Title: Big Nate: In A Class By Himself
Author: Lincoln Peirce
Pub. Date: March 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age Range: Middle grade (ages 9-12)
Synopsis/Teaser: Nate Wright may seem like your average mischief-making 6th grader, but he knows that he is “destined for greatness.” Today he has a fortune cookie prediction to prove it: Today you will surpass all others. From coming up with nicknames for his abominable social studies teacher, Mrs. Godfrey, to trying to win the heart of his long-time love interest, Jenny, he has many ways to try to make this fortune come true. But Nate may be destined for greatness in a totally unexpected way.
Review: Does the name “Big Nate” sound familiar to you? You’ve probably heard it from the popular comic strip of the same name, penned daily by Lincoln Peirce, author of this book. Or perhaps you recognize it from the “Big Nate Island” quest on Poptropica. No doubt about it, “Big Nate” is quite an empire, and now it extends to the book world.
My first impressions of the book: it is laugh-out-loud funny. Granted, most of the witticisms are nothing more than you’d expect from a 6th grader, but they are humourous none the less. The book only chronicles one day of Nate’s exploits, but, filled out with cartoons, the strategy is surprisingly effective.
But a large, impossible to ignore problem is this: Big Nate is definitely a spin-off of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. Kid who likes to cartoon, doesn’t enjoy school, thinks is going to one day be rich and famous, is humourously self-centered…the list of similarities goes on and on. Both of these series borrow a few concepts from Bill Watterson’s beloved comic strip, “Calvin and Hobbes.”
If you can put aside the obvious idea-borrowing, Big Nate: In A Class By Himself is funny and enjoyable light reading.
Recommended for: Fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid who don’t mind the repetition; cartoon lovers of all ages; and despondent middle schoolers seeking solace and a good laugh.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 possible stars