Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Big Nate Goes Bananas

Peirce, Lincoln. Big Nate Goes Bananas September
18th 2018 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Copy provided by the publisher

You know you need it, and it's out today!

From Goodreads.com
"The school year is winding down, and Nate can’t wait for summer vacation:  baseball, beach trips, and…overripe bananas?  Yuck!

Turns out Nate has a problem with fruit that’s past its prime.  And that’s not all that’s bugging him.  Kim Cressly is making Chester jealous at Nate’s expense, Artur is challenging him in the Hunny Bursts mascot contest, and his replacement social studies teacher is none other than Coach John.  In banana terms, it’s all left Nate feeling a little bruised.  Can he make it to summer without slipping up?

Join Nate and the gang for more shenanigans in this newest collection of Big Nate comics!"

Am I the only one who has a love/hate relationship with Nate? I find him hilarious, and I love the notebook novels. However, I have some students who will ONLY read Big Nate and Wimpy Kid books. This is fine; try some Stick Dog. I LOVE Stick Dog. But at what point do you force something else into their hands because otherwise To Kill a Mockingbird is going to be a big shock to their system in ninth grade?

I had a girl in tears yesterday because she had to have a book, ANY fiction book, that had a human as the main character. It could be fantasy, but because of the essays for the project, the main character had to be human. Unfortunately, she is a huge Warrior Cats fan who doesn't read anything else. I tried books with fighting, books with cats, books set outdoors-- nothing made her happy.

At what point is it more helpful to students to encourage them to step a little bit outside their comfort zone? Since I read football books, all the fantasy books, and well, EVERYTHING, even if it's not my personal cup of tea, I have less patience for this.

Any strategies for delicately dealing with this would be appreciated!


  1. My 13 year old son loves Big Nate and has read these books since he was in 3rd grade. He thinks Big Nate is hilarious. This summer when I struggled to get him to read (no middle school summer reading assignment!), we went back to graphic novels to get him to finish five books. Graphic novels and notebook novels were how he got started reading for pleasure when he learned to read independently. I feel like this will be a lifetime of pleasure reading for him. I hope he will create his own someday!

  2. I don't really have any advice. My daughter has been utterly dedicated to graphic and notebook novels since she started reading on her own. Just now, in third grade, she's starting to inch her way into other books. But I find if I try to push that AT ALL she quietly resists. So I just keep the other books handy (in the car, etc.) and wait her out. I feel like eventually she'll have read all of the available notebook and graphic novels, and then will branch out. But I guess if a kid is a less prolific reader, they might not get there...

  3. This is super interesting to me because I ALWAYS come down on the reader's side, every time, and I ran into this often. My question for the teacher requiring the "human" protagonist is "Why?" I know as the school librarian, it is often not "ours to reason why..." but I have had my share of encounters with teachers who require certain novels because... "well, why exactly?" I gently ask. The same questions about a main character who is human could also be answered about Matthias in the Redwall books or Bilbo who, as a hobbit, is not human so The Hobbit would be out (or would it?) Applying critical literary thinking to a book she actually likes would be more productive than trying to make her eyeballs move through a book she isn't interested in. Poor kid. A book club read or a read aloud would be my idea of how to transition to something new--a group read with social aspects to it, maybe. I wonder if she would "try" a new series and then report back to you if it was grabbing her at all. Being able to articulate why we like or dislike a book is valuable.

  4. Would she be willing to try the Upside-Down Magic series (assuming your library has it)? As I recall, the main character can turn herself into kitten-like creatures, but she is human.

    Incidentally, I was like your student when I was in middle school, only my objection was to any story involving death. I wouldn't even read about orphans because the parents were dead! I remember rejecting many suggestions from my school librarian until finally I accepted Walk Two Moons, which had just come out. I loved that book and it became a favorite, and after that, I became less and less bothered by books involving death. So I do think there is definite value in gently pushing kids to read beyond the genres they most prefer, but if the student is reduced to tears over it, it's probably going to take some time with her.