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Word Nerd Paperback – May 11, 2010

3.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Realistic fiction for tweens
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Editorial Reviews

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 live upstairs. Ambrose discovers that he and his neighbor both love Scrabble, so, without his mother's knowledge, he talks Cosmo into taking him to a Scrabble Club. For the first time, Ambrose has a friend, but when his mother finds out, she starts packing up to move again to get him away from the ex-con. This prompts Ambrose to run away, determined to get his mother to listen to him. Ambrose is a neat kid who is comfortable in his own skin, despite always being an outsider. Cosmo knows he made some wrong choices, but he is regretful, as well as caring and thoughtful, and a great morale booster for Ambrose. This is a tender, often funny story with some really interesting characters. It will appeal to word nerds, but even more to anyone who has ever longed for acceptance or had to fight unreasonable parental restrictions.—Shannon Seglin, Patrick Henry Library, Vienna, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“This is a tender, often funny story with some really interesting characters. It will appeal to word nerds, but even more to anyone who has ever longed for acceptance or had to fight unreasonable parental restrictions.”
Starred Review from School Library Journal

“…a beautifully drawn character…. [a] funny, wry tale, a tale that involves a lot of Scrabble (at the championship level), the reformation of an ex-con/druggie and the coming-into-himself of a boy. And there’s a bit of love, too, actually.”
The Globe and Mail


From the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 800 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Tundra Books; 2nd Printing edition (May 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 088776990X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887769900
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #351,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This was a good story, but the language and themes are definitely more appropriate for middle school students. It is rated for age 9 and up, but pedophilia (with graphic description of what this could involve), the words "boner", "f____ing" and "sh___" (written like this, not in full), as well as more than one passing references to breasts and arousal, are not what I would expect to see in elementary school novels. The specific nature of the less desirable aspects of this book distracted me from the well-constructed story. It should be rated for 11 or 12 and up.
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Format: Paperback
I actually bought this book as a gift for my 13-year-old daughter, Amy. But I started reading and got so hooked that I decided she'd better wait until I'd finished. (When she got her chance to read it, Amy loved it as much as I did.)

It's a terrific novel -- funny and quirky and genuinely poignant -- about the outsider in all of us. Twelve-year-old Ambrose is nearly murdered by a peanut as the story begins. By the time we're partway through, he's immersed in the world of competitive Scrabble -- which turns out to be enthralling.

Ambrose is a great character, plucky and resourceful, never giving in to self-pity no matter how much life dog-piles on top of him.

If you're a parent, buy it for your kid. But read it first -- seriously.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderfully funny heartwarming book. The characters are very real and likable. Anyone who grew up poor or was viciously teased as a youth can relate to the main character, Ambrose. He's a sweet kid and I was very sad to see the book end. I wanted to continue on his adventures. Without giving away the plot Ambrose is a very goofy kid with a good heart, nowhere to fit in, and an intensely overprotective mother. Bullying, autism, unlikely friendships, grief, and second chances are themes in this book.

This book is written honestly and doesn't talk down to its audience as some children's novels do. The language in this story is a little mature and I can't help but think very realistic for a boy Ambrose's age. Nothing is ever crass or used for shock value, potty humor, etc. but this story is being told through the eyes of a 12 3/4 year old and it's told realistically. If the idea of your child reading a book that contains the word 'testicle' or a censored "F___" (written out like that in the book) makes you uncomfortable... Then I suggest you read the book before you let your child. (You won't regret it.)

I read this book out of curiosity because I liked the cover. I'm very glad I did. I enjoyed every page.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Please put everything down and read this book! Ambrose is a unique kid trying to find his way in the world while trying to overcome bullying, an overbearing mom, moving constantly and being without a dad. He finds acceptance and friendship in his ex-con neighbor, Cosmo, who is a good person who took a few wrong turns in life. Both find a bond through their love of Scrabble. This is one of those books that you want to keep reading forever, because you don't want to lose your connection with the characters. Great book for 7th grade and up. Some references to drugs, sex and curse words, but the author does so in a very gentle and considerate way.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A YA story of a lonely kid who becomes deeply involved in playing Scrabble competitively. Through this, he becomes less lonely, develops various friendships, and more...a very enjoyable read for kids and adults alike! Not only that, but this will build a person's vocabulary, especially if a Scrabble aficionado!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this to my class. It started out interesting but never really went anywhere. There were a few times where the author attempted to think like a teenage boy and referred to the bodies of young women Ambrose meant, but it didn't ring true. The story didn't need it.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Imagine being twelve and not having any friends, and the highlight of your week is playing Scrabble with your mother. Welcome to the world of Ambrose, the boy who loved words but just didn’t fit him. His mother kept a short leash on him as she’s overly protective; always fearing the worse will emerge and swallow him up. Poor Ambrose, lived in a plastic bubble, his mother didn’t realize the harm she was causing her son as she believed she was just keeping him safe from the dangerous world that surrounded him. Being so sheltered and always on the move to another city, as danger crept too close to where they were, Ambrose was a target and bullied repeatedly. My heart went out to him. He had no choice but to listen to his mother as he tried to act strong when the words and the actions beat down on him when inside he was lonely and hurt. He finally gets a break when his mom signs him up for correspondence school and this action takes a dramatic change in his life. More time alone at home allows him to become a more independent person, and the idea of less lying gets swept under the rug. He’s becoming a person, he’s speaking out for himself and for once in his life he acquires a friend. Ok, it might be the friend you’d hope for but if you throw stereotypes away, you’d change your mind. As Ambrose starts to become a person, he finally likes himself and he finds worth in life and within. Sounds too perfect…. and it is. Mom, she blind to the fact of who Ambrose is becoming until it’s too late, he’s found himself and he doesn’t want to go back to the child that mom wants. The descriptions of the way Ambrose lives, I know other teens would be embarrassed yet Ambrose knew it was the best his mother could provide.Read more ›
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