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Big Nate: In a Class by Himself
Big Nate In a Class by Himself.jpg
Author Lincoln Peirce
Series Big Nate
Genre Fiction
Publisher HarperCollins
Publication date
March 23, 2010
Media type Print (Paperback and Hardcover)
Pages 214
ISBN 0061944343
LC Class PZ7.P361Bi 2010
Followed by Big Nate: Strikes Again 

Big Nate: In a Class by Himself (referred to as Big Nate: The Boy with the Biggest Head in the World in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia) is a children's fiction novel based on the Big Nate comic strip, written and illustrated by American cartoonist Lincoln Peirce. It is the first of the Big Nate novel series, followed by Big Nate Strikes Again. It was published on March 23, 2010 by HarperCollins and was nominated in 2011 for a Children's Choice Book Award by the Children's Book Council.


Nate Wright is dreaming when he wakes up to another ordinary morning of his life: breakfast of lumpy raisin oatmeal, his older sister, Ellen, and school. Believing that there will be a test that day after seeing his best friend Francis studying through his window, Nate becomes afraid of failing his test and having to attend summer school. He attempts to forge an excuse note, only to be caught by Francis. Nate confesses to the forgery, and Francis replies that there was no test scheduled for that day, he was just reading his textbook for fun. At school, Nate realizes he forgot his lunch, so his second best friend Teddy offers to share his lunch and gives Nate a fortune cookie to hold him over in the meantime. When Nate opens the fortune cookie, it tells him: "Today you will surpass all others".

Despite not believing in fortune cookies due to their often nonsensical meanings, Nate chooses to believe what the fortune claims. The school day starts off with homeroom and Social Studies with Mrs. Godfrey, where Nate checks a list of insulting nicknames for Mrs. Godfrey. Godfrey catches him and gives him a detention slip (ironically, Nate almost got one for eating in homeroom). In English, Nate yells at his nemesis Gina for humiliating him for writing a love poem to his crush, Jenny, and is caught by Ms. Clarke. During Mr. Rosa's art class, Nate sees that his frenemy Artur's picture received the spotlight instead of his own, causing Nate to attempt to convince Mr. Rosa to place Nate's picture in the spotlight instead. When Mr. Rosa refuses, Nate attempts to swap the pictures himself, only to damage the display case, get caught by Mr. Rosa, and get his third detention slip of the day (it was the first one Mr. Rosa had handed out all year).

During lunch in the cafetorium (cafeteria), Nate attempts to break a world record for speed-eating by eating 60 hot dogs or 45 slices of pizza in 10 minutes, only to discover that neither hot dogs nor pizza is being served that day. Instead, Nate is encouraged by Francis to eat 148 servings of green beans, one of Nate's least favorite foods, as no one eats their green beans at lunch. The record setting is cut when Principal Nichols notices the commotion and yells at Nate, causing him to spit the green beans in his mouth onto the table in order to speak. Principal Nichols then declares lunch over and orders Nate to clean up the mess, before slipping in a puddle of bean juice, causing him to take Nate to his office, where he gives Nate both a lecture and his 4th detention slip of the day.

As a result, Nate ends up being late for gym class. Nate attempts to wash the mess from the green bean juice off his mouth in the locker room, only for water to spill onto his gym shorts, giving the impression that he wet his pants. Unable to find any other gym shorts, Nate grabs a pair of large shorts, which ends up belonging to the substitute gym teacher, Coach John, who gets the impression that Nate is mocking him. Because of this, Nate is forced by Coach John to run wind sprints and is given yet another detention slip.

In Math, Mr. Staples assigns a pop quiz, which Nate at first thinks there are twelve questions and appears to finish ahead of everyone else with 10 minutes to spare. After time is up, Nate discovers that the quiz was double sided with eight more questions (twenty total), and that he'd only done the front side. Nate attempts to finish the back of the quiz, only to get caught by Mr. Staples. Mr. Staples attempts to take the quiz paper, but Nate refuses to hand it in unfinished, resulting in a "tug of war," causing the quiz to rip in half, and also causing Nate to receive a detention slip from Mr. Staples.

