Illustrator: Églantine Ceulemans
Published by Wendy Lamb Books on January 29, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Source: NetGalley, Blog Tour
My content rating: MG
A funny, fast-paced, and heartfelt story from the Newbery Honor-winning author of the Al Capone series.
Fifth grade is not for amateurs, according to Liam. Luckily, he knows that being more than one-third nerd is not cool. Liam lives in the Bay area near San Francisco with his mom and two younger sisters. Dakota is fascinated by science and has a big personality but struggles to make friends; Izzy, a child with Down syndrome, makes friends easily and notices things that go past everyone else. Dad lives across town, but he's over a lot. And then there's Cupcake, their lovable German shepherd, who guards their basement apartment.
Recently, Cupcake has a problem--she's peeing in the house. The kids need to make enough money to take her to the vet before their landlord upstairs finds out. And Mom and Dad have said if Cupcake doesn't stop, they will find her a new home. But the kids will never let Cupcake go. Can they save her?
One-Third Nerd is a heartwarming middle grade story about a typically atypical family just trying to get by. I say typically atypical because, let’s face it, in today’s world very few families fit the standard nuclear family mold. Liam’s parents are divorced and they struggle financially. His youngest sister has Down’s Syndrome and his other little sis is brilliant (but maybe a bit of a handful). I think that Chodenko captured the family dynamic well. None of them are perfect, but they love each other and they’re doing their best.
Liam is sometimes self-conscious about his apartment and his brainy sister’s antics (she’s 100% nerd—perfect for her, but not great as far as Liam’s concerned). He’s especially concerned about how he looks to the new kid, Moses, who he thinks has it all together (especially since Moses is a superstar at tennis, Liam’s sport). To top everything off, the family dog is sick and has been peeing all over the house, and the landlord says they have to solve the problem or get rid of their beloved pet. Liam’s little sister isn’t about to let that happen so she puts her brain power toward saving her. Along the way, Liam starts to see his sister in a new light (at least a little) and he learns that maybe he doesn’t have to try to impress Moses—he’s just a kid looking for a friend. This is the type of middle grade where everything is tied up in a neat little bow, which might feel trite to some adult readers, but will probably go over well with the younger middle graders the book was written for. Overall, it’s a sweet story that will teach kids about the power of family, friendships, and not giving up.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley and Rockstar Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About The Author
Choldenko is best known for her Tales from Alcatraz series, which has sold more than 2 million copies. Book #1: Al Capone Does My Shirts was a Newbery Honor Book and the recipient of twenty other awards. Book #4: Al Capone Throws Me a Curve is due out in 2018. BookPage said of her most recent novel, Chasing Secrets: “Choldenko’s ability to research obscure yet intriguing topics is uncanny, and as she did with the popular Al Capone trilogy she turns a tough topic into a high interest read … a compelling work of historical fiction.” Gennifer lives with her loyal husband and naughty dog in the San Francisco Bay Area.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of ONE-THIRD NERD, US Only.