A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
What's the story?
Nate is an average middle-schooler who isn't crazy about school, doing his best to navigate the treacherous waters of 6th grade. There are teachers to battle with, boys and girls to impress, classes to get out of and homework to dodge. Can Nate survive another day in the trenches with just a sense of humor and his wits?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about single-dad households. Do you see many stories about kids being raised by dads? Do you know any kids raised by dads? What are the unique challenges they face?
Nate uses his sense of humor to cope with situations that might be difficult or embarrassing. Have you used your sense of humor to deal with anything? What happened? How did it turn out?
Nate is very interested in being cool. Do you want to be cool? How would you describe what it means to be cool?
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