I'd been preparing a Christmas package for my cousin's 9-year old son (and 13-year old daughter) and came across NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society by Michael Buckley. I can't wait to hear what 9-year old Luis thinks of this book!
Fifth grader Jackson Jones of Arlington, Virginia was very, very, very, very, very, very very, very popular at Nathan Hale Elementary School. Head of his PeeWee football team and with a catchy touchdown dance, Jackson was so popular that his fellow students copied his every move. Jackson and his friends had a particular game - catching and tormenting the many nerds that populate Nathan Hale Elementary School. Jackson orchestrated and executed spitwad attacks, "purple nurples, blistering pink bellies, cruel charley horses, nasty noogies" and atomic wedgies - just for fun.
But when Jackson's visit to the dentist leads to major braces, his life changes dramatically. He's soon a nerd himself. His old friends pick on him. And the nerds he'd picked on want nothing to do with him. Lonely, Jackson passes the time trying to uncover the many secrets at Nathan Hale Elementary School.
His greatest discovery is the existence of NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue and Defense Society, a secret government agency composed of the most elite and successful secret agents. Billions of dollars in research and scientific support have given these elite agent amazing physical and techonological powers. For NERDS, the government has recruited the only group not afraid of technology - children. The team is made up of the same nerds and geeks that Jackson had enjoyed tormenting during his popular days!
The NERDS are made up of: Matilda with the inhalers that can be used as rockets or a blow torch. Melinda turns out to be a gifted killer who can use any household item as a deadly weapons. Bucktooth Heathcliff can use his front teeth to hypnotize anyone and force them to obey his commands. Junkfood addict Flinch has superhuman strength, partly linked to his huge consumption of candy and sugar. Ruby with the rashes and hives turns out to be highly sensitive to falsehood - she is a human lie detector. Duncan, the paste-eater, who can stick to walls and trap enemies with his special glue. Jackson's braces are upgraded with billions of dollars of nanotechnology - so that they work like transformers and can do anything that he can picture in his mind! The NERDS travel on the "School bus" a super rocket.
Jackson wants to be one of the NERDS so badly. He doesn't understand the antagonism - his fellow agents seem to dislike him no matter what he does. When Jackson recognizes how he'd been a jerk to the NERDS, he tries to make it up to them as they work together to figure out the sudden spate of kidnappings and natural disasters.
Further complicating things for Jackson is the appearance of the former child beauty pagent winner and professional assassin, Mindy (a.k.a. the "Hyena").
NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society is witty and action-packed. The description of the elementary school social hierarchy and taunts was particularly well done. It's sure to be a huge hit with young readers - whether they're girls or boys!
Publisher: Amulet Books; 1 edition (September 1, 2009), 336 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:
Michael Buckley is the author of the New York Times bestselling series and Today Show Al Roker Book Club pick The Sisters Grimm. He has also written and developed shows for Nickelodeon, Disney, MTV Animation, the Sci- Fi Channel, the Discovery Channel, and VH1. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Alison, and son, Finn.
Thank you so much to Laura, Abrams/Amulet Books, and Hatchette Book Group for this review opportunity!