Friday, September 5, 2014

Nerd Camp and Nerd Camp 2.0 Elisa Bren Weissman

Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction
Source: Purchased

Nerd Camp Blurb:
Ten-year-old Gabe has just been accepted to the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment. That means he’ll be spending six weeks at sleepaway camp, writing poetry and perfecting logic proofs. SCGE has been a summer home of some legendary middle-school smarty-pants (and future Jeopardy! contestants), but it also has a reputation for being, well, a nerd camp. Gabe isn’t a nerd. Is he? He’s never thought about it much, but compared to Zack, his hip, soon-to-be-stepbrother from LA, Gabe’s not so sure where he falls on the cool scale. A wild summer at camp—complete with a midnight canoe ride to Dead Man’s Island—helps Gabe realize that he and Zack may be different, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be brothers…and friends.

My Thoughts:
Gabe was such a fun character. He'd always wanted a brother. He knew with his parents divorced that was not going to happen. Then he learns his dad is getting remarried and he's going to have a brother after all. There is one problem. His new brother thinks learning over the summer is stupid and Gabe is going to a camp for nerds. he spends so much time trying to keep Zack from knowing he's a nerd. He's so worried about being a kid and fitting in. This would be great for my students because they all want to fit in.  Gabe actually sets things up complete with a problem: "Am I a nerd who only has nerdy adventures?" and a hypothesis, "No". He decides there are things he can tell Zack such as, "Wesley (his bunk mate) says amazing things in his sleep."  Then there is the actual truth he can't tell Zack. Wesley, "solves math problems and brain teasers" in his sleep.  When Zack comes to pick Gabe up what will Zack truly think of his new brother?

Nerd Camp 2.0 Blurb:
Gabe is happily headed back to Nerd Camp, but can he handle a cool-kid invasion?

For Gabe, the equation for ideal summer bliss equals six glorious weeks of vigorous learning immersion at the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment; aka, Nerd Camp. Last year was amazing, and this summer will be even better.

At least, that's what Gabe thinks until a new variable is introduced: Zack, Gabe's cool stepbrother, was supposed to attend a camp nearby, but in the aftermath of a recent wildfire, Zack's camp and nerd camp will be sharing territory. As these two very different worlds collide, will both camps - and both stepbrothers - survive the summer?

My Thoughts:
Zack doesn't always understand Gabe and his nerdiness, but he has accepted him.  When Gabe helps Zack convince his parents that they should let him go to sleep away camp Gabe is excited for Zack. A wildfire changes things for both boys.  Zack's campgrounds and most of the buildings are destroyed.  Gabe's camp extends the hand of welcome to the other camp. They are going to share their campground.  Both Gabe and Zack learn that it will be more difficult than they think.  To start with the "cool" kids try to rule the camp, bullying the nerds.  Then the "nerds" decide to take back the camp. The battles go back and forth.  The one common denominator in all of this is Zack and Gabe.  Zack has discovered he loves to cook.  He is even becoming quite nerdy about it.  He overhears his brother make a comment about him and it hurts him.  He seeks revenge against his brother.  When things once again get out of hand Zack decides he must set things right and find a way to stop the camps from destroying each other. 

This was full of fun, and practical jokes.  There is something here that everyone can relate to.  Most importantly for me was the message that ran through about accepting each other's differences.  I loved this book and can't keep it on my shelves at school.  This should be a must read in all middle schools.

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