Review: ‘Big Nate: Welcome to My World’
Big Nate: Welcome to My World
By Lincoln Peirce
Ages 8 to 12
Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate is an enjoyable comic, for sure, but it’s hard to see why it is so phenomenally popular. There isn’t anything particularly unusual about his formula: Big Nate is a sixth-grader with a somewhat overdeveloped ego and a goofy group of friends. He has a mean teacher and a nice teacher, a big sister and a single dad. That’s about it. If Nate has a defining characteristic, it’s that he’s always looking for an angle: He joins a book club just for the snacks, he borrows $10 from a friend to buy an action figure he thinks is worth a lot more, he tries (without success) to butter up his teacher.
While the premise may not break new ground, Peirce pulls it off really well. This book starts out with Nate’s grandparents visiting the school, and they acted so—well, grandparent-ish—that I was laughing out loud. Nate is bombastic but Peirce doesn’t overdo it, so it never becomes obnoxious. His friends are a diverse group, although the girls are pretty stereotyped: There’s a know-it-all smart girl with glasses and a sweet, rather bland girl that Nate likes.
Of course, Big Nate is a daily comic strip, and the funny pages seldom stray far from the standard tropes. This book is mostly four-panel gag comics interspersed with longer strips (presumably the ones that ran on Sunday). Each comic has its own punchline but they also fall into distinct story arcs: Nate takes a life-saving class, Nate’s father tries to get him to cut back on the Cheez Doodles. Each one is just about the right length—Peirce sets up a gag and runs with it, then ends it before it gets old.
The strips are all in color, and there’s a color poster in the back of the book. At 174 pages for $9.99, the book felt a bit slim when I first picked it up, but when I was done I felt like it had been a satisfying read.
Filed under: Reviews
About Brigid Alverson
Brigid Alverson, the editor of the Good Comics for Kids blog, has been reading comics since she was 4. She has an MFA in printmaking and has worked as a book editor and a newspaper reporter; now she is assistant to the mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts. In addition to editing GC4K, she writes about comics and graphic novels at MangaBlog, SLJTeen, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Comic Book Resources, MTV Geek, and Good E-Reader.com. Brigid is married to a physicist and has two daughters in college, which is why she writes so much. She was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards.
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