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*Shredderman 2: Attack of the Tagger* by Wendelin Van Draanen, illustrated by Brian Biggs - young readers book review

Also by Wendelin Van Draanen:

Sammy Keyes and the Showdown in Sin City
Sammy Keyes and the Power of Justice Jack
The Running Dream
Confessions of a Serial Kisser
Shredderman 1: Secret Identity

Also written and/or illustrated by Brian Biggs:

Brownie and Pearl Step Out

Brownie and Pearl Get Dolled Up
Brownie and Pearl See the Sights
Brownie and Pearl Hit the Hay
Brownie and Pearl Take a Dip
Everything Goes: In the Air
Shredderman 1: Secret Identity
Shredderman 2: Attack of the Tagger
by Wendelin Van Draanen, illustrated by Brian Biggs
Grades 3-6 176 pages Knopf April 2006 Paperback    

There’s a tagger making quite a mess around Cedar Valley. His signature graffiti started in the Old Town Square, continued onto Mr. Green’s car, then across a park fence. He was even nimble enough to spray paint the inside of a tube slide! He needs to be caught. Fifth grader Nolan Byrd says “….in the name of truth and justice I couldn’t just stand by and watch. I had to do something!” Nolan, using his secret identity as Shredderman, is determined to discover the criminal.

Nolan, who can do complicated math in his head, understands that people think he’s a nerd - The evidence in last year’s school yearbook is evidence enough of that. However, Nolan is not letting the label get him down. Instead, he uses his intelligence to help others. He creates the website and starts to expose the villains in his town. In the first Shredderman book, Alvin “Bubba” Bixby is proven to be the school bully. Bubba’s bullying ways and big bum are all over the website for everyone to see. Using his digital camera and staying inconspicuous, Nolan starts to gather tagger evidence. With a suspect list narrowed down to a few names, Nolan comes up with a plan that may bring the criminal to light. While in his homemade leaf bag disguise, Nolan finally sees who the troublemaker is.

Attack of the Tagger is the second of four books in Wendelin Van Draanen's "Shredderman" series. Although Nolan would like to remain mostly anonymous, with only his sidekick “The Bouncer” knowing his real identity, in this book a few more people come to know who Shredderman really is. The news makes one person turn white and one person smile big.

Shredderman is a superhero children can relate to. When Nolan’s out solving injustices, he has no cape or superpowers. He simply uses his brain and his technology skills when dealing with injustice - and he does have a backpack and cargo pants that come in handy when he’s out gathering facts. This hero even cleans his own dirty clothes after surveillance. Despite his abilities, he’s continually trying to convince his mom he can take care of himself. Unfortunately, his try at making waffles with peanut butter for breakfast is not the best way to do so. Meanwhile, spying in bathroom stalls, accompanying his dad (a reporter for the Cedar Valley Gazette) to a crime scene, and escaping from a truck full of heaping garbage are all in a day's work for this hero trying to expose the tagger.

Shredderman originator Wendelin Van Draanen is also the author of the story Flipped, by far one of my favorite books. Children who finish the Shredderman series can switch to the Sammy Keyes series and begin reading about another of Van Draanen's characters.

The illustrations by Brian Biggs will definitely appeal to children. Some of the illustrations are reminiscent of caricatures, especially Bubba and Dr. Voss. Bubba, with his crooked sitting nose and caterpillar eyebrow, and Dr. Voss with her huge flipped-up-and-out, curled-around, shellacked-looking hairstyle are some of the exaggerated character details. Brian Briggs, who is also a graphic novelist and designer, brings a great look to Nolan, Mr. Green, Dr. Voss, and the other characters in Cedar Valley.

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  Tanya Boudreau/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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