Shredderman: Secret Identity Book 1
Neal Shusterman & Eric Elfman
Knopf, 2004 138 pgs
5th grader, Nolan, has no friends. Thanks to the classroom bully, Bubba, Nolan is nicknamed "Nerd" and his classmates, who also are given horrible nicknames by Bubba, give him a wide berth. Nolan tries to talk to his teacher about the problem, but Bubba is sneaky and the other kids are afraid of him, so there is no proof of bad behavior or other willing witnesses. After reading a comment on his excellent math test from his hippie teacher ("You shred, man!") Nolan takes on a new persona "Shredderman". As Shredderman he sets up a website exposing Bubba's bullying behavior caught by Nolan's hidden camera. Nolan then spreads little papers with a link to the website in a harrowing scene involving a near miss off the school roof. Everyone in the school sees the website, Bubba is brought to justice, and the other kids start to take back their own names and refuse to be bullied. Nolan gains a new found confidence and starts to make friends. His teacher apologizes for not listening and asks to be Nolan's secret sidekick. Further adventures for Shredderman are to follow.
Shredderman is a series of books for beginning chapter book readers. They would especially appeal to boys and would be a great choice for reluctant readers. The chapter are short with catchy titles, the margins are big, and the cartoon-like illustrations are plentiful. The is much humor in the book, but with an underlining seriousness about bullying and making friends. Nolan has a real problem and he solves it using his head and talents. He goes from feeling powerless to powerful. His family is kind and supportive and his singing hippie teacher would be fun to have in class. What child doesn't dream of being a superhero? Nolan turns himself into one and makes the world believe it. Does the book end a little too neatly? Who cares. Its great fun and just right for early chapter book readers.