While this book is not in a novel format, there are books in the Big Nate series. These comics in Big Nate: What’s a Noogie Between Friends by Lincoln Peirce were in newspapers from mid-October 2012 to mid-April 2013.
The comics are about an over confident middle-schooler who does not always understand why the world does not go as planned. A number of modern images are shown (a single dad, multi-cultural students) there are the themes that are timeless: girl troubles, best friends and school. There is no theme to the comics and even will bounce back and forth to a previous storyline. However, each panel is mostly its own story and therefore, a completed story. The point and punch line are gotten all at once.
Sometimes you root for Nate and other times you are with his friends and just “stop listening” to his craziness. Some kids will enjoy the fact they are like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or other books in that line. However, do check to make sure a title is one of the compilations or one of the more full-story or novel format.
Peirce’s illustrations have a modern and classic feel to them. They do remind me of comics I grew up with, but also have modern colors and sensibilities. There are a few clichés and the text is not always politically correct (the exchange student has the “stunted speak” of an immigrant and is naïve). Overall, they are good. You can use them as a learning tool and say, “Should Nate talk like that?” or “Should he have done that?”
I probably will not pick up another in the series, but I know that some readers will enjoy everything Nate has to offer. Your more reluctant reader could get their reading start here. Show a kid reading is fun, then you can move onto more substantial items.