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Nerd Camp Hardcover – April 26, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


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

Nerd Camp.
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

Nerd Camp

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

About the Author

Elissa Brent Weissman is the author of Standing for Socks. She is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland and Roehampton University in London, England and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her husband, Grant. Connect online at

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 810L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (April 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 144241703X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442417038
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #396,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan H Liu on May 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Nerd Camp is based on the Johns Hopkins' Center for Talented Youth, but anyone who has been to an academics-based summer camp will recognize the setting. Gabe is a 10-year-old nerd who is really excited about going to the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment for the first time, where he'll get to take classes in poetry and logical reasoning along with traditional summer camp activities like kayaking and swimming. But then he meets his soon-to-be stepbrother, Zack, a kid who is ultracool and makes fun of nerds. Gabe is caught between his love of learning and his desire to impress Zack.

It's a very fun story with delightful characters, but ultimately it's about embracing who you are and not worrying about what others think. In this day and age you'd think that we wouldn't need books like this any more, but with incidents like Star Wars Katie getting teased for her taste in pop culture, apparently it's a lesson that kids still need to learn. Though there are parts of the book that apply to non-nerds (like Zack), I'd say the target audience is still kids with a love of learning, particularly those who are starting to feel the pressure of being "cool."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By PBR on July 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
My soon-to-be nine-year-old son read this book within hours of bringing it home from the bookstore, and has read it at least twice more in the two days since. He couldn't pin down what he liked best about it - just that he really liked it all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By snail friend on March 15, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book would be entertaining for someone who had attended a summer camp for "gifted" kids. There is one situation that drags on due just to it being too long, but overall this was fun and interesting. There is very little teasing or mean-spiritedness between "nerd" and non-"nerd" characters, which was nice.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My 12-year-old daughter and I read Nerd Camp by Elissa Brent Weissman together. It was the first time we'd buckled down with a read aloud in a long time, and it was just the kind of book we like to enjoy together -- funny and sweet.

I'm not big on the word "nerd," because it's used as an insult, and like any insult it makes people feel badly about who they are. However, it totally works in this book. I think that the secret that most adult nerds know deep down is that they don't really care what other people think. The cover shows this delightful juxtaposition perfectly -- there are some mathematical equations for heat and the perfect angle for roasting the marshmallow. The title font shows the different elements, camp (wood), and books, graph paper, and circuitry.

Gabe, 10, has been accepted in a prestigious 6-week summer camp, SCGE or the Summer Gift for Gifted Enrichment, which other kids in the school call the Smart Camp for Geeks and Eggheads. He's excited about going, but he wants to impress his step-brother-to-be Zack, the ultimate cool guy, who he's just recently met. He begins wondering how he's going to look in Zack's eyes. He knows that there's a lot of cool things that go on at camp, like boating and swimming and an obstacle course, not to mention Color War.

So, he does what any geek gifted kid would do -- he makes a logic proof, which he adds to throughout the summer:

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

The proof is divided into two columns:

Things I can tell Zack (I am not a nerd)
Things I can't tell Zack (I am a nerd)

For example, "My bunkmates are really cool, and we became friends right away!" buuut. . . "They like learning digits of Pi.
Read more ›
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By M. Kelly on February 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
There's never been a better time to be a nerd. Computer geeks run the world, math rock is a thing, and even thick black glasses are cool. So a novel that celebrates all things nerdy is welcome, even better when it is genuinely funny.

Our hero is Gabe, a geeky ten-year-old who gets a stepbrother his age about a week before he heads off to the Summer Center for Gifted Achievement. Gabe is thrilled about both, but when he meets Zack, who surfs and spends most of his time on his iPhone, he begins to see himself through new eyes. True to his nature, he hypothesizes that he is not just a nerd who only has nerdy adventures, and decides to spend his time at camp working it out.

What won me over about Gabe, as well as his bunkmates Wesley and Nikhil, is their total enthusiasm for everything. As a teacher, I can't imagine anything better than a group of adolescents who are excited and curious about all the possibilities they are offered (although I did snort knowingly when a lice epidemic is announced and a student asks for the genus and species. I teach Gifted and Talented classes.) For example, the boys try to make their cabin cooler, so they decorate with the theme of music and sports. Of course, the end up with pictures of Beethoven, a treble and bass clef, and the official rules of badminton. It's one of those moments that here in the south, you would shake your head and say, "Bless."

That's the best part of Nerd Camp. Author Elissa Brent Weissman never denies the nerdiness of all the characters, but she always makes them more endearing than they are dorky. I'm happy that they have a safe place to love whatever it is you love, without fear of ridicule. We all deserve our own version of a nerd camp.
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