Book Review: ‘Big Nate Lives It Up’ by Lincoln Peirce

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Nate Wright may be living it up in Big Nate Lives It Up, but he’s doing a bit of growing up as well.

Based on the syndicated comic strip of the same name, the Big Nate book series is a collection of full-length illustrated novels that still retains the wit and humor of the daily comic strip. In his latest book, author and illustrator Lincoln Peirce goes beyond superficial middle school dilemmas like group projects, gross lunches, and school rivalries and delves into issues that readers on the cusp of young adulthood are likely dealing with themselves.

image courtesy Andrews McMeel
Image courtesy Andrews McMeel

When Nate is given the assignment of showing the new kid around, he is less than enthusiastic. With a name like Breckenridge Puffington III, a squeaky voice, and a passion for botany, not only is the kid undeniably pick-on-able, but Nate can’t shake the nagging suspicion that he knows him from somewhere. It’s just as Nate begins to let down his guard and reassess his initial impressions about Breckenridge that, to his horror, he discovers why he looks so familiar: Breckenridge was the bully that menaced Nate in daycare. Can Nate learn to get over his long-standing grudge and become friends with a former tormentor? How do you forgive someone who used to pee in your sippy cup? As the school’s 100th birthday celebration approaches, he’ll have to figure it out quickly if he and Breckenridge are going to beat Gina and Randy in the scavenger hunt to save their crumbling school.

Big Nate Lives It Up has plenty of classic Nate humor, and Nate’s own drawings are as brilliant and funny as ever, but it’s the flowing narrative and its underlying lessons of acceptance and forgiveness that make this book more than a mere comic strip collection and instead an illustrated novel that resonates with middle school readers.

About the Author

Lincoln Peirce is the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of the Big Nate book series as well as the creator of the syndicated Big Nate comic strip. If you missed it, be sure to check out my interview with Lincoln where he talks with his biggest fan (my son) about comic strips, horrible teachers, and middle school crushes.

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