What It Is
NERDS stories combine the excitement of international espionage with the awkwardness of elementary school social life. The NERDS — which stands for NATIONAL ESPIONAGE, RESCUE AND DEFENSE SOCIETY — are a stereotypical group of unpopular fifth-graders who run a spy network. In James Bond-like fashion, they each have cutting edge technology that enhances their nerdy weaknesses into super hero powers that help them save the day.
Why It’s Fun
NERDS is a relatively new series by Michael Buckley (Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show, The Sisters Grimm), that even adults will enjoy. The characters are engaging and the stories are funny and suspenseful. The black-and-white illustrations have a comic book feel and each chapter starts with geographic coordinates that give a clue as to the locale of each scene. As the title hints, there’s some strong messages in the stories about bullying and tolerance. But it’s done so in a way that fits naturally and poignantly within the plot.
Who It’s For
The publisher recommends the series for kids as young as 8. The plots are complex and at about 300 pages in length, the books might be a bit long for kids at that age.
What To Be Aware Of
The characters are in 5th grade and deal with age-appropriate issues such as wedgies, locking kids in lockers, poor grades, etc. I find that a good rule of thumb is that kids should read about kids their own age.