Lincoln Peirce is a cartoonist/writer and the creator of the comic strip Big Nate. It appears in more than two hundred U.S. newspapers and online daily at comics.com.

Lincoln Peirce lives with his wife and two children in Portland, Maine.

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Day 9--Outrageous Oxford

I'm already looking forward to my next visit to Oxford, Mississippi. That's where I was today, and I felt right at home. Maybe Oxford reminds me of Durham, New Hampshire, where I grew up. Both are university towns, not big cities. And it just so happened that today was absolutely beautiful, weather-wise. Folks in Oxford told me that some unusually cool, dry air came through after Tropical Storm Lee moved past the area. When I visit a place for the first time, I usually have an immediate reaction: either "I could live here" or "I couldn't live here." Well, I could live in Oxford, Mississippi. Yes, I could.
 
I only visited one school today, and all I can say is: thank goodness for googlemaps. Otherwise, we (me and Al, the very nice gentleman who's driving me around) never would have found it. It's called Regents School of Oxford, and it's way out in the country. Kudzu was everywhere. I visited with third, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders (with a few 9th graders sitting in for fun!), and had a great time. Thanks to all the teachers, and especially the kids -- like Peter, Paschal, Amanda, Claire, J.C., and Bennett. You guys have a really cool school!
 
Then we drove into town to Square Books Jr. The original bookstore is called Square Books; Square Books Jr. is a children's bookstore, and it's fantastic. Another author/illustrator was there doing a signing when I arrived: the phenomenally talented Loren Long. His new book, featuring Otis the tractor, is "Otis and the Tornado."   Also on hand were my new friends, Lyn and Jill from Square Books Jr. After Loren finished his signing, we all went out for lunch at a restaurant called Ajax, where there was a lot of good old-fashioned comfort food on the menu. I wasn't brave enough to try the fried catfish, a local delicacy, but I did thoroughly enjoy my chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, and fried eggplant. And my sweet tea.
 
Then it was back to the bookstore, where I signed a bunch of books, said hello to some kids from Regents School who dropped by, and played the scribble game with Lyn's daughter, Cecile. 
Fri, 09/09/2011

Day 8--Magical Memphis

I visited two fantastic schools in and around Memphis, Tennessee today. The first, Riverwood Elementary in Cordova, is an almost brand-new school (this is its second year in existence), and I did my presentation in one of the coolest science classrooms I've ever seen. It had one of those hi-tech "smart boards," but I've tried those, and I think they're hard to draw on. There's a slight delay between when you draw a line, and when it shows up on the smart board. So instead I opted for a plain, old-fashioned white board, and had a great time talking to the kids about cartooning and Big Nate. I think more kids at Riverwood had already read some or all of the BN books than at any other school I've visited. Thanks to the kids who kept me on my toes, like Lauren, Andrew, Charlie, Massai, Erin, and Joey. (Don't worry, Joey: I really WASN'T going to throw anything at you!)
 
Then it was on to Campus Elementary School, which is about to celebrate its centennial. It got its name because it's located right on the campus of the University of Memphis. The kids, 3rd and 4th graders, had a lot of cartooning knowledge and enthusiasm. My three assistants, all of whom were very good sports, were Brianna, Christopher, and Lily. Other kids who contributed were Taj, Patrick, Ivy, Andrew, and Addie. And of course I must mention my friend, Truth.
 
A lot of kids from both schools were on hand later at the Barnes & Noble at Wolf's Chase. I think there were about 50 or 55 people there, and after I spoke for a few minutes, there were some great questions during the Q & A session. My two favorites were: "Do you think Nate is anything like Garfield the cat?" (Answer: Nate's not lazy like Garfield, but he and Garfield definitely share a few personality traits!); and "Do you and Nate share any of the same characteristics?" (Answer: Absolutely. Nate and I both dislike cats, figure skating, and egg salad. And we're both aspiring cartoonists.)
 
I'd like to thank the wonderful Torie Sanford-Finch of Barnes & Noble for making the day run so smoothly. And Nancy, the librarian at Campus Elementary, kept things humming along. I had a great time in Memphis and hope to visit again soon!
 
