Super Con-Nerd by Oliver Phommavanh

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Penguin Random House, 2017. ISBN 9780143306535
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Themes: School; Friendship; High Achievers/Gifted and Talented students; Cartooning Con-Nerd is back! Super-nerd Connor has started High School at the selective school that is filled to the brim with students who are equally nerd-ish and high achieving . . . and it seems that now he might even be a little bit ordinary. His extreme comic-book skills are yet to be displayed and he is struggling with his place in his year 7 class. This exploration of learning your place in a new school combined with the gentle art of balancing friendships and responsibilities while living with parental expectations (roll out 'Tiger Mum' who is still learning how to be a gentler version of herself) is both funny and refreshingly honest. Con-nerd needs to work out how to be good friends with his former Primary School mates while nurturing new connections in his alt-nerd group at High School.  His Chinese heritage (most obviously expressed with prayers at his late Father's shrine) adds a cross-cultural perspective and could also provide insight into the weight of family expectations. Con-nerd does eventually get an opportunity to display his talents, but there are challenges along the way.
The joy of this book is that it deals with 'big issues' for the young characters, but demonstrates that it is possible to be honourable even when things are tough.
Carolyn Hull