Cover image for Burger Wuss
Burger Wuss
Anderson, M. T.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
192 pages ; 22 cm
Hoping to lose his loser image, Anthony plans revenge on a bully which results in a war between two competing fast food restaurants, Burger Queen and O'Dermott's.
Reading Level:
420 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 3.5 6.0 35190.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.4 11 Quiz: 20046 Guided reading level: S.
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Anthony has never been able to stand up for himself -- that is, not until he finds his girlfriend, Diana, in someone else's arms. Then Anthony vows revenge and devises The Plan. It begins with getting a job at O'Dermott's, the fast-food restaurant where Turner (a.k.a. the guy who stole his girlfriend) happens to be a star employee. It involves one anarchist, one condiment troll, and one '85 Oldsmobile named Margot. But when these ingredients are finally assembled, will The Plan satisfy Anthony's hunger for revenge? And more important, will he ever prove he's not a wuss?

Author Notes

M. T. Anderson was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on November 4, 1968. He was educated in English literature at Harvard University and Cambridge University, and received his MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. He primarily writes picture books for children and novels for young adults. His picture books include Handel, Who Knew What He Liked; Strange Mr. Satie; The Serpent Came to Gloucester; and Me, All Alone, at the End of the World. His young adult books include Thirsty, Burger Wuss, and Feed, which won the L.A. Times Book Award for YA fiction in 2003. He also writes the series A Pals in Peril Tale, and The Norumbegan Quartet.

Anderson Won the 2006 National Book Award in Young People's Literature for The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party.

His title Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad, was a finalist for the 2016 YALSA-ALA Award for Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-10. Anthony, the teenage narrator of this wild-and-crazy, story wants revenge. His girlfriend has been stolen away by a particularly nasty kid named Turner, star employee at the local O'Dermott's fast-food franchise. Anthony lands a job at O'Dermott's, goes through a ludicrous training process, and tangles with the vicious Turner, who, of course, recognizes Anthony as the wronged boyfriend, dubs him "Burger Wuss," and bullies him mercilessly. Undaunted, Anthony teams up with another employee--an anarchistic animal rights fanatic--to develop a plan that will humiliate Turner and the restaurant franchise as well. Black humor and satire abound. There are running gags about the local rivalry between O'Dermott's and Burger Queen, Anthony's well-meaning but clueless parents, and Turner's goofy friends involved in a torrid, fast-food romance. There is a marvelous parody of a television commercial that will make readers laugh out loud twice--once when they read the original script devised by the advertising people, and once again when reading the additions added to the script by Shunt, the animal-rights supporter. And then there's Anthony--a sort of teenage Woody Allen who comes to a surprising decision when he has a real chance for revenge against Turner. What a booktalk this one will make! Give it to teens who enjoy the goofy humor of Pratchett and the ferocious fun of Vonnegut--and be sure to add it to your list of good reads for reluctant readers. --Jean Franklin

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a world where every teenager works at one fast food chain or another and likes it, Anthony just doesn't fit in. His first real girlfriend has dumped him for a meathead named Turner who works at O'Dermott's, so Anthony plots revenge. He gets a job at the restaurant and embarks on a complicated plot to pit the kids from Burger Queen against the kids from O'Dermott'sÄand thereby draw the BQ wrath down on company-man Turner's head. Like Anderson's Thirsty, this book is a burlesque of teenage angst and conformist culture; the vacuous foundation of the vicious rivalry between the two food chains is underscored by a caustic portrayal of Anthony's two best friends, giddy with their own puppy love. They call each other "Ricky Licky" and "Jennster Junebug," have eyes for no one else, and then, after finally having intercourse, break up over a movie rental. Anarchist vagabond Shunt is Anthony's partner in his anti-conformity crimes: "I'm Shunt," he says, on Anthony's first day at work. "Welcome to corporate hell. Start screaming now." Although the ending is a little suddenÄand although Anthony's long delay in realizing that a girl can't be "stolen" makes him seem like a bit of a meathead himselfÄAnderson's witty tale of a lovelorn boy and his corporate antagonists is both a tasty read and a stinging satire. Ages 14-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Gr 8-10-This lightweight, sometimes tedious spoof pokes fun at the inconstancies of the fast-food generation. Anthony takes a job at O'Dermott's restaurant to make life miserable for Turner, a boy whom he blames for the alienation of the affections of his girlfriend, Diana. With intricate plans of destruction in mind, Anthony places himself in a lose-lose situation, actually at the mercy of his rival, who is his superior at O'Dermott's. In antic and broad comedic situations, Turner causes on-the-job angst for Anthony, aka "The Wuss." Invited out after work with the duplicitous Turner and other staff, he is set up in a fight with workers from the competition, Burger Queen. Anthony's revenge plan is activated with the help of grillboy, anarchist Shunt; they steal the condiment troll from Burger Queen in a daring undercover-assault mission. An anonymous letter points the finger to O'Dermott's, in general, and Turner, in specific, and his cherished car is driven into a lake by angry Burger Queen employees. Victory is not sweet for Anthony, though; he still doesn't get it. Beaten to a bloody pulp by Turner, he finally has it spelled out to him by Diana that she went after Turner, and that she dumped Anthony. Duh! The boy's parents and eavesdropping neighbor are buffoons. Dialogue among the teenagers, particularly Anthony's love-besotted best friend and girlfriend, is annoying and unrealistic. Readers will enjoy Burger Wuss for the spoof that it is, but it's hard to drum up much sympathy for a dense protagonist who takes so long to learn that he's been an idiot.-Alice Casey Smith, Sayreville War Memorial High School, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



I told them I was there for the interview. A beeper went off. For a second, the girl stared at me. The beeper was still going off. "That's the quality control beeper," she explained. "I'll go get Mike. He talks to people about working. Excuse me." She turned around. I smiled in a secret way. I thought, They will suspect nothing. I look as calm and normal as can be. Mike was the manager. He wore blue, and everyone else wore green. He seemed very friendly and held out his hand. I shook it. He said, "I'm Mike. Nice to meet you. You're Anthony?" I said, "Yes. It's nice to meet you, too." He said, "Let's sit down. Would you like a shake?" We walked out into the dining area. He said, "Now to talk, would you prefer a booth or a free-standing table?" I shrugged. I said, "Booth, I guess." He grinned. "Good!" he said. "That will be fine!" We sat down at a booth. I carefully put my hands on my lap. Over my head was a cardboard mobile of Kermit O'Dermott, an elf who talked to hamburgers. The sun was coming through the windows and searing the tile floor and the plastic vines and rhododendrons. I said, "It looks very cheerful in here today." He said, "Isn't it nice? Corporate Headquarters just sent us some new signage. It's very effective, don't you think? Now." He had a clipboard with him. My application was on it. I felt very nervous. I thought to myself, Green sateen. Green sateen. I thought this for private reasons. There are times when you have to hide what you're really up to. I said, "So." The cardboard Kermit O'Dermott was playing his magical harp. In commercials, it made beverages dance. He said, "So. Could you tell me some things you could say about yourself?" "Yes," I said. "I could tell you I'm sixteen--" "Can you drive?" "Yes," I said, "but I don't have a car. I can walk here from home." "Do you have any previous work experience?" "Yes," I said. "I had a paper route for three years. I know that isn't making burgers or anything, but, you know . . . " He was looking out the window over my shoulder. There was a Kermit O'Dermott-themed jungle gym out there, and some kids were playing on it. He turned back to me and grinned. He said, "Good, good. The reason you would like to work at O'Dermott's? Just a few words." I could not tell him the real reason. I had prepared a clever and cheerful-sounding fake reason. I told him, "I really like people. I like meeting people and I like talking with them. People are so different, and it's great to see people from all over. In a job like this, I would get to see all sorts of people that I couldn't see otherwise. Maybe I'd learn something about people that I can't even know yet." He laughed. "That's the spirit!" he said. "We work as a team here. We even play as a team." He looked out the window again at the kids on the jungle gym. "That's how it is. Should kids be doing that?" I turned around and looked out the window. I shrugged. I said, "I think kids pretty much always hit each other like that." He said, "Little kids' skulls are really soft, though. You don't know that until you have your own kids. My wife just had kids." "Oh," I said. "More than one?" He said, "Two. Twins. Two twins." I said, "I think the skull thickens after a few months or something." He said, "Well, Anthony, it just so happens that we have a position open at the moment. Do you know Diana Gritt? She also goes to Taft High. She just quit and left a cashier position open." I rubbed my knees with my fingertips. I considered evil. I thought, Green sateen. Green sateen. I said, "Oh, yeah? I know Diana Gritt." He said, "Small world. I have a few more interviews this week, but I should be able to call you back pretty quick." I said, "Really? That would be great." He said, "Great. Now let's talk about hours." Through the plastic undergrowth I could see Turner come out of the back, dressed in green. I watched him. Turner was the reason I was there. Turner and anger. He stood behind his register. He ran his hand over his greasy blond crew cut. Mike and I talked about hours. I saw Turner see me. I thought that suddenly he had an ugly look on his face. He shook his head. I laughed to myself and looked again. Now I couldn't tell if he had recognized me. I thought maybe the ugly look had just been him cleaning his molars with his tongue. Maybe he had not recognized me at all. Mike and I were done with the interview. We stood up to shake hands. I banged my knee on the table. I hunched over. When I swore, it was quietly. Mike reached out to give me a hand. I tried to smile. I was bent over a little. I rubbed the knee. Mike was saying, "We are part of a team here. I hope you'll become part of our team. I think you'll really like it here." He turned and walked toward the counter. Turner faced the other way. Before I left, I stood for a moment. I thought, Green sateen, and stared at him. I stared at his back. His neck was a boiled red. We stood there for a long time like that before I left. Some paramedics were ordering Happy Lunches. Maybe for someone else. They pointed at the board. They specified their prizes. Burger Wuss. Copyright (c) 1999 M.T. Anderson. Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA Excerpted from Burger Wuss by M. T. Anderson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.