Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Word Nerd by Susin Nielsen

Ambrose is a 12 year old scrabble playing misfit with a deathly peanut allergy. He gets harassed at school by bullies and babied at home by his slightly overprotective mother. When his neighbors upstairs allow their newly-released-from-jail son, Cosmo, to move back in, an unlikely friendship begins.

You can't help but feel bad for Ambrose. Like, really bad. He wears purple cords, and Nike knock-offs called "Ikes". He tells his mom he got invited to a friend's birthday party at Laser Star, even though he didn't, just to make her happy and then subsequently spends the next three hours in the bathroom reading the book he brought as a present for his "friend."

Thankfully, my heart didn't bleed for long. He is quite resilient to his situation as a self-proclaimed friendless nerd. Also, he is pretty annoying. It's impressive that I can feel sympathy, endearment and annoyance in equal measure towards this character, which says good things about the writing.

And the writing is good. It's simple and concise with lovely anagrams underneath the title of each chapter (pat, chat, patch, tape, harp, heart, cap, eat). The relationship between Cosmo and Ambrose, as mentor and mentee, is funny and heartwarming. Their interaction beginning and revolving around Scrabble - genius.

Here's the thing - I wouldn't recommend it to any child or any mother of pre-teen children because I am prude and like my kid stories to be Teen Lit Trashy-Bits free. My problem lies with some of his young boy fascinations with female anatomy, which I know is real, but a bit crass nonetheless.

Word Nerd is cute and predictable with a nice sparkly feel-goodness at the end. Which I almost always enjoy.
Book Source: Local Library.

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