NERDS: M is for Mama's Boy

 

by Michael Buckley

 

Amulet Books

 

Reader Appeal: Grades 4-7 (especially boys)

 

Genre: Juvenile Action

 

PopFam Rating: B

 

Remember yourself in middle school? Unless you were one of those super cool people, you well remember the agony of your one big flaw. The one that made you feel self-conscious and vulnerable. How often did you wish it would just disappear and you could fit in?

 

Well, meet NERDS (the National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society), a team of five 'tween super spies whose greatest strengths were their greatest weaknesses. Like Flinch, who's hyperactive, but with his nanobyte "upgrades" uses his sugar rush of energy to overpower the evil enemy. Or Wheezer, who uses her inhalers as jet-packs, as well as weapons. This team of misfits has been gathered to attend Nathan Hale Elementary, the mysterious hub of NERDS. No one suspects that the janitor is Mr. Brand, the director of NERDS, the librarian is actually the team's information specialist, or that there is a rocket ship stored beneath the gym floor.

 

In M is for Mama's Boy, one of the NERDS has gone rogue. Simon, aka "Choppers" is on a mission to take over the world using his hypnotizing, oversized, buckteeth. Along the way he recruits Albert Nesbitt, a 37 year-old superhero wanna-be, to build a ray gun that "hypnotizes" computers into doing what he wants them to do. Oh, and Albert's overbearing mama comes along as well. Together they form a team to not only overtake the world, but to also rid the world of NERDS.

 

Michael Buckley has hit upon a group of characters whose personalities and "nerdiness" hit a chord with kids. Their quirkiness and adventure keep a kid reading. I mean really, who wouldn't find it fun to imagine they were a secret spy with special abilities, and the center of it all is right under everyone's noses? The appeal is heightened because the heroes are an asthmatic, a kid with braces, a girl who is allergic to everything, a boy with ADHD, and a boy who eats glue. What kid can't relate to that?

 

There are times when the plot slows and gets side-tracked with detailed background on several characters, and it can be difficult to keep some of the characters straight, as they go by several different names. In addition, younger kids might need help reading some of the language used by the author. If you have a child in that category, this is a fun book to read together. I know, because my 9 year-old and I read it aloud and had a lot of fun conversations because of it.

 

Overall, this is a creative and entertaining book. If you are looking for an amusing book for your child, you might consider this, or one of the other books in the NERD series. Not only are they imaginative, but full of secret codes!

 

Let’s Talk About It

 

If your family members are interested in this book, then encourage discussion about it afterward. You can use these questions to get started:

 

• If you could be on the NERDS team, what weakness would they turn into a super-power, and how would you use it?

 

• Using one of the secret codes described in the book, write a note to a family member telling them something you appreciate about them.

 

• Psalm 139:13-14 says: "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it." How does it make you feel knowing that God wanted you made with all your quirks and flaws? Explain.

 

--JW

 

Tags: NERDS,Michael Buckley,National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society,Amulet Books

 

Note: All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.

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