Big Nate In A Class By Himself is the first book of the Big Nate novel series. It was written and illustrated by Lincoln Pierce. It is the first Big Nate novel featuring the life of Nate Wright, as well as crossword puzzles, secret codes, and advice to the reader. In another region, the book was also known as "Big Nate: The Boy with the Biggest Head in the World."
When Nate reads a fortune cookie, it says "You will surpass all others.", convincing Nate that he knows at least he will be better than everyone at something that day. Nate, however, needs to figure out what it will be and when it will happen.
- Mrs. Godfrey (main antagonist)
- Gina Hemphill-Toms (secondary antagonist)
- Ms. Clarke
- Mr. Rosa
- Principal Nichols
- Coach John
- Mr. Staples
- Mr. Galvin
- Martin Earl Wright
- Ellen Wright
- Artur Pashkov
- Jenny Jenkins
- Mrs. Czerwicki
- Mrs. Shipulski
- Chester Budrick
- Randy Betancourt (flashback)
The book begins with Nate Wright's social studies teacher, Mrs. Godfrey, asking the class what year the 14th amendment was ratified. Several other people raise their hands, except for Nate. Mrs. Godfrey then calls on Nate, which she always does when he doesn't know the answer. Nate is afraid to answer this, with other students staring at him. He just asks "What was the question again?” that results in Mrs. Godfrey marching straight to Nate. Nate embraces this, but fortunately, the school bell rings. Nate is relieved by this, when he realizes that it doesn't really sound like the bell, then wakes up to discover his alarm clock is going off.
Nate is relaxed by this and decides to sleep some more. Unfortunately, Marty Wright (Nate calls him Dad) yanks the blanket off of him telling him to go to school. Nate describes info about his father's parental skills, but doesn't matter. He was known to be destined for greatness. He tells the reader lots of information to achieve greatness and what not, and ranks some of his school days entitled. He forgot if he had a test today or not, so he decides to peek on Francis, his best friend on next door, which is seen reading his social studies textbook. Nate panics due to his textbook left on his locker and Mrs. Godfrey warning him about summer school if he fails another test. Nate does find his notes, but they were scribbles and a secret code hidden instead. When Marty gives him oatmeal, Nate imagines his vision of going to summer school. Washing teachers' cars, scrubbing toilets, etc. is what they do to students who attend there during summer. In the present, Ellen Wright, Nate's 15 year old sister walks in and eats her oatmeal. Nate lists annoying things about Ellen, but is quickly interrupted by his father. Marty asks the kids about school, Ellen chats indistinctly, and Nate tells him nothing has happened. This made Marty suspicious (giving Nate the "Look") and Nate escapes fast. He trips over Spitsy, Mr. Eustis's dog. Facts about Spitsy are listed, as well as opinions. Nate tries to think some plans to not take the "test", but came up with flaws of failing the steps. Nate decides next he should skip school, but that wouldn't work either due to the Machine. His third suggestion is an excuse note. He succeeds in writing the note, but wouldn't forge Marty's signature because he didn't want to go to jail for it. Francis appears behind him, which scares Nate. He hides away his note from Francis but decides to confess that he wants to get out of the test they have today. Francis is confused, and tells Nate there is no test. Nate is overjoyed but gets annoyed by Francis's complementing of the test, which gets him hit by a binder.
The school bell rings, and Nate walks to P.S. 38. But he got hit back by Francis. Teddy, Nate's other best friend, appears and makes a joke out of him. On his first day, Teddy barely spoke a word, but in science he is shown being hilarious which Nate is pleased. But the squid they're holding lands in Mary Ellen Popowski's feet. The two laugh harder until Mr. Galvin shows up. Nate has to apologize to Mary Ellen, but keeps whining about the squid. Nate made an insult which results another apology. Later, Nate and Teddy got detention for two whole weeks. In the present, Francis, Nate, and Teddy decide to race to the school. Nate is in the lead, only to slam into Principal Nichols. He gets up, only to apologize to Nate. Nate and his friends went in to the school. Nate needs to put away his lunch in his locker that's messy, but he forgot it when he ran away from home this morning. Teddy covers for him by giving him a fortune cookie. Usually, Nate becomes bored of them, but gets surprised by the saying on the cookie which is: "Today you will surpass all others."
Nate goes to homeroom with the other students. Nate decides he needs improvements in his life. He eats the fortune cookie, but Gina (his arch-enemy) tattles on him. Mrs. Godfrey goes to Nate's desk and he tries to eat the cookie. Mrs. Godfrey sees Nate's mouth but it has nothing on. Gina is outsmarted by this. The announcements come on, and Nate does a mock reaction in his thoughts. He later lists the rest of his periods while describing their summaries. Nate later reveals he gives all the teachers nicknames. For Mrs. Godfrey, he calls her Venus de Silo, Godzilla, Queen Kong, etc. But as Nate was seeing the list, Mrs. Godfrey notices it and gives Nate a detention. By not meaning what “insolence” meant, she gives Nate a dictionary. He looks up to see it into impolite or rebellious behavior or speech.