Tomorrow: Oxford, Mississippi!
Thu, 09/08/2011

Day 7--Nice Nashville

It's 11:17 pm, and I just arrived at my hotel here in Memphis, Tennessee.  I was very happy to discover, once I turned on the TV to ESPN, that my Red Sox beat Toronto tonight, 14-0.  This after losing to the very same team yesterday, 1-0.  Baseball is a funny game.
 
I visited two schools and a bookstore today in Nashville.  The first was Currey Ingram Academy in Brentwood, an absolutely beautiful school.  I was met there by Dolly Kelly, who welcomed me and led me to the cafeteria where I did my presentations (for 5th and 6th graders).  If the "cafetorium" at P.S. 38 were this nice, Nate might actually look forward to lunchtime.  The 5th graders at Currey Ingram were a somewhat subdued group at first -- maybe because it was the first period of their first day back at school after a long weekend? -- but things livened up in a hurry once we all started drawing together.  And the cartooning knowledge of these kids was the second most impressive thing about them.  (The MOST impressive thing was their snappy school uniforms!)  I want to single out a few kids who contributed a lot to my two sessions:  Tee (or "T"), Sarah, Ford, John, and Christian, creator of the fabulous Timmy Show.
 
Then is was on to Crieve Hill Elementary School.  The school librarian, Deanna Bostic, said I was the first author to visit there during all her years at the school.  I met with three different groups of 3rd and 4th graders, and I had a blast with all of them.  We had a lot to cover in a short time (I had only about 35 minutes with each class), but thanks to the kids' cooperation and attention, we squeezed a lot of fun into the time we had.  And in the final group of the day, we were able to add a few minutes of bonus time for Q & A.  Thanks to all the kids who participated, especially Lara, Christopher, Anna, Olivia, Scott, Eli, Achok, Lauren, Reggie, and Handley.
 
After killing some time at a nearby mall (where a vending machine stole $1.50 from me), it was on to the Barnes & Noble in Cool Springs.  Considering the nasty weather outside (it poured all day), it was a very nice turnout.  I talked about my love of the comic strip "Peanuts," the neighborhood in New Hampshire where I grew up, and the website poptropica.com, where so many kids have discovered Big Nate.  And I met some very nice kids, like Zane, Tarton, Thomas, and Elia (whose name is only one letter away from my own son's).  
 
A huge thank you to Robbie Bryan from Barnes & Noble, who coordinated my visits with the schools and kept things running seamlessly all day.  Thanks, Robbie, and have a great time in Hawaii!
Wed, 09/07/2011

Day 6--Hello from Nashville

Hello from Nashville! After last week's travels through Texas, Kansas, and Missouri, it was great to spend a couple of days back home in Maine. I hung new shades and curtains in my daughter's bedroom windows, and got caught up with the comic strip. (I'd fallen behind a bit last week.) But now back to the road. I flew into Nashville at about suppertime on Monday, and it was absolutely pouring. Had the weather been better, I might have taken a walk downtown to visit the world-famous Ernest Tubb Record Shop, but I'll save that for my next visit to Tennessee.
 
Instead, I rode the exercise bike in the hotel's fitness center for a while, then ate dinner. And now I'm back in my room, writing my blog and watching US Open tennis. Whenever I watch any sort of sporting event in a hotel room, it reminds me of a trip my family took from New Hampshire to the midwest when I was a kid. It was 1972, and the Summer Olympics were being held. We'd drive all day, seeing a few sights along the way, then check into a hotel. (I'd never stayed in a hotel until that trip.) We'd turn on the TV to watch the track & field, gymnastics, etc. One of the sensations of those Olympic Games was a Soviet gymnast named Olga Korbut, who amazed everyone by doing a back flip on the uneven parallel bars. Nowadays gymnasts do that in their sleep, but back then it was ground-breaking. That's what I remember most about that trip: watching the Olympics in the hotel rooms, and swimming in the hotel pools. Obviously inspired by Olga Korbut, I learned how to do a backflip off of a diving board at a hotel pool somewhere in Ohio.
 
That's all until tomorrow. Hope everyone enjoyed their holiday weekend!
Tue, 09/06/2011

Day 5--Magnificent Missouri

It's been a long day, but it ended on a high note with my visit to Puddn'head Books in Webster Groves, Missouri. More on that in just a second.
 
