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Nerd Camp Hardcover – April 26, 2011
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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
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 ebweissman.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
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?
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."
Gabe and his bunkmates Wesley and Nikhil are great guys. Yes, they are gifted, but that's not all that they are. They know that other kids make fun of them, but they are also proud of who they are. However, Gabe knows that a little self-improvement, like trying out some cooler hairstyles, doesn't mean that he's turning his back on who he is.
I really can't say enough good things about Nerd Camp. The author's website has some fun supplemental activities, like a scavenger hunt, word games and logic puzzles.
Enjoy it with your favorite nerd (or any kid who loves camp adventures).
UPDATED 3/2013 to add that my 8 1/2 year old son read it, and loved it as well! He chuckled aloud and read funny parts to me as he was reading. And I heard that there's a sequel coming out! Can't wait.
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