By Ben, 24 March 2019
“Oh, yeah! I was shocked! Stunned! Flabbergasted! Hornwoggled! Gobsmacked!” – Nate Wright.
Sunday afternoons are for loafing around and reading comics. At least that’s my idea of the perfect Sunday.
Ben’s recommendation for the lazy weekend is a volume from the extensive Big Nate series of comic strip compilations. Ben and I discuss why Big Nate is such a hit with him, as well as with boys and girls in Grades 3 and 4.
M: Why do you like reading Big Nate comics?
B: Because most of the time, the jokes are funny. It is funny when Big Nate faints when someone says “egg salad” because he doesn’t like it. His friend Francis faints when he sees blood. Big Nate also draws funny pictures of his teachers.
M: So the main character is Nate? Why is he called big? Is he a large kid?
B: Ummmm, I don’t know. It doesn’t say so, maybe it’s just his nickname? He’s not bigger, he’s kind of normal.
M: I see. What is Nate like? His personality, his character … ?
B: He’s messy and a slob because his locker, when you open it, lots of things fall out. One of the books has a long list of those things, and it’s not even the complete list! He’s funny, and sometimes, he sucks up to teachers because once he had a bet with Gina – the annoying classmate who is really stuck-up – that he wouldn’t have to do detention. He won the bet.
M: So Nate gets into trouble and gets sent to detention?
B: Yeah, by his teacher, Ms Godfrey who is their social studies teacher, like history, writing, all of those. They are supposed to have a French class, but I’ve never seen them go to French class.
M: Back to detention then. How often does Nate get sent to detention?
B: Almost every class. In one book, he had the most detention hours in a day, from every class. That’s 6 classes, so like 6 detentions.
M: What is detention?
B: You just sit around for a period, like an hour, you can do your work but that’s it.
M: Does Nate like detention?
B: He’s used to it, because he does it every day. Another kid Chester, is always at detention and he’s a big kid that stuffs other kids into desks. Not lockers, but those desks with the flippy cover.
M: Who are the other characters in the comics that you like?
B: There’s Francis, who is Nate’s friend but sometimes they get into arguments. Francis annoys Nate by telling him his hair is boingy. There’s Teddy who is also Nate’s friend. They all play baseball and soccer together. There is also a girl called Kim who has a crush on Nate. She forces him to dances and stuff, he can’t say no because she’ll come and carry him over her shoulder and carry him there. Once Kim dumped Nate, at a dance, and Nate was really happy.
M: What is your favourite story from this book, Thunka, Thunka, Thunka? What does that mean anyway?
B: When Nate is stressed, he uses a bottle to whack his head, not really hard, and that is the sound it makes. For Nate, it feels good, apparently, but I’m not sure.
M: Yes, maybe squishing a squishy would be a better form of stress relief. What’s that favourite story then?
B: Nate is playing a scribble game with his dad, where you make a scribble and turn it into something. Nate teaches his dad, but his dad isn’t very creative, he doesn’t even know if the lines can be curvy or straight! It’s funny when Nate tells his dad he has no creativity.
M: Ah, honesty. Kids are good at that. Heartless almost. Who would you recommend these books to?
B: If people like humour, they should read these books because they are funny and also if they like stories about middle school. Real middle school isn’t like this though, in real life school is more strict. And real teachers are not as weird as the teachers in the books either. Kids who are younger than 7 might not get the jokes, so I think you have to be at least 7 years old.
M: Thanks Ben.
B: You’re welcome. Can I play air soccer now?
For ages 7 and above.