by Elissa Brent Weissman
First sentence: “It was so late that it was almost tomorrow.”
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Gabe is a nerd. Seriously. He’s smart, he loves math and poetry and reading, and he’s just been accepted into the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment — a six-week sleepaway camp that you have to take a test to get into.
He’s okay with all this — well, in fact, it’s more than okay: he’s really, really excited — until he meets his soon-to-be stepbrother, Zach. Who is not a nerd. In fact, he is disdainful of all things nerdy. Gabe doesn’t quite know how to react to that: he really, really wants to get along with his new brother (he’s always longed for a sibling), but he doesn’t want to give up all the things he loves.
Thankfully, there’s SCGE camp to help him out: are the adventures he has over the course of the summer negated by their nerdiness, or cool in their own right?
I adored this book. Seriously. Perhaps it’s because I’m a mother of nerds, and one myself, but I thought Weissman just got the whole nerd kid culture — not to mention that wonderful awkwardness of being 10-years-old — spot-on. Every little thing, from the awkwardness around new girls to the learning pi to the 20th digit, was adorable. (Perhaps I shouldn’t call a boy book adorable. It’d turn the boys off. But seriously, it was.) I loved Gabe from the get-go, and it didn’t take long for his camp friends Wesley and Nikhil to grow on me, either. I also really, really wanted to go to the camp. I’m not much into logic proofs, but Weissman made them seem really, really cool.
The only down side was that I felt Zach was a little shallow: all “cool” kids aren’t down on reading or horrible at spelling. (There’s also the side issue of why everything has to be either/or: do we really have to be smart OR cool? Maybe in 5th grade, yes…) But, because Zach was hardly a character, it didn’t bring the awesomeness level of this one down.
I suppose the question, in the end, is: will the boy nerds read this one? I hope so. Really.