A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this humorous book is based on the comic strip Big Nate. Illustrated in the same cartoon style as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid, it is a little milder and sweeter than that series. Although the characters are sixth-graders, the humor will appeal to younger readers and especially to boys. Nate faces challenges universal to 12-year-old boys: a test at school, the desire to be liked by his peers, and dealing with simple plans that go awry. The humor mostly comes at the expense of Nate himself, particularly when he is trying to impress someone and fails. Nate lives in a single parent household with no mention of his mother.
What's the story?
Sixth-grader Nate heads for school dreading a social studies test. If he fails, it could mean summer school. When his best friend gives him a fortune cookie before school and the fortune says "You will surpass all others" Nate is inspired; will he surpass everyone in soccer, or cartooning, or table football? But the cookie leads to his first detention slip of the day for eating in class, and by lunchtime he is desperate to make his fortune come true -- by setting a world record for eating the most green beans. That earns him another detention slip, but Nate can't seem to stop himself from goofing around, trying to impress the girl he likes, and the endlessly grouchy teachers are happy to keep handing him more detentions. Readers may figure out what record Nate manages to break before he reaches detention at the end of one very long school day.
Is it any good?
The cartoon style will entertain any reader who enjoys comic books, and the slapstick humor will appeal to many boys. The core of the story is the friendship between Nate and his best friends Teddy and Francis, and the way they help each other survive the perils of middle school. Nate is a very high-energy kid with overflowing self-esteem and his ability to maintain his sense of humor may encourage kids who find the trials of adolescence something they'd like to keep laughing about for a while longer. Unrequited crushes, grouchy teachers, and feeling misunderstood is tough even for kids who still want books with a few booger jokes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Nate's day at school. What was your worst day ever like? Do you rate your days?
Nate has high hopes for future greatness. He lists four areas of possible greatness ahead. What areas do you think you will excel at?
Nate is the class clown. Do you have any extra-funny kids in your class? Are they well-liked? What kind of humor is not popular?
For kids who love school stories and humor
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.