National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society (NERDS Series #1)

National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society (NERDS Series #1)

4.4 53
by Michael Buckley

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NERDS combines all the excitement of international espionage with all the awkwardness of elementary school, and the results are hilarious. A group of unpopular fifth graders run a spy network from inside their school. With the help of cutting-edge science, they transform their nerdy qualities into incredible abilities! Their enemies? An array of James

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NERDS combines all the excitement of international espionage with all the awkwardness of elementary school, and the results are hilarious. A group of unpopular fifth graders run a spy network from inside their school. With the help of cutting-edge science, they transform their nerdy qualities into incredible abilities! Their enemies? An array of James Bond–style villains, each with an evil plan more diabolical and more ridiculous than the last. Publishers Weekly raved: “Buckley has a flair for exaggerated humor.” School Library Journal said: “Funny, clever, and thoroughly entertaining.”

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Launching a new series, Buckley (the Sisters Grimm books) offers a charming and funny tale of underdogs saving the day. Jackson Jones, a cool kid at Nathan Hale Elementary School, suddenly finds himself ostracized when he's saddled with 14 pounds of highly magnetic orthodonture (“Friends turned their backs when he walked by. Teachers cowered in the lounge, hoping to avoid eye contact”). With no social activities to occupy his time, he starts snooping around school and uncovers its secret: it's the undercover hideout of NERDS, a secret group of underage spies. Even more shocking, the NERDS are the biggest outcasts in the entire school, their allergies and eccentricities turned into assets. Though the spy kids concept is a familiar one in print, TV and film, Buckley has a flair for exaggerated humor, throws in some nice touches (including a peevish security system that interacts with readers) and wisely presents the NERDS through the eyes of Jackson, who spends much of the book denying his own social ostracism. Even the more broadly drawn archetypes are fleshed out, making this a perfectly fun and clever read. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Erika Clark
Teachers thought of him as charming. The coach of his PeeWee football team admired his leadership, "best passing arm, best kicking leg, and best touchdown dance he had seen in twenty-five years." His name was Jackson Jones and was known as the most popular kid at Nathan Hale Elementary School, in Arlington, Virginia. All the students mimicked his every move and respected every thing he said. Jackson was following the footsteps of his father and older brother, both of whom had achieved great victories and reputations as Nathan Hale Tigers. Little did Jackson know, his reign as king would soon disintegrate into ashes when his orthodontist, Dr. Gupta, tells him he needs braces to help straighten his teeth. "Jackson found that by the end of an average school day his headgear had collected cuff links, belt buckles, hairpins, cafeteria trays, cell phones, and umbrellas...his popularity vanished overnight. Friends turned their backs when he walked by. Teachers cowered in the lounge, hoping to avoid eye contact. The classroom hamster buried itself under a mound of sawdust and pretended he wasn't there. Even his best friend turned on him." This feeling of alienation caused Jackson to notice peculiar characteristics about his friends, the faculty and staff, and others that have been overlooked for so long. Becoming a nerd helped him understand that some of the coolest people at Nathan Hale were the nerdiest, and that nerds in fact live adventurous and amazing lives. Access different levels of the top secret nerds case file and discover how a group of geeky nerds use their unique talents to save the globe from their spy headquarters—"the playground"—hidden in their elementary school.These misfit fifth-graders give a whole new meaning to word "nerd". An action filled adventure that, in particular young boys, will hook onto the fascination and interest of students in the classroom. Part of the "National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society" series. Reviewer: Erika Clark
School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—An action-packed, tongue-in-cheek take on the world of superheroes and villains. Jackson Jones, 11, transitions from Mr. Popular to complete loser in the time it takes to be fitted for braces with headgear. He soon happens upon the underground headquarters of a group of outcasts called NERDS, who, with the help of technology "upgrades," turn weaknesses like allergies into superpowers, fighting crime in secret until the age of 18. While trying to escape, Jackson himself is accidentally upgraded—his braces become equipped with tiny nanobytes capable of morphing into any object. Asked to join the NERDS, Jackson quickly learns that not everyone wants him around—especially those he used to pick on. Unity must come quickly, however, to foil the evil Dr. Jigsaw, whose mission to reunite the continents of the world will lead to massive destruction. The absurd story line humorously hits on some oft-ignored topics—what is the difference between a goon, a henchman, a minion, and an assassin anyway? Readers will delight in these unexpected touches. The pacing is quick and the action is plentiful—kids will almost hear the sound effects as they read. The book itself is treated as a top-secret NERDS case file, complete with increasingly ridiculous security-clearance requirements (thumbprint, saliva sample, money). Angular, black-and-white illustrations highlight main characters and pivotal moments. NERDS brings a worthy message to the fore—that uncool kids can grow up to be anything but. Funny, clever, and thoroughly entertaining, this title should be popular.—Travis Jonker, Dorr Elementary School, MI
Kirkus Reviews
Jackson Jones used to be the most popular 11-year-old at Nathan Hale Elementary, but now he's forced to wear hideous magnetic braces on his teeth. Dumped by his friends, he starts paying more attention to his surroundings and discovers that a small group of nerds vanishes regularly during the school day. He learns they're a group of super-secret, super-enhanced spies, and he accidentally gets enhanced himself. The five existing members of the National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society want nothing to do with the former "popular," despite the best efforts of their adult handlers. When the NERDS are captured by evil Dr. Jigsaw, can "Braceface" save the day (and the world)? Sisters Grimm author Buckley kicks off a new series with a passable origin story. Most characters aren't more than stereotypes, but the inventive details, story and made-up futuristic technology will keep pages turning. The length and level of language keep this from being a perfect package for its intended audience of reluctant readers. However, avid readers of humorous thrillers will be quite glad this is slated to be a series. (Thriller. 8-12)
Isaac Gabella
Jackson Jones is the focal point of Nathan Hale Elementary; as a star athlete and the most popular kid in school. He is struck down by middle school superficiality when he gets braces and a head harness: he loses his friends and even has to give up sports. During this time, Jackson finds consolation in learning all he can about other people. His curiosity leads him to a group of five "nerds" who have something to hide. Upon further investigation, he discovers that they are here to save the world. Michael Buckley tries to challenge common social perceptions while entertaining his reader. Though there are some intriguing aspects and cool details, the writer fails to execute the idea that the primary job of a book is to immerse the reader into a world that, although a product of the writer's thoughts, still needs coherent rules, laws, and consistencies. Reviewer: Isaac Gabella
ALAN Review - Christine Chau
Jackson Jones once lived the joys of being the most popular kid in school. He spent most of his days torturing nerds. As fate would have it, an unfortunate event occurred, and he became a social outcast. Not even the nerds wished to have him as a part of their group. Jackson accidentally discovers that five of the nerds he used to torture are actually spy agents, and he is invited to join their group. Jackson learns the difficulties of being an outcast, and desperately tries to gain acceptance amongst the NERDS. His interactions with the other members of the team help him overcome his superficial judgment of individuals, and appreciate people for their hidden potential. Jackson embraces his inner nerd, and the supporting characters learn how to put aside their personal prejudices to ensure the NERDS' success. Reviewer: Christine Chau

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Product Details

Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
NERDS Series, #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Michael Buckley is the author of The Sisters Grimm, a New York Times bestselling series and a Today Show Al Roker Book Club pick. He has also written and developed shows for such networks as the Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and Disney. He lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York. Visit

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