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 Goes for Broke, based on the Big Nate comic strip, captures the small and large dramas of life in sixth grade with smart style. Sixth-grader Nate doesn't enjoy school, and the book is peppered with unflattering caricatures: nerds, jocks, bullies, teachers, girls. Yet despite his preteen sarcasm, Nate is a good kid at heart. The comic format is packed with treats, including extra drawings and activities on the inside covers and a code used throughout the book.
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What's the story?
The best part of school for Nate is after school, when his cartooning club at P.S. 38 meets. But he's dismayed to learn that rival Jefferson Middle has a bigger cartooning club. And then his adviser says the all-boy group needs girls, so he reluctantly invites drama queen Dee Dee (and accidentally takes her to a dance). As if that isn't bad enough, a broken sprinkler system forces P.S. 38 to temporarily relocate to hated Jefferson, and then Nate breaks his wrist, leading him to team up with Dee Dee to finish his comic book. But he thinks he's figured out Jefferson's weakness and proposes a school contest to try to give P.S. 38 a chance to shine.
Is it any good?
BIG NATE GOES FOR BROKE, the fourth book in the Big Nate series, will resonate with older elementary and middle school students, especially boys. Parents might cringe at some of the stereotyping (the books opens with an illustrated put-down of clubs for kids who like math, knitting, fantasy, and so on) but kids will laugh out loud -- and recognize that Nate, like almost every 12-year-old, feels like an outsider, too.
Creativity proves to be a valuable asset in the story, and it's a wonderful strength of the book. The mix of narrative and comic illustration make it a quick, fun read, with extra treats tucked throughout the pages. It's a great choice to inspire kids with a penchant for doodling.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the style of the book. Is it a novel? A comic? A journal?
What do you think about all the stereoytpes in the book? Kids: Do you have all these types of kids at your school? Or are people more complex than labels like "nerds" and "jocks" indicate?
Why do you think the Big Nate books are so popular with kids?
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