Tuesday, 30 March 2021

The Nerd Herd

The Nerd Herd by Nathan Luff and illustrated by Chris Kennett (Scholastic) ISBN 9781760971069 RRP $14.99 PB

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

Packed full of laugh-out-loud silliness, The Nerd Herd is an enjoyable read for children aged six to ten years old. The main character is a pun-making sheep called Baarnabus and his two friends are a spitting llama called Shaama Llama Ding Dong and a goat with a long angora fringe, called Billy the Kid. The three of them are picked on in the farmyard by a large pig (Kevin Bacon), a mean dog (Ringo) and a fat cat (Plus Sized Puss). When the hens are attacked by a fox overnight, the ‘Nerd Herd,’ as Shaama suggests the three call themselves, try to use this to their advantage, with hilarious results.

Humorous illustrations on every page help bring the story to life showing action shots of Shaama spitting, the sheer relative size of T-bone the bull and the collective confused terror of the chickens.  The road runner style depictions of what happens with the electric fence and the fox are also particularly cool. Diagrams of doomed-to-fail plans of attack add to the funniness along with the fact that Billy the Kid can hardly ever see because his hair is in the way. These jokes do not just appeal to grade 2-5 children!

There is a nice moment in the story where Baarnabus tries to warn the fox, who he thinks will be electrified by the fence outside the chook house. For someone who has been bullied, Barny could have responded by making someone else hurt, but in the end he didn’t want that. ‘I can’t do it. I’m too nice,’ he said. Being himself seems a better answer.

The Nerd Herd is the first in a series and although story problem is resolved, the book ends on a ‘To Be Continued’ and ‘How will the Nerd Herd get out of this one?’ The second book in the series is called Raging Wool and is due out in June this year

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