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Shredderman: Secret Identity

Last updated Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Author: Wendelin Van Draanen
Illustrator: Brian Biggs
Date of Publication: 2004
ISBN: 0375823514
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jul. 2007

Synopsis: From Amazon.com Fifth-grader Nolan Byrd has suffered at the hands of school bully Bubba Bixby for too long. Inspired by a class project, Nolan (a.k.a "Byrd-the-Nerd") creates a "cyber-superhero" alter ego called Shredderman, and sets out to avenge himself and his fellow Bubba-sufferers. Our likeable but nerdly and put-upon protagonist spots his shot at redemption when Mr. Green (Nolan's pony-tailed teacher, a.k.a. "the Happy Hippie") assigns the class's monthly project: Students must create a newspaper page, complete with stories and photos, on a topic of their choice. In a flash, Nolan realizes he has the perfect subject: "I had an idea that would make Bubba Bixby sorry he'd ever called us names. Or swiped our stuff. Or breathed his trashy breath down our throats. I’d do my report on Bubba Bixby!" Shortly thereafter Shredderman is born, and Nolan springs into action, armed with a computer, a cleverly concealed digital camera, and his own top-secret Web page, Shredderman.com, "where truth and justice prevail!"

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What is a Secret Identity? Do you have a secret identity?
•  Why would you need a Secret Identity? What would you do with a secret identity?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Is Shredderman a real superhero? Why do superheroes exist?
•  Would you like to be like Shredderman?
•  How do you think Shredderman got his name?
•  Did you ever feel bad for Bubba? Why do you think Bubba is mean? Is anyone born bad?
•  Why didn't Nolan never fought back earlier? Why didn’t the other kids fight back?
•  Can one person change things?
•  Why does everyone use Bubba’s nicknames when they don’t like them?
•  Was it easier for Nolan to stand up to Bubba when he was a secret identity/anonymous/Shredderman? Why was it easier?
•  Do you know any bullies? Why do bullies pick on people? How can you make them stop?
•  How do you feel about what Nolan did to get back at Bubba? Was it fair? Mean? Did Bubba deserve it?
•  How do you think Nolan felt about Bubba by the end of the book?
•  What is the mission of superheroes you know?
•  What is the moral of this story?

Craft ideas:
•  Create your own secret identity –think of a name, a super power, your mission (who you will help) and draw the costume with a logo. Make a mask and a cutout of your logo. Draw you on one of your missions. At home with a flashlight, hold your logo over the flashlight in a dark room or at night and shine it on the wall.
•  Write a story about your superhero.
•  Make a newspaper front page using the template provided. Draw a picture of an activity and write a story about it.
•  Make a superhero mask/costume.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!