I read the back before devouring this book, and there's a significant picture of Nate and Gina eyeing each other like mortal enemies. If I have to give an honest opinion, I don't know why Nate and Gina hate each other so much. We learned in the first book that Gina is a tattle-tale and may even inspire extra homework in order for the class to be as good as her, and maybe that's it. Maybe after Gina busted Nate for chewing gum one time (for no personal reason and just for fun), Nate pranked her somehow. Whatever. I got pumped after I saw the picture because rivalry square-offs are usually entertaining in children's books. This time, it's Nate against gina and Randy Betancourt book: Nate and Gina have to work on a month-long social studies project together for Mrs. Godfrey (couldn't be worse for Nate) and a competition in Fleeceball, basically baseball with a tennis ball and a broom handle to avoid concussions, against Randy Betancourt's team (with Nate having Gina on his own team). How will Nate survive this long and intimidating month?
This book has a new alphabet code in it, and I think all the books have a different kind. Bottom line, Lincoln Pierce really knows how to get in a lazy kid's head who's just trying to win in life and avoid the boring useless facts classes, and his doodles to tell certain stories is a strategy only Captain Underpants has done before (I think) and Big Nate takes it up a notch. Are the comics funny? Sometimes. Sometimes not. I ended up liking this second instalment much more than the first for quite a few reasons.
First, it in a way glamourizes learning instead of trashing it. Nate and Gina have to work on Ben Franklin, and Nate enjoys himself and in the end, that is the key to getting a good grade (in this case). Gina has just enough screen-time to really give her a personality and I had a bit of sympathy for her, but not so much that I felt sorry for her at the end. The trophy for winning fleece ball is called the SPOFFy. It's gold spray-painted and badly paper-macheed, but it's symbolic as the SPOFFs, which stands for Sports Played Only For Fun. And that's exactly what the Big Nate series is, in reading form. It's certainly a good opportunity for first readers.