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Dork in disguise



1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, ©1999.
Physical Description:
164 pages ; 22 cm
Starting middle school in a new town, brainy Jerry Flack changes his image from "dork" to "cool kid," only to discover that he'd rather be himself.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.2 4.0 39900.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.5 8 Quiz: 23864 Guided reading level: R.


Call Number

On Order



Last year, Jerry Flack was a dork. So this year, at a new school in a new town, he's decided to start a new life - as a cool kid. Things get off to a good start, and before you know it, Jerry's in. But soon Jerry finds himself tangeld out in web of lies.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-Jerry Flack is really smart-smart enough to have been labeled dork, geek, and nerd throughout his school career. When his family moves to a new town, he sees the possibilities for a major lifestyle change. Hiding his glasses in his backpack and his academic abilities behind ripped jeans and a cool-guy strut (which he perfects in the mirror at home), Jerry manages to insinuate himself into the coolest group in the sixth grade. He is puzzled and disappointed when life isn't as exciting as he expected, and he is unsure how to respond when he's invited to join the science team, based on his outstanding record from his previous school. Jerry loves science (he is even building a working hovercraft at home), but competing on the team is definitely uncool. On the other hand, the science-team kids are more interesting to be around. It's a tough choice, but in the end Jerry decides that being himself is a lot more fun than being cool. Dork in Disguise is similar in setting, mood, and message to Gorman's The Miraculous Makeover of Lizard Flanagan (HarperCollins, 1994), about a sixth-grade girl trying to reconcile her identity as a jock with the social expectations that come along with entering middle school. As with that title, many readers will enjoy and identify with this humorous story.-Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Gorman (The Marvelous Makeover of Lizard Flanagan) retreads Polonius's well-worn exhortation in this familiar tale of a sixth-grader who wants to be "cool." When his family moves, science-loving Jerry resolves to shed his "dork" image. Hence he starts at his new school in a blur, because he leaves his uncool glasses at home. However, his vision isn't so fuzzy that he can't see and fall hard for gorgeous airhead Cinnamon, who, in turn, is impressed by the handsome and equally vacuous Gabe. What's a dork to do? Under the unlikely tutelage of classmate Brenda (who tells Jerry that it takes a dork to know one), he learns to rip his new jeans fashionably and to strut, and with his new look and the self-promoting lies he spins, he's in like Flynn. The only problem is that Jerry finds that he's happier with Brenda and the other science club members than with Cinnamon's vapid crowd. It doesn't take much to figure out which group Jerry will ultimately decide to stick with. The story is essentially amiable, but even though Gorman has one of the "cool" boys furtively express an interest in science, the portrayal of good-looking kids as shallow ignoramuses and intellectuals as unattractive misfits perpetuates stereotypes. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

Jerry Flack, a sixth-grade dork, gets lessons in coolness from his new friend Brenda. Jerry is accepted into the cool clique but inevitably learns that being cool means sublimating his true interests. It's a familiar story with a number of stereotyped characters, but humor keeps the plot jumping, and the novel's resolution is admirably restrained. From HORN BOOK Spring 2000, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A book that celebrates the many notches of cool; although the territory isn't new, Gorman (Jennifer-the-Jerk is Missing, 1994, etc.) makes sure readers enjoy this lesson in what makes a dork tick. Jerry Flack is a dork, and he knows it; he exhibits all the prime characteristics, from wearing glasses to loving science and getting good grades. When he moves to a new neighborhood, Jerry decides on the lofty goal of becoming cool, but Brenda, for one, sees through his disguise instantly, and offers to give him lessons. He tears his jeans just right, struts just like Gabe and Tony, and gains the attention of the lovely Cinnamon. Cool comes at a price, of course; Jerry has to tell lies frequently, and ignore the fact that Cinnamon is an airhead. The sacrifice he can't bring himself to make is turning down the chance to be on the science team. It will be no surprise to readers that Jerry is smart enough to realize that his real friend is Brenda, and it's predictable that the cool kids come over to his side'because this is fiction, and such things happen in books. A funny tale, with a truly in-your-face cover illustration, meant to snag those who care about cool and those who pretend they don't. (Fiction. 8-12)

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-7. Jerry Flack has always scored high on the "dorkometer" of life, but this year, at a new school, he's determined to get into the cool group. The first thing to go is his glasses. Cool guys do not wear glasses. On the first day, a girl asks outright why he's not wearing them. She noticed his squinting and the dents on the sides of his nose. Right away she's blown his cover. Jerry quickly discovers that Brenda McAdams reads him like a book, but she's still friendly and even offers to help him change his image. After telling a few lies about himself, Jerry is soon "in." But there's a cost: he absolutely adores science, but he can't be on the science team. He also has to keep lying, and he can't be true to the feelings he begins to have for Brenda. In this hilarious novel, wonderfully constructed and beautifully paced, Jerry and Brenda are believable, as is their friendship, which Jerry fortunately chooses instead of maintaining his guise. --Shelley Townsend-Hudson