NERDS Book 4: Villain Virus
By Michael Buckley
Illustrated by Ethen Beavers
Silliness runs rampant in this fourth installment of the NERDS series. NERDS is a team of nerdy kids whose challenges have been turned into strengths by nanoparticles. Now they are super spies that go around saving the world. The NERDS are nearly defeated in this book, while the world gets dangerously close to complete chaos. A virus is infecting everyone and turning them into villains who have the intent of taking over the world. Not only are the victims angry and capable of turning anything into a weapon of terrible destruction, but the team has been promoted to middle school. They got away with unexplained absences in elementary school by being charming and having good help. However, the principal of Thomas Knowlton Middle School has her eye on Julio Escala aka Flinch, one of the NERDS. She keeps giving him detention when the team needs him the most. Flinch is hyperactive and once his powers are activated, he moves faster than the human eye can see. In the first missions of the book, the boss puts Flinch in charge, but it’s a disaster. As he expected, things went crazy just like his thoughts normally do. Because of his unique metabolism, he is immune to the virus and, when everyone else succumbs to their own delusions of grandeur, he is the only one left. Flinch has to overcome his self-doubt to save the world. He does just that in the nick of time.
The characters are wacky, playing off of stereotypes, but reacting in different and interesting ways. There are a lot of characters to keep up with. This is definitely a read aloud. Warning: this book has kissing and bathroom humor so if this is used as a class read aloud, be prepared for groans and hysterical laughter. The humor is geared for fifth and sixth graders, so the jokes may go over the third graders heads. If they have listened to and appreciated Captain Underpants, they may be ready for NERDS.
There is a nice teacher’s guide on the publisher’s website with reading activities: (http://www.abramsbooks.com/nerds/).
For a YouTubevideo where the author gives an orientation to the characters: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upkePoqoyFQ).
To watch a video of Michael Buckley’s appearance at the National Book Festival in 2011: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_ma8hOOLb0) .