During Science, Nate attempts to get Mr. Galvin to laugh using pranks and jokes, due to Galvin's reputation of never smiling. The attempts fail, and Galvin confiscates Nate's pen in the process. When the pen stains Mr. Galvin's shirt, Nate ends up laughing, prompting Mr. Galvin to give Nate his seventh and final detention slip of the day. At the end of the day Nate begins heading to the detention room while flashing back to the last time he had detention: while Nate and Francis were running the chess club bake sale, one of Nate's rivals named Randy stole one of Francis's mom's lemon squares. When Nate confronts him, Randy throws the square away and it hits Mrs. Godfrey, who begins to write a detention slip for Nate after Randy uses him as a scapegoat, causing Nate to throw his dad's coconut yogurt pie (which no one was touching) in Randy's face, earning him five detentions. Back in the present, Nate reports to the detention room, where the room monitor Mrs. Czerwicki informs Nate that he had received more detention slips in one day than anyone else in the history of the school (seven), essentially "surpassing all others" in P.S. 38. Upon realizing that his fortune "came true", Nate becomes happy, therefore leading to sign a drawing he had made on his desk the last time he had been in detention: "By NATE WRIGHT, SCHOOL RECORD HOLDER".


  • Nate Wright - The main protagonist; an egocentric, natives, and sarcastic sixth-grader.
  • Teddy Ortiz - Nate's #1A best friend, who is a stoker and known to annoy Nate.
  • Francis Pope - Nate's #1 best friend, who is known for his high intelligence.
  • Marty Wright "Dad" - Nate's somewhat clueless father, who plays golf and is known to make horrible food.
  • Ellen Wright - Nate's older sister, who is the complete opposite of Nate. She is highly favored by Ms. Godfrey, as she was once her student.
  • Mrs. Clara Godfrey - Nate's social studies teacher, who he dislikes (which is shown by his twenty nicknames). In the book, she gives Nate two detentions: for his list of nicknames for her and throwing a lemon square at her posterior and his dad's pie at Randy (though the latter was in a flashback and was actually by a kid named Randy Betancourt).
  • Gina Hemphill-Toms - Nate's nemesis and Mrs. Godfrey's favorite student in the class.
  • Jenny Jenkins - Nate's love interest, whom he met in first grade. However, Jenny does not return Nate's feelings and instead goes out with Artur for "four months, six days, and three-and-a-half-hours", according to Nate.
  • Artur Pashkov - Jenny's boyfriend and Nate's frenemy; a Belarusian who speaks some broken English and unintentionally annoys Nate with his superiority and great luck. Artur is unaware of Nate's feelings toward him and considers him a friend. The two's "rivalry" began when Artur beat him in chess and knocked him down to the second-best chess player in the chess club.
  • Principal Wesley Nichols - Nate's school principal, who acts nice to him and rude. In the book, he gives Nate detention for wasting lunch servings (green beans) by spitting them out and making Nichols slip on them.
  • Coach John - A substitute gym teacher at Nate's school who loves to show off his injuries and is described by Nate as a "sergeant without a uniform". In the book, he gives Nate detention for wearing his own gym shorts during class (as he thought Nate was trying to ridicule him), when Nate actually just needed them, as he accidentally poured water on his own, while trying to wash green beans off his mouth.
  • Ms. Clarke - Nate's English teacher, who gave him detention for shouting at Gina for ruining his love poem to Jenny.
  • Mr. Staples - Nate's maths teacher, who gave him detention for not finishing and ripping his math test (though this was because Nate did not realize there was a back side of the test and did not have time to finish). He is known to tell corny knock-knock jokes.
  • Mr. Galvin - Nate's science teacher, known to for his boring personality and lack of laughter, who gave him detention for laughing at the ink of Nate's confiscated cartooning pen (as Nate tried to make him laugh at his "Doctor Cesspool" comic strip, and his other previous failed attempts) getting all over his shirt.
  • Ken Rosa - Nate's art teacher, who gave Nate detention for destroying the knob off the spotlight case (where students' pictures is selected to be in there), after his failed attempt to outshine Artur by putting his picture in there.
  • Ms. Shipulski - Principal Nichols's secretary.
  • Ms. Czerwicki - The detention monitor.
  • Randy Betancourt - A rival of Nate's who tried to steal food from a bake sale in a flashback.
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