Authors: Elissa Brent Weissman
ALSO BY ELISSA BRENT WEISSMAN
Standing for Socks
The Trouble with Mark Hopper
ATHENEUM BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS
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This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright Â© 2011 by Elissa Brent Weissman
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Book design by Jessica Handelman and Karina Granda
The text for this book is set in Cheltenham.
Manufactured in the United States of America
2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Weissman, Elissa Brent.
Nerd camp / Elissa Brent Weissman. â1st ed.
Summary: For ten-year-old Gabe, the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment is all that he dreamed it would be, but he must work hard to write about the fun in letters to Zack, his cool future stepbrother, without revealing that it is a camp for “nerds.”
ISBN 978-1-4424-1703-8 (hardcover)
[1. CampsâFiction. 2. AbilityâFiction. 3. StepbrothersâFiction.
4. Interpersonal relationsâFiction. 5. IndividualityâFiction.] I. Title.
ISBN 978-1-4424-1705-2 (eBook)
For my grandparents,
Joan, Marty, Terry, and Lee:
I'm one lucky nerd to have
your never-ending support
It was so late that it was almost tomorrow. Gabe had been awake later than this only once before. That was New Year's Eve, and his mom had let him have a sleepover with some of his math team friends. Rather than counting down to the new year when it was just ten seconds away, like most people, at 8:00 p.m. they figured out how many seconds there were until the ball dropped and then counted down ten seconds occasionally throughout the night (at 8:32 they counted down from 12,480 to 12,470).
He thought now of figuring out how many seconds there were until his train tomorrow, but that would probably just
make him more excited and anxious, and Gabe needed to
thinking about tomorrow so he could sleep.
He couldn't help being excited about the futureâ
the future with my new brother!
he thought, even though he was trying so hard
to think at all. He remembered back to first grade, when his friend Eric's little sister was born, and how jealous he was. “Can you
have a baby?” he'd asked his mom again and again.
“You need a mom and a dad to have a baby,” his mom had said. “And they have to want to have a baby together.”
Gabe had known even then that that wasn't going to happen. His mom and dad were divorcedâthey had been divorced from the time he was a baby himselfâand they wouldn't want to have another baby together, since they didn't even talk to each other except for a few words when one of them dropped him off with the other.
“You're enough for me, Gabe,” his mother always told him. “I know you'd like a brother or sister, but I'm sorry. It's going to be just us.” Sometimes she gave his head a squeeze and added, “You've got enough brains for two kids, anyway.”
But Gabe kept hoping that his mom would surprise him. One time, last year, Gabe made the grave mistake of asking
her, excitedly, if she was pregnant. That night, she took a big black garbage bag and cleared out the pantry of everything that tasted good, and Gabe had to rely on hanging out at friends' houses if he wanted to eat anything but leafy greens.
For some reason it never even occurred to him that his dad could be the one to get him a sibling, but that's what was happening. And the best part was that his new brother was already his age, because his dad was marrying a woman named Carla who also had a son who was ten, Zack. They lived 2,825 miles away in Los Angeles, California (a 6-hour plane ride or 43-hour drive or a 706-hour walk!). They were visiting New York now, and Gabe was going to meet them for the first timeâ
But after they got married at the end of August, Carla and Zack were going to live in New York City with Gabe's dad, which meant that whenever Gabe went to visit his dad he'd also be visiting his brother.
Manhattan was close enough that Gabe could go visit on weekends. He and Zack could do all the fun city stuff together, like go to the Museum of Natural History, but he could also go home before he had to deal with what he imagined would be annoying things about having a brother 100 percent of the time, like fighting over using the computer
or both needing the
volume of the encyclopedia at the same time. Everything about it was perfect, perfect,
As Gabe lay in bedâhis homework done and on his desk even though he wasn't going to school tomorrow, and his duffel bag packed with clothes to spend two nights in the cityâhe thought about his new stepbrother. Would Zack look different in person than he did in pictures? Would he be taller or shorter than Gabe? (Gabe hoped they'd be the same.) Would he wear glasses for reading or distance? (Gabe's were for both.) Would he prefer chocolate or vanilla (Gabe liked vanilla), fiction or nonfiction (Gabe liked both equally), multiplication or division (Gabe preferred division, the longer the better)?
It doesn't matter
, Gabe decided.
I'll like him no matter what, because we're going to be brothers.
Gabe fell asleep smiling. He was going to love his new brother. They were going to become best friends.
The next morning, Gabe stood in the middle of Penn Station, holding his duffel bag with his left hand and his mom's hand with his right. People rushed past them in every direction, even though it was 10:15, the middle of the morningâhe'd be doing social studies if he was at schoolâand Gabe thought that these people should be at work. He scanned all the bodies and faces through his glasses, looking for his dad and wondering if each kid who passed could be Zack, even though that wouldn't make much sense.
“Here comes your dad,” Gabe's mom said. She smiled and waved, and Gabe craned his head to look, but he was too
short. His mom turned to Gabe. “Have fun, honey, and be nice to Carla and Zack.”
“I will,” Gabe promised. He was still trying to see who was coming, but a large woman with two suitcases had stopped right in front of him to examine a map, and he couldn't see anything around her.
“Only one soda with dinner, Gabe,” his mom said, “and then water if you're still thirsty.”
“And I don't know what Carla and Zack will be like, butâ”
“Dad!” shouted Gabe. He dropped his duffel bag, let go of his mother's hand, and flung himself into his dad's waist.
“Where's Zack? And Carla?”
His dad put his hands on Gabe's shoulders and nodded his head toward the wall. “We'll go over there in a second. They're excited to meet you.”
Gabe stood on his tiptoes and looked where his dad had nodded. He caught a glimpse of a woman with curly hair and a boy about his age who seemed to be wearing headphones.
“Just a minute,” said his mom. She handed Gabe his duffel bag. “Be good,” she said, and Gabe nodded, his eyes pointed
in the direction of his new family members. “Remember about the soda, please,” she said, “and listen to Dad. I'll meet you right here on Sunday at four, and we'll take the four-twelve back home together.” She said that last one more to Gabe's dad than to Gabe, which was good because he wasn't really listening anyway.