A fun take on the animated Big Nate series, but if you’ve seen the series, you’ve read this book already. This graphic novel has three episodes in it: “The Legend of the Gunting”, “Go Nate! It’s Your Birthday”, and “CATastrophe!”. The stories are essentially shorter versions of the animated episodes. Since they are based off episodes written by different authors, these are not directly written by Lincoln Peirce.
In “The Legend of the Gunting”, our main character and prankster, Nate, is thinking about a legendary prankster that wreaked havoc all over the school campus by doing all kinds of tricky things, like swapping all the school frisbees with slices of bologna. Nate is imagining how he can get to this level, when a new student, Bentley Carter, joins P.S. 38. Nate is asked to show him around and instead, it seems that Bentley is showing Nate around the world of high level pranking. In the first hour that Bentley’s at the school he somehow manages to prank the principal by stealing his underwear, a feat that Nate can’t help but be seriously impressed by. However, with this level of pranking, things are bound to get messy.
In the second story, “Go Nate! It’s Your Birthday,” we find big sister Ellen giving Nate a hard time, as usual, and Nate’s dad, Martin, continuing to be fearful of just about everything. Nate takes his friends on a spending spree to celebrate his birthday, which is a ton of fun until they get a massive bill at the end. Now Nate and his friends need to figure out how they’re going to manage to get themselves out of this situation.
In the third story in this series, “CATastrophe!” we have Nate up to his usual shenanigans. He craftily conjures up a distraction for his teacher that allows him to be partnered up with Jenny instead of Kim for a school project. Nate is so excited about this match up that he’s ready to work on the assignment as soon as class is out, instead of waiting until the last minute. Things don’t go quite as Nate has planned and a series of silly and comical situations ensue.
Overall, this is a very fun fast paced version of Big Nate. The artwork looks like it’s screenshots taken directly from the animated series. This is mixed in with pages stylized as graphic novel panels of snapshots of notebook pages filled with doodles and scribbles. The book is in full color with minimal text and short text bubbles.
This graphic novel is essentially a condensed version of the animated series. If your child enjoyed watching it, there are going to be no surprises in this book. It’s the same fun set of characters with all the silly situations that we find in the show. There are sure to be a lot of laughs. However, with no new stories and not a whole lot of text for children to read, the original Big Nate books (with a lot of text, pictures, and all kinds of fun page designs that keep readers engaged) are still a more worthwhile choice.
Big Nate: Destined for Awesomeness (Big Nate TV Series, vol 1)
By Lincoln Peirce
Andrews McMeel, 2022
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11)