This installment of the Big Nate graphic novels sees the main character finish one year of school, begin another, play a lot of baseball, and navigate various love interests. As usual, Nate can never seem to get along with teachers or with any of his peers for very long, which is the reason why he is both the giver and recipient of “a good old fashioned wedgie” or two throughout the course of the story.
This volume has no real story arc, but rather an episodic flow with recurring themes of school struggles, baseball, unrequited love, and general mischief. There are no chapter divisions; some storylines take only one or two pages, while others continue through several pages. There is full color artwork throughout the volume, using a variety of colors. The characters are humorously drawn with oversized heads and feet, and exaggerated expressions. The panels are mostly square, with occasional variation in size and layout. The art is very typical of a comic strip for young kids, and very accessible to elementary-aged readers.
While the stories and humor involved in this volume and the Big Nate series in general are directed at young readers, there is a certain level of sophistication thrown in to make the book palatable for older readers and parents. For example, when Nate’s father tells him that he can’t give him special treatment on the baseball team because it would be nepotism, Nate complains, “But we’re family!” The storylines are very clever, and Nate’s plans always seem to be foiled in humorous ways.
As with any of the books in the Big Nate prose or graphic novel series, there are definitely some issues to consider with regard to Nate’s treatment of other kids and teachers. He can be downright mean at times, and while he usually does get what’s coming to him, he’s certainly not a quality role model. However, the book doesn’t lack for characters who are pretty good kids, including Nate’s friends. While he sometimes treats them badly, (ie. smacks to the head) their reactions to his antics serve to remind readers that Nate’s behavior isn’t a good idea. The Big Nate books appeal to many reluctant readers, which is an important reason to include them in a school or public library collection. A Good Old Fashioned Wedgie is a solid addition to any youth graphic novel collection where other Big Nate prose and graphic novels are popular.
Big Nate: A Good Old Fashioned Wedgie
by Lincoln Peirce
Andrews McMeel, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: 7-11