Big Nate: In a Class by Himself: Big Nate, Book 1

Book review by
Debra Bogart, Common Sense Media
Big Nate: In a Class by Himself: Big Nate, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Milder than Wimpy Kid and a sure hit with boys.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 40 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value
Positive Messages

Nate is having a pretty bad day, but he never loses his self-confidence or his sense of humor.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nate's best friends stick with him through it all, and although Nate thinks his dad is clueless, he clearly respects him and cares about him. One of Nate's hobbies is cartooning, and the adults in ths book, mostly teachers, are pretty much all caricutures.


The girl that Nate has had a crush on since first grade has been "going out" with another boy for four months; they hold hands in the halls. Another couple is seen kissing in the hallway.


Some mild name calling: "butthead," "dork," and "geek."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byBrettScott April 8, 2011

Cute with no positive messages

It is a bit funny, but very negative. Nate believes he is destined for greatness and everyone around him is an idiot - including his family, teachers and frien... Continue reading
Adult Written byBuddyIV July 21, 2020

Disrespectful ripoff of Wimpy Kid

Disappointed this book was in my child's school library. After making the principal aware of the book and asking him to read only the first few pages it wa... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old June 3, 2014


This book is great and is giving me a heads up what middle school is like. It is like a arcade game. Will you get a thousand? Nope 5. It is probably for 11 year... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old October 22, 2011

big nate in a class by himself is a nice story

i think this book is interesting and i think its funny. i think it makes lol (laugh out loud) and fun to read iw ould like people to read this fun book.

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love school stories and humor

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