I woke up at 4:00 am and flew from Kansas City to St. Louis, a city I'd never seen until today. I STILL haven't seen much of it, since most of my day was devoted to school visits and such…but what I did see looked very nice. The famous St. Louis Arch is pretty awe-inspiring. My first stop was Captain Elementary School (no, it was not named for a superhero called Captain Elementary), where I was welcomed by Tom Bober, the school librarian, and Holland from Puddn'head Books. I used a document camera for my first two presentations in the cafeteria (for the 4th & 5th graders), then moved upstairs to talk to the 3rd graders. My helpers today were Gabe, Jean, and Min. And plenty of other kids contributed to our cartooning discussion, among them Ella, Miles (whose name I thought was Malcolm at first; my hearing is really going downhill), Jaylin, Hutton…and ANOTHER Ella.
 
Then it was on to Clark Elementary in Webster Groves. Alison Weatherby, the librarian, allowed her son Alec to leave HIS school across town to sit in on the cartooning fun. Alec is a very serious Big Nate fan. Great to meet you, Alec! And it was great to spend time with (in order) the 3rd, 5th, and 4th graders of Clark. Thank you to my helpers Sarah, Eric the Red, and Ismail. And great job to Chris, Nate, Emilee, and the 2 Ryans.
 
And speaking of the 2 Ryans, one of them came tonight to my appearance at Puddn'head Books just up the street, and he was joined by about 65 other folks who were patient enough to sit through my presentation before getting their books signed. Puddn'head has just moved into a new space, and I'm very honored to be the first author to do an event in their new building. Thanks to Melissa and everyone else for making my visit so much fun.
 
I won't blog for several days because of the long holiday weekend. Talk to you next week from Nashville, Tennessee!
Fri, 09/02/2011

Day 4--There's no place like Kansas

Yesterday, I wrote my blog entry shortly before my appearance at Hastings in Waxahachie, Texas. It was a very nice turnout, and I want to thank all the folks who turned out to get their books signed and listen to me talk a bit about how Big Nate started as a comic strip over twenty years ago. Also, I want to say a special thank you to Kathy, who sat through all my presentations yesterday with patience, generosity, and good humor. Thanks a million, Kathy!
 
Today in Kansas: Prairie Elementary School in the morning, Belinder Elementary in the afternoon. What great schools, and what beautiful libraries! Altogether, I spoke to about 340 kids in grades 3, 4, and 5. And they were great kids, very well behaved. Sometimes when I'm doing a presentation, kids get a little rambunctious, but I never feel like they're being disrespectful; they're just excited to be drawing cartoons. And they drew some fantastic cartoons and asked a lot of great questions. Here are some of the cartooning experts I met today:
 
At Prairie: Maisie, Walter, Thomas, Graham, Divya, and Owen. At Belinder: Andrew, Victoria, Adam, Nick (nice t-shirt, Nick!), and Halle, who convinced me at the end of the day to put her name in the blog.
 
There can't be any great libraries without great librarians. Lori at Prairie and Lyn at Belinder were fantastic. But the biggest tip of the cap today goes to the folks from Rainy Day bookstore: Vivien, Roger, and Susan. The best part of being on tour is meeting great people like these three. And at the end of the day, we had a fun book signing at the bookstore, thanks to all the kids who came by, like Eli, Kiran (a much better cartoonist than I was at her age), and Rainy Day's own 9 year-old intern, my pal Quinn.
 
And finally -- yes, I did eat some great barbecue tonight, and I appreciate all my friends from UU/AMP for treating me right in Kansas City. Next stop: St. Louis!
Thu, 09/01/2011

Day 3--Wonderful Waxahachie

 
I'm not a person with a lot of tech-savvy, so when I tell you that I'm typing this blog entry from my laptop computer at a cafe with free wi-fi access, it's kind of new for me.  The cafe is located in a huge entertainment store called Hastings.  I'll be doing a book signing here in a couple hours and, even though my day isn't over yet, I think it makes sense to write my blog entry now.  Later on I'll be flying to Kansas City and might not have the time.
 
