Title: The Nerd Herd: Raging Wool
Author: Nathan Luff, illustrated by Chris Kennett
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Published: 1st June 2021
Synopsis: Individually they’re meek, mild and soft. But together, with their combined talents, they’re a herd. The Nerd Herd. Barny the Lamb and his friends may have scared off the fox. But now they have a new problem. A gigantic bull (with behavioural issues) is on the loose. Can Barny and his gang get the bull back in his pen and earn the respect of the petting-zoo farm? Or will this be another big mis-steak?
Barny and his friends are back – and fresh from chasing off the fox that was trying to take over the farm, they are now trying to get a bull with behavioural issues back into his pen in the petting zoo – but will the rest of the farm let them, or will they do everything they can to prove the Nerd Herd can’t do what they say they will do?
Following on directly from the first book, the action doesn’t appear to be taking a break – and Barny, Billy, Shaama Llama Ding Dong and the rest of the Nerd Herd are thrust into getting T-Bone back into his pen whilst Ethel and the other chooks, and Plus Sized Puss watch them, and don’t seem to want to help them (but they do enjoy mocking them and telling them they’re doing the wrong thing). So what are the Nerds to do? Well, they come up with several clever plans – but which one is going to ultimately work. But when a bull has behavioural issues, how does one make sure he gets into his pen whilst ensuring that the petting zoo isn’t destroyed at the same time?
With the clear and fun humour that began in leaps and bounds from the first book, the second book captures more of the fun and whimsy of the characters as they have more challenges and disasters thrown at them. It feels as though they never sleep, but they must at some point. The fast-paced nature of this book will keep kids reading long past their bed time, which can only be a good thing, and the brightly coloured two-tone pages will highlight words that kids need to learn, and help them recognise harder to learn words by often pairing them with Chris Kennett’s fun and joyful illustrations that give so much life to the words, and create a sense of whimsy, fun and magic to pull kids and the adults reading with them into the story.
The Nerd Herd are the underdogs in the petting zoo, and there are always going to be those who think they won’t succeed or don’t want them to succeed. Yet with their gusto and determination, the Nerd Herd will face any challenge that the petting zoo throws at them. These books celebrate being different, and are excellent next steps for independent readers seeking that next step in their chapter books that moves closer towards more text than images, but still gets the beautiful balance that evokes a wonderful story that all readers can enjoy and build their literacy and reading skills with whilst having lots of fun with it at the same time. Books like these are important and ones that will always have heart and a fabulous sense of creating something fun and educational at the same time.