The Horn Book, July/August 2011
By Elissa Brent Weissman
Atheneum. $15.99. Ages 8-12
Gabe, 10, can hardly wait to dive into the sonnets, syllogisms and scavenger hunts at the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment, a sleepaway camp for bright kids. That is, until he discovers that his soon-to-be stepbrother, Zack, scorns such things as nerdy. With his cellphone, surfboard and poor spelling, Zack seems the epitome of cool, and bespectacled Gabe yearns for a similar sangfroid. Gabe’s path to geeky self-acceptance is filled with quirky adventure. There’s a UFO sighting, a stealth kayak mission and a clandestine lice-breeding lab, along with bunkmates who recite the digits of pi (for fun!) and tape pictures of Beethoven to their cabin walls. Fans of “The Big Bang Theory” may recognize in Gabe and his smart, funny friends the youthful counterparts of the zany brainiacs on that popular TV show.
--Washington Post 6/17/11