I spent the entire day at Clift Elementary School in Waxahachie, Texas.  Amy Clark, the librarian, was fantastic.  It's her first year in this building.  In fact, it's just about EVERYONE's first year in the building.  The school's only three years old, and for the first two years of its existence, it was a 6th grade school.  So Amy has been working very hard to turn her 6th grade library into an elementary school library -- complete with Big Nate books, of course!
 
I spoke to six different groups today -- 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders -- and there was a lot of cartooning talent at Clift Elementary.  Among the 4th graders, Aden, Emily, Detaveyon, and Brayden gave me a lot of help and provided a lot of enthusiasm.  When the 3rd graders came in (and remember, these are NEW 3rd graders, so they're just now reaching the age when they'll start to read Big Nate books), Bryson, Kristen (already an author herself!), Amelia, and Daniel impressed me with their cartooning skills and knowledge.  And after a lunch break, I met two groups of fifth graders, including Layton, Eric, Sammie, Hannah, Deion, and the unforgettable A.J.  I think we might have a future standup comedian on our hands with A.J.  Keep an eye out for him in the future!
 
That's all for today.  Tomorrow I'll be in Kansas City, where I'm told I'll have the chance to eat the world's best barbecue!
Wed, 08/31/2011

Day 2--Super School Visits

Day One in Dallas!  Actually, I never officially made it inside the Dallas city limits.  I spent the day on the outskirts, in towns like Grapevine, Watauga, and Southlake.
 
My first stop was Holy Trinity Catholic School, where I learned some surprising news:  I am the first author ever to visit the school!  So I felt a responsibility to make my presentations to the fourth, fifth, and sixth graders memorable.  I hope I succeeded.  There was a lot of enthusiasm, and a lot of cartooning talent, in the room.  I got some help from kids like Colin, Miranda, Caleb (clearly a Big Nate expert!) and Vanessa.  And a special thanks to Marianne Lippert, a Texan by way of Wisconsin, for making me feel so welcome.
 
Then it was on to my second stop of the day, Whitley Road Elementary School in Watauga.  I talked to two groups of third graders there.  These are kids who are just now reaching the age when they'll start reading the Big Nate books, so I tried to give them a quick overall description of Nate -- the sort of kid he is, the kinds of trouble he gets into, and who some of the other characters are.  Beyonce was a big help during my presentation, and kids like Colton, Tierney, and Fayth helped me prove my point:  these kids already know MUCH more about telling stories with comics than they think they do!  Thanks to all the teachers and staff for the hospitality.
 
Finally, it was on to the Barnes & Noble in Southlake, a great bookstore that sponsored my school visits today.  A number of devoted Big Nate readers stopped by, including the Ortiz brothers -- no relation to Teddy Ortiz, one of Big Nate's sidekicks!  I signed some books, did some drawings, and gave the kids a few hints about what's to come in book 4.  A huge thank you to the wonderful Rachael Givens of Barnes & Noble, who was with me all day long.  By now, she's probably sick to death of hearing me talk about Big Nate.  More tomorrow!
Tue, 08/30/2011

Awesome Austin (First Stop on the Big Nate Tour)

We're not used to hot weather in Maine, so it was a shock to my system to spend the last three days in Austin, Texas, where the temperatures topped out a 112 degrees today.  (I'm writing this from Dallas, where it was a much cooler 107.)
 
On Friday, I was extremely happy to make a return visit to St. Andrews School in Austin, which (in my humble opinion) has the nicest library in the state of Texas.  Just as she did back in the spring of 2010, April Hudson, the librarian, made me feel most welcome.  And so did the kids, many of whom remembered my cartooning demonstration from my previous trip.  I met with 3rd thru 6th graders (with some happy 2nd graders unexpectedly added to the mix), and had a great time.  As always, sadly, it's impossible to mention all the great kids I met, but here are a couple who seemed to especially enjoy themselves:  Taylor, Sarah, Nia, Cole, Ellie, and Abigail (who was a good sport when I demonstrated some of the cartooning symbols for cursing.  Really, Abigail, such language!)
 
The completely awesome Topher Bradfield of BookPeople was my right hand man for the day, and that continued right through the weekend.  I spent 5 hours on Saturday and another 6 on Sunday at BookPeople, Austin's best bookstore, for "Detention," a cartooning camp brainstormed by Topher.  We had about two dozen very enthusiastic campers for both days, and