Title: Shredderman: Secret Identity
Author: Wendelin Van Draanen
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age Group: 3rd-6th Grade
Nolan is the school nerd-at least according to bully Bubba Bixby. No matter how many times Nolan tells his teachers and parents about the mean things Bubba does, they never catch him in the act. So when Nolan's teacher Mr. Green assigns a newspaper project in class, Nolan knows just what he wants to do-an investigative report on Bubba, proving once and for all what a bully he truly is. But how to do his assignment without getting pounded? Well, he needs a secret identity, of course, and Shredderman.com, a website devoted to all things Bubba, is born. But will it help bring truth and justice back to Nolan's life?
This is the first in a series of four books by Van Draanen telling the story of Nolan and Bubba. It is charming. As a teacher, I've known a few Nolan's in my time-smart, socially awkward, unassertive. I have never known one to solve their problem in such a creative way as Nolan, however. Once he makes the decision to catch Bubba in the act with his secret camera, he begins to change from the scared, meek computer nerd into a more confident, assertive young man. Nolan's message is that if he had a superhero trapped inside of him (his superpower-using his noggin!) then so do you, third through sixth grade reader.
I use this as a read aloud, and this year my students are eating it up! They have already asked me to read the second book, Shredderman: Attack of the Tagger as soon as we finish Secret Identity. I consider this high praise, given that I have read very few series books over the years where the students were clamoring for more-Series of Unfortunate Events being the exception. My boys especially really get into Nolan/Shredderman, and given some of the recent talk about the reading crisis for boys it's always good to have male-centered titles for upper elementary and middle grade readers.
Shredderman.com on Random House
Live Oaks Media Shredderman Activity Guide