A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will learn about the trials and tribulations of daily life as an 11-year-old, particularly life in middle school.
Big Nate: From the Top demonstrates the power of a sense of humor in the face of disappointments, embarrassments, and everyday challenges.
Positive Role Models
Adults are engaged and present, but often shown as well-meaning but out of touch, or easily upset or provoked. Kids are realistically flawed, and drawn with relatable problems.
Violence & Scariness
Very minor references to situations which inspire feelings of violence but without violence shown, such as when Nate says that being called "Dude" makes him want to punch someone in the face.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Nate and friends explore the benign beginnings of interest in the opposite sex. In one panel, they read a copy of Cosmo and try to decipher an article on women who like bad boys, even going so far as trying to dress like a bad boy, but without understanding the true meaning of the phrase.
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Very minor diminishing language, such as calling something "stupid" or saying "I hate that kid."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Big Nate: From the Top is a New York Times bestselling collection of Lincoln Peirce's comic strips of the same name (not one of his Big Nate graphic novels, such as Big Nate Goes for Broke). The strips portray the ups and downs in the life of 11-year-old, often in trouble Nate, the middle-school son of a single dad. There are some classic preteen put-downs, and some of Nate's experiences concern the stirrings of interest in the opposite sex, but are all fairly innocuous and treated with humor. Additionally, most adults are portrayed as a bit bumbling or out of touch. While Nate isn't a stellar role model, he's a smart, imaginative, and relatable character for kids who aren't big fans of school.
Is It Any Good?
Kids who aren't big readers or who themselves feel like outsiders will take well to both Big Nate graphic novels like Big Nate in Class by Himself and comic strip collections like this one. Much like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing for previous generations, BIG NATE: FROM THE TOP focuses on a marginalized middle schooler doing his best to get through the daily grind of teachers, classmates, and life as a preteen. Nate isn't the greatest role model for boys — he spends a lot of energy trying to get out of things, goofing off, and worrying about impressing girls or staying out of trouble. However, he's a smart kid with a quick wit, the sort who is likely to find his niche a little later than others.
The Big Nate books are easy to read, relatable, and sympathetic to clever outcasts. Parents who've struggled to find a good literacy connection point for their middle-school boys may have luck here, where there are some good lessons about humor and clever problem-solving that can shore up confidence in reading, and at school.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.