Maureen, a thirteen-year-old self-proclaimed dork-a-saurus, is totally addicted to cupcakes and hot dogs and thinks that her body looks like a baked potato. Allergy-plagued Alice can’t touch a mango without breaking out in a rash, and if she eats wheat, her vision goes blurry. Klutzy to the extreme, Barbara is a beanpole who often embarrasses herself in front of the whole school. These outcasts don't have much in common--other than the fact that they are often targets of the ThreePees: the Pretty, Popular, Perfect girls who rule the school. But one day Maureen discovers that the ThreePees are planning to sit next to Allergy Alice in the cafeteria and eat peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches on whole wheat toast with mango marmalade for lunch. And Maureen decides that it's time to topple the eight-grade social regime. She joins forces with Alice and Barbara and the Nerd Girls enter the school talent show, determined to take the crown from the ThreePees. Will their routine be enough to de-throne the popular crowd? Or will their plan backfire and shake their hold on the bottom rung of the social ladder?
Nerd Girls: The Rise of the Dorkasaurus
Nerd Girls is author Alan Lawrence Sitomer's first foray into middle grade fiction. My students have loved everything he's ever written, so I am eager to share Nerd Girls with them, although this book will definitely appeal to a different demographic than Hip Hop High School. Still, as a teacher, Sitomer has a gift for adolescent language and common humiliations. My students will love Maureen's snarky sense of humor. At times, her sarcasm towards her new (and only) friends seems excessive, but ten minutes at a lunch table with eighth graders shows it to be realistic.
At 224 pages, Nerd Girls felt longer than necessary, with some repetitive dialogue. I'm interested to see how students feel about the novel's length--and I will see, as this is definitely a book I will add to my library. The first in a five-part series, I predict that all of the books will be a hit with my students.
Don't read this book if you're looking for deep, complex characters. It's not here. I'll admit that Maureen, aka "Mo," does under go a transformation throughout the novel. She's highly cynical and out right sarcastic (and I love it) for the majority of the book. By spending time with the other "nerd girls" and social outcasts of the 8th grade, she starts to develop real friendships. During this time her self image changes and she realizes that she has something to offer the world, even if she is the subject of an embarrassing top video on YouTube. Another great character is Allergy Alice. She undergoes a transformation throughout the book as well. Now, mind you that Allergy Alice is an absolute hot mess. She's practically allergic to air and everything else she comes in contact with. Her friendship with Beanpole Barbara and Maureen give her confidence and help her to cope with her fears. It's a really nice story of friendship perfect for middle school students.
If you're like me and you tend to be over the top sarcastic, this book is perfect for you. You'll enjoy the witty narrator and the other characters. It is so tongue-in-cheek (but in a middle school friendly way) that I can't wait to read it again. My students are going to die laughing, I just know it! I even bought two hardback (full price mind you) copies today! One for myself and one for my BFF that is teaching 7th grade with me next year. I'm making her read this to her students as well. As a matter of fact, I'm going to call her around 7 a.m. tomorrow morning to tell her that.
The characters are a riot.