Reviews for Secret Identity


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 February 2004
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 3-5. Thought it wasn't possible to put a fresh spin on the meathead-versus-nerd story line? The author of the popular Sammy Keyes mysteries proves otherwise with the debut of a hilarious new series. Meet Nolan, a brainy fifth-grader whose socially awkward habits (dorky "power walking," wearing his socks outside his pants) have earned him the nickname "Nerd" from bully Bubba Bixby. Fed up with Bubba and inspired by his hippie teacher's jotted compliment on a math quiz ("You shred, man!"), Nolan anonymously launches shredderman.com, a forum devoted to exposing Bubba's misdeeds. Van Draanen handles the technological elements with confidence, describing the process of launching a Web site in the breathless voice of an egghead whose deepest enthusiasms have been engaged, and her readers will relish the gadgetry and ingenious problem solving. They'll also connect to the story of a grade-school outsider whose triumphs in cyberspace boost his confidence in the bricks-and-mortar world. "Wa-hoo!" for Shredderman, and kudos to Van Draanen for delivering a character-driven series that's spot-on for middle-graders and great for reluctant readers, especially boys. Four more visits with Nolan and his alter ego, all featuring pitch-perfect illustrations, are planned. ((Reviewed February 1, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2004 Fall
Bullied by Bubba Bixby, fifth-grader Nolan Byrd ("Byrd-the-Nerd") creates a website that features photographic and video clip evidence of Bubba's misbehavior. Written in Nolan's conversational first-person voice, this story of grade-school angst and empowerment is written in a generally humorous style, despite a somewhat mawkish ending. Tongue-in-cheek illustrations accompany the breezy text. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2004 January #1
In a Sammy Keyes for younger readers, Van Draanen opens a new series featuring a fifth-grade math wiz with this quick-paced take on the perennial "dealing with a bully" theme. Weary of being terrorized by Alvin "Bubba" Bixby while grown-ups turn a blind eye, Nolan "Byrd-the-Nerd" Byrd installs a digital camera in his backpack to catch Bubba in the act, and then posts the incriminating photos on a secretly created Web site. The ploy does get Bixby in hot water, particularly with his (predictably) abusive father-but the author suggests more effective alternative strategies by having Nolan gain the self-confidence to stand up to bullying, even at the price of being beaten up, and to refuse to play the nickname game. Biggs contributes sketchy "Beavis and Butthead"-style vignettes; the author adds a supporting cast of unconventional characters, and pushes off a rolling tangle of subplots to set the stage for further exploits from "Shredderman." They should get an enthusiastic welcome. (Fiction. 8-10) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 February #1
Van Draanen (Swear to Howdy; the Sammy Keyes mysteries) launches a one-man "Revenge of the Nerds" for the elementary crowd with this first in the Shredderman series. This quick-moving, often comical, story stars narrator Nolan Byrd, a likeable fifth-grader short on friends and self-confidence. Ever since Bubba, the class bully, deemed him "Nerd" (short for "Byrd-the-Nerd"), the name has stuck. When Nolan's teacher assigns a project to write a newspaper article on any topic they like ("Is there something that you feel very angry about? An injustice you see in the world?"), the boy decides he will focus his report on Bubba. He exposes the tyrant's wily ways by rigging up a digital camera in his backpack so that he can surreptitiously photograph Bubba's devious deeds. After the ploy works (Nolan snaps the bad boy dumping a trash can onto the floor) he begins to worry about the repercussions once all the projects were displayed in the classroom ("When Bubba saw it, he'd pound me!"). So the clever kid decides to build a Web site using the "secret identity" of Shredderman, in order to post further evidence of Bubba's bullying ("All Bubba, All the Time"). The reactions of his teacher and classmates will be as gratifying to readers as they are to Nolan. The narrator's confidence gets a big boost as he realizes that in his new "superhero" guise he can "fight for truth and justice." Kids are likely to log on to subsequent tales. Ages 7-10. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2004 May
Gr 3-6-A new series featuring a puny but brainy fifth grader named Nolan Byrd, whose dorky ways earn him the nickname of "Nerd" from Bubba Bixby, a seemingly unstoppable bully who cheats, lies, steals, and terrorizes little kids. Tired of Bubba's relentless tormenting, Nolan anonymously launches shredderman.com, an online forum that chronicles the bully's transgressions. The name Shredderman is inspired by the compliment Nolan's math teacher writes on a quiz, "You shred, man!" Readers will be impressed with the protagonist's ingenious problem-solving abilities and his adept use of technology to expose Bubba. This entertaining story of an egghead who cannot keep his shoes tied who uses his brains to triumph over the worst bully in school will keep even reluctant readers laughing and wanting more stories about this cyber superhero. Droll, black-and-white cartoons are a perfect accompaniment to the clever text.-Edward Sullivan, White Pine School, TN Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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