The Barnes & Noble Review
Never fear, Shredderman is here! Wendelin Van Draanen, author of the popular Sammy Keyes series, leaps to literary heights with this early-middle-grade series about a boy who puts on his thinking cap to battle the school bully.
It's sad to say, but it's true: Nolan Byrd is Cedar Valley Elementary's No. 1 nerd. But when Bubba Bixby -- a nasty bully who enjoys tipping over kids' lunch trays, calling names, and swiping stuff -- pushes Nolan a little too far, the brainiac boy decides to build a web site dedicated to outing Bubba's shenanigans. With photos of Bubba's pranks and plenty of cool graphics, Nolan's anonymous site, Shredderman.com, soon becomes the talk of the school. In the end, Nolan is thrilled that Bubba gets his comeuppance, and after he gets a surprise "sidekick," he sees that the bully's problems stem from something deeper than mere meanness (even though Bubba's not changing anytime soon!).
Three cheers for Shredderman! Van Draanen has created a "superhero" who speaks wonderfully to all the underdogs out there looking for justice. Kids will surely be looking to devour more episodes, and Brian Biggs's wacky illustrations make for an on-target complement. A crackerjack read for boys and fans of Jon Scieszka's Time Warp Trio or Megan McDonald's Judy Moody.
In one corner we have Bubba Bixby, who "was born big and mean, full of teeth and ready to bite." In the other, there's Nolan Byrd, who adores math, power walking, and most of all, computers. Kids will find themselves cheering this smartie who fights back, not with his fists, but with a creative cyber-weapon. Short chapters make this an excellent choice for younger readers. (Ages 8 to 12)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2004
Shredderman: Secret Identity; Attack of the Tagger Wendelin Van Draanen, illus. by Brian Biggs. Random/Yearling, $5.50 each ISBN 0-440-41912-3; 0-440-41913-1. PW said, "Van Draanen launches a one-man Revenge of the Nerds for the elementary crowd." Ages 7-10. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Van Draanen, known for her excellent Sammy Keyes mystery series, now turns to a younger audience and new genre with a new hero, Nolan "Nerd" Byrd, who is a brilliant, puny fifth grader and primary target of bully Alvin "Bubba" Bixby who "was born big and mean, full of teeth and ready to bite." He has "rocky knuckles and killer breath," terrorizes everyone in school, has dubbed all his classmates with cruel nicknames, and gets away with lying, cheating and stealing. No teacher or principal seems to be able to stop him, so Nolan comes up with a dynamite complicated technology-driven plan to "shred" this bully, and takes on the secret identity of "Shredderman." By the book's end Nolan gets his real name back and feels stronger, smarter and braver "like a superhero should." Short page count, plenty of illustrations, and an intriguing method of solving the age-old bully problem make this an involving book for younger readers who will look forward to more books in this series. 2004, Knopf, Ages 7 to 10.
School Library Journal
Fifth grader Nolan Byrd's nickname at school is "Byrd the Nerd"—a title bestowed on him by the relentless school bully, Bubba Bixby. Inspired by a class project, Nolan decides he is finally going to fight back. He sets up a Web page using the alias "Shredderman" and provides the scoop on everything Bubba—from Bubba jokes to video and pictures of Bubba caught in the act of tormenting his classmates. Then, to make sure the message finds its audience, he scatters confetti with the Web address across the school playground. Wendelin Van Draanen's amusing tale (Knopf, 2004) is brought to life by talented 11-year-old Daniel Young who convincingly voices the adults and the children. This delightful combination of thought-provoking material and laugh-out-loud moments will delight listeners.-Deanna Romriell, Salt Lake City Public Library, UT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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)
Read an Excerpt
Bubba Bixby was born big and mean, full of teeth and ready to bite.
That's what my mom thinks anyway.
My dad says a boy isn't born bad—he grows into being bad.
I don't know who's right. What I do know is that Bubba Bixby's got rocky knuckles.
And killer breath.
Teachers are always telling him to use words instead of fists—they have no idea what they're saying! Bubba-breath can knock you out cold.
Ask Ian McCoy. It actually happened to him in the third grade. When Bubba shouted at him, Ian's eyes rolled up in his head.
His knees buckled.
Then he blacked out and bit the dirt.
We had to slap his cheeks like crazy to get him to wake up, and when he did, he sat up, then threw up.
My father thinks I shouldn't call Bubba "Bubba" like everyone else does. He thinks I should call him Alvin, which is his real name. I've told him that calling him Alvin will get me pounded. Mike McDermish got dared to do it once and was nothing but Mike-mush when it was over. Now it's "Sure, Bubba" and "You betcha, Bubba" whenever he talks to him.
My mom and dad used to try to get the school to do something about Bubba. They talked to teachers. They even talked to the principal, Dr. Voss, a bunch of times. Nothing changed.
Dad thinks Dr. Voss isn't assertive enough. Dr. Voss thinks I'm not assertive enough. She says that kids like Bubba help us get ready for life.
Now that I'm a fifth grader, my dad tells me not to worry about Bubba. He says that I've got a lot more on the ball than Bubba does, and that one day Alvin Bixby will be working for me.
But he's wrong on two counts. First, that's forever away. And second, I wouldn't hire Bubba in a million years.
I'd fire him.
Say . . . what if I could fire Bubba from school? Wouldn't that be cool? Just kick him out and tell him to never come back. I could eat lunch without him flipping over my tray. Play four-square without him hogging the ball. Line up for class without him taking cuts and shoving the rest of us back. Oh, yeah. School without Bubba would be a whole new place.
I have to admit that our teacher, Mr. Green, tries to keep Bubba in line, but Mr. Green's already got one full-time job teaching fifth grade, and my mom says it's hard for him to take on another in the middle of it.
Plus, Bubba's sly. So no matter how hard Mr. Green tries, Bubba gets away with stuff.
My magic-rub eraser is in Bubba's desk right now with the initials B.B. gouged into it. So are some of my colored pencils. And probably my favorite The Gecko and Sticky magazine and the Dinosaurs library book I keep getting a reminder on.
It's not just my stuff that gets stolen. Bubba takes things from everybody. Even his friends, Kevin and Max. Actually, I think he steals from them the most.
The only thing Bubba's ever given anyone is names. I used to be Nolan Byrd. Now I'm Byrd-the-Nerd.
Or just plain Nerd.
Jake is Bucktooth. Trey is Butthead. Marvin is Moron. Todd is Toad, Ian is Fizz, Jenni is Worm-lips, Trinity is Pony-girl, Kayla is Freckle, Sarah is Kiss-up . . . everyone's got two names: one from their parents and one from Bubba.
His names stick, too. If Bubba calls you something a few times, you'll hear it over and over again from everyone. Some people like their names. Like Brian Washington. Even the teachers call him Gap because he wants them to. He doesn't have a gap between his front teeth anymore, but Bubba called him that in second grade, and he hasn't been Brian since.
So that's Bubba. He calls you names. He steals your stuff. He breathes putrid fumes in your face.
And even though I've always wanted to do something about it, I could never figure out what. I'm half Bubba's size and don't exactly want to die in elementary school.
So I just eat lunch far away from him, make room when he's cutting in line, and let him call me Nerd.
It's not fair, but at least I'm still alive.