NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society

By: 

Michael Buckley

Number of Pages: 

306

Minimum grade level: 

5th

Jackson Jones is the most popular kid at his school – popular, but kind of a jerk. Here’s an average school day for Jackson Jones: Give Duncan Dewey a wedgie; Trip Matilda Choi and laugh uproariously as she falls; Dump a soda on Heathcliff Hodges’ head; Tape a KICK ME sign to Ruby Peet’s back; Stuff Julio Escala into his locker; Jackson Jones rules Nathan Hale Elementary School…

Until Jackson gets braces and headgear. Overnight his friends don’t know him, he can’t play football, and the teachers start to pick on him. “You look like you’ve been munching on a bicycle chain, goober,” his former best friend tells him. Overnight, Jackson has joined the nerds -- except they don’t want him around either.

These nerds are different though. And Jackson soon finds out how different they are. They are members of N.E.R.D.S.: the National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society. They flit around the globe saving the world from the nefarious plans dreamt up by evil geniuses. And they do this while keeping their grades up at Nathan Hale Elementary School. Maybe nerds aren’t so … well, nerdy after all.

Each member of NERDS has a special power that comes from the dorkiest thing they do. Duncan likes to eat glue, so nanotechnology enables him to walk on walls. Ruby’s augmented allergies warn her of danger and dishonesty in people. And Julio – a junk food junkie – turns all that sugar into superhuman strength and speed.

Jackson’s in on their secret now, so he’s going to be joining NERDS. What’s the dorkiest thing about Jackson? What special power can come from braces?

Discussion questions

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

  1. Why do you think each chapter begins with the Global Positioning System location?
  2. When Jackson gets braces, he immediately gets exiled from the popular group. Would this happen at your school? What makes some kids popular and other kids nerds?
  3. Do you like the code names of the various members of NERDS? Why does each name reflect something that the person might not like about themselves?
  4. Can you think of other characters in the story who are not as they seem when you first meet them? Is Jackson the person he appears to be at the beginning the book? What preconceptions did you have about the other characters and how are those characters different from your preconceptions?
  5. Why does the Hyena want to be a professional killer? What is the secret mission that Agent Brand sends her on at the end of the novel?
  6. What motivates Dr. Jigsaw in this story? Why does he think that “putting the world back together” will make it a better place?
  7. Duncan tells Jackson: “The world is not saved by touchdowns – it’s saved by ideas” (page 158)? Is Duncan right? Why or why not?
  8. In Chapter 17, Duncan (aka Gluestick) explains to Jackson why the NERDS never used their powers on him when he was tormenting them. If you were being bullied, would it help to have a super power? Why or why not?
  9. How do the various members of the team react when they learn that one of them is evil? Were you surprised by this development? This person’s body is never found. Do you think she or he will be back in another book in this series? What might they do then?
  10. Is there something about you that is “nerdy?” How might it be altered to make you a superhero?

If you liked this book, try

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  • Science Fair: A Story of Mystery, Danger, International Suspense, and a Very Nervous Frog by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
  • The Black Paw (Spy Mice, Book 1) by Heather Vogel Frederick
  • My Rotten Life (Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie, Book 1) by David Lubar
  • Andrew North Blows Up the World by Adam Selzer
  • Secret Science Alliance by Eleanor Davis