The trio walks out the room, where they are greeted by Artur Pashkov and Jenny Jenkins. Nate is disgusted by the fact that Jenny likes him, he gets all the girls, his placing on chess competition, he was replaced as the lead singer of his band, etc. Nate decides to do some poetry to surpass Jenny as Mrs. Clarke goes over the types of poems students can write. Nate settles on writing a love poem to Jenny, but Gina notices it and tells the whole classroom upon it. Jenny is repulsed, people are staring at Nate, Mrs. Clarke tries to calm him down, and Nate yells a disturbing comment at Gina. This gets him a second detention slip. Nate, Teddy, and Francis head off to see normal tings at their school. Then they see drawings on a display case. Artur’s shoe drawing is the most popular in two months at a row. They congratulate Artur, who walks by them and head to art class. Nate tries to get Mr. Rosa to put his drawing in the display case, but doesn’t have time (saying he hasn’t have that for frivolous requests). Nate tries to ask Francis what he meant, but Francis tells him to shut up and is supposed to make puppet heads. Nate whispers to Francis to create a distraction, which he does, resulting the class going wild and Mr. Rosa calms them down. Nate gets his green light, but when trying to open the display case, the doorknob breaks off. Mr. Rosa hears this, and gives Nate his third detention. Later the three friends go to the cafetoruim, only to see Chester Budrick their table. The trio later sits next to Chad Applewhite, who is seen reading the book of records. Nate settles on a eating competition, but it didn’t go out as planned. They were only piles of green beans, but he decides to eat them anyway. But Principal Nichols catches him doing that, and demands Nate to respond. He tries, but the green beans are blocking his mouth. So there is one disgusting thing left to do: Spit out the beans. Nichols became mad and tells the entire sixth grade to clean up the mess Nate made. But as soon as he was leaving, he slipped into a puddle and fell. He says his last words to the kids: “Come with me at the office. NOW.” Nate and the entire sixth grade are sitting in Nichol’s office. Nate lists the details during discussion. The principal hands the sixth graders a detention slip. (This counts as Nate’s fourth detention of the day).
Nate is bored about being late to gym class with the others being trailed behind. Then they see one brutal saint: Coach John. He is mean to kids, and he thinks P.S. 38 needs military supervising which might explain the other statement. Coach John notices Nate, and forces him to dress out. But when Nate cleaned his face, water had filled in his pants. He wants to find more pants, but Coach John tells him to hurry up. Luckily, Nate found some shorts and puts some towels on it. He gets out of the locker room, but is confused by the other students laughing at him. Coach John is outraged and points out to Nate’s shorts. It was revealed that Nate was wearing Coach John’s shorts. He tries to explain it, but still mad, Coach John makes Nate run wind sprints. He becomes tired and then wasted (a spoof of Grand Theft Auto when the player dies). Later, Nate is furious about that Coach John giving him another detention slip and making fun of him (“kid with weird hair”).
He, Francis, and Teddy head off to math. But when they see Mr. Staples, he is smiling creepily to the kids. He tells them to sit down, and Nate knew this was coming: A pop quiz. Nate looks at the quiz and finds it easy to declare his fortune. And when he finishes it, the other people are still going through it. He smiles and Mr. Staples announces the quiz was over and tells everyone to check front and back. But when Nate heard this, he sees there are a total of 20 questions on the quiz (he only answered 12 of them). As students hand back quizzes, Nate becomes crazy and answers questions randomly. Mr. Staples comes to him and steals the quiz, but Nate won’t go out without a fight. He and Mr. Staples fight over it, which tears it in half. The teacher is outraged and gives Nate another detention. The three friends go to the last class of the day: Science. When Nate notices Mr. Galvin, he decides to make him laugh. It was impossible to do it, and when Nate laughs at his inked shirt, he gives his other detention.
Nate later goes to the detention room, but before he does, he tells the reader his last detention was at the day of the chess club. It all started when the sale went well, but a kid named Randy Betancourt does not pay for the lemon square he grabs. Nate forces him to do it, but Randy tosses it Mrs. Godfrey’s bottom. She demands who did it, and Randy blames Nate for it. Mrs. Godfrey’s writes him up while Randy smirks. Nate gets revenge by throwing his pie at Randy’s face, but sadly, Nate got five detentions that day. In the present, Mrs. Czerwicki tells Nate to see it detention slip, which is crumpled into origami. Mrs. Czerwicki suspects the slips and tells Nate he has broken a record. The thing is, students had got four detentions throughout the years, a few got five, one even got six, but no one has gotten seven of them until now. She says Nate has surpassed all others according to the fortune, which he celebrates. He goes to his desk and disrespects the rule of not writing in desks. The book ends as Nate relaxes thinking, “I can hardly believe my good fortune”.
- Nate Wright
- Francis Pope
- Teddy Ortiz
- Mrs. Godfrey
- Gina Hemphill-Toms
- Chester Budrick
- Ellen Wright
- Marty Wright
- Artur Pashkov
- Jenny Jenkins
- Ms. Clarke
- Ken Rosa
- Mr. Galvin
- Wesley Nichols
- Randy Betancourt (appears in flashbacks)
- Mrs. Czerwicki
In the United Kingdom, the book is called "Big Nate: The Boy with the Biggest Head in the World."
There is a very rare page misprint (see right).