Title: Word Nerd
Author: Susin Nielsen
Ambrose is an unfortunate kid. His dad died before he was born, leaving his overprotective mom to fend for himself. He’s always the new kid, being shuffled from city to city as his mom gets new jobs. He’s smart. He’s awkward. And the kids at school pick on him.
Ironically, it’s not until a near death experience after eating a peanut that Ambrose starts to get lucky. His ticket out of his misery? Scrabble. It might have taken befriending a felon and a little fibbing to his mom, but Ambrose finally has found something and people who he feels comfortable with.
While Beverly Cleary might have captured the over-the-top perfect world of being a kid, Nielsen gives you the flip side. You feel the poor kid’s pain as he’s picked on by the bullies at school. Being smart and always the new kid has its downfalls. But it’s a delight to see that despite being kicked when he’s down Ambrose prevails by doing something positive.