M IS FOR MAMA'S BOY

NERDS

From the NERDS series , Vol. 2

Turncoat former member of National Espionage Rescue & Defense Society (aka NERDS) Simon (once known as “Choppers”), who can hypnotize with his enormous buckteeth, craves revenge against his erstwhile teammates, enhanced fifth graders whose weaknesses have become superstrengths. Simon recruits Albert Nesbit, a 37-year-old mama’s boy and computer genius, to create a machine that will control all computers. When Albert zaps the NERDS team, the nanobytes in their bodies that give them their superskills go haywire. Most members rely on their training to continue their spy work, but Duncan “Gluestick” Dewey is in crisis (and requires several “man up” talks from various bosses and cohorts). Can the NERDS (especially Duncan) save the world by defeating Simon, Albert and, most frightening of all, Albert’s overprotective mother? Peppered with lessons on cracking codes, ciphers and invisible ink, the second adventure in Buckley’s silly spy-kids spoof is as frenetically goofy as the first. Beaver’s illustrations and Chad W. Beckerman’s art direction make for a terrific package for reluctant readers or book lovers out for thrills, gadgets and larfs. (Adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8109-8986-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2010

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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SWINDLE

From the Swindle series , Vol. 1

Eleven-year-old Griffin Bing is “the man with the plan.” If something needs doing, Griffin carefully plans a fix and his best friend Ben usually gets roped in as assistant. When the town council ignores his plan for a skate park on the grounds of the soon-to-be demolished Rockford House, Griffin plans a camp-out in the house. While there, he discovers a rare Babe Ruth baseball card. His family’s money worries are suddenly a thing of the past, until unscrupulous collectables dealer S. Wendell Palomino swindles him. Griffin and Ben plan to snatch the card back with a little help. Pet-lover Savannah whispers the blood-thirsty Doberman. Rock-climber “Pitch” takes care of scaling the house. Budding-actor Logan distracts the nosy neighbor. Computer-expert Melissa hacks Palomino’s e-mail and the house alarm. Little goes according to plan, but everything turns out all right in this improbable but fun romp by the prolific and always entertaining Korman. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-439-90344-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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