Thursday, April 14, 2011

Big Nate: In a Class by Himself, by Lincoln Peirce (ages 9 - 12)

When I ask a lot of kids what type of book they want, they tell me they want a funny book. There are a lot of books that try to make kids laugh, but funny is hard to do well. Of course, kids eat up The Diary of the Wimpy Kid series like it's ice cream. And many love comic books like Calvin and Hobbes or graphic novels like Babymouse. A series we've just added to the library is Big Nate, by Lincoln Peirce, and I think the kids are going to love this. It had me laughing out loud in many places as I read it - full of comic genius. Kids will love the humor, and they'll love the way it's a great story but is also filled with comic inserts, doodles and drawings by Nate himself.
Big Nate: In a Class by HimselfBig Nate: In a Class by Himself
by Lincoln Peirce
NY: HarperCollins, 2010
ages 9 - 12
available on Amazon and at your local library
It's going to be a great day - Nate's just sure of it. He's always been sure that he's destined for greatness. And now he's sure of it! His fortune cookie says, "Today you will surpass all others." WOW! So just how will he surpass all others, he wonders. Maybe he's destined to be a great poet? Hmmm, but his poetic genius is focused on his love for Cheez Doodles. How about getting into the Guinness Book of World Records. Then he'd definitely surpass all others - wouldn't he? So Nate decides to try to break the record speed eating - yep, speed eating would be great! But what do they have LOTS of in the school cafeteria? Green beans. Lots and lots of green beans that no one will eat.
Big Nate
Like Jeff Kinney did with the Diary of the Wimpy Kid, Lincoln Peirce originally developed his character of Big Nate in a free on-line comic strip. Big Nate comics are still running, and he's got his own island on the Poptropica website. Lincoln Peirce is doing a great job of engaging kids on many different platforms. But what I admire most is that he's created a real character, and his stories are not only funny in places, they hang together and make me want to read more. As Roger Sutton, editor-in-chief of the Horn Book Magazine wrote for the Junior Library Guild,
Lots of books use pictures to trick kids into reading, but in Peirce’s books, the illustrations are seamlessly part of the plot. And even while the jokes get expertly, tirelessly, pitched, the story never gets left behind. Both Big Nate books have beginnings, middles and ends, and while Nate never quite learns his lesson—part of his charm, and why he can sustain a series—he’s not running in place, either.
Big Nate is an Emerson All-Star, one of the most popular books among our 4th and 5th graders. Big Nate: In a Class by Himself has been nominated for the Children's Book Week contest for 5th and 6th graders - head over here to vote. Here's the full line up of the series so far:
  1. Big Nate: In a Class by Himself
  2. Big Nate Strikes Again
  3. Big Nate Out Loud (on sale April 26th)
extra fun stuff:
Big Nate: From the Top - a collection of Big Nate comic strips
Big Nate Boredom Buster - jokes, comics, quizzes, and doodling prompts
For kids who love Big Nate, I'd know they'd love Calvin and Hobbes. But I'd also try them on Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freezes, by Alan Silberberg, which is very funny but also a longer story.

The review copy came from Amazon (thank you to all who support Great Kid Books by clicking through to Amazon - it really helps me discover new books for kids!). If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this page, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you).

Review ©2011 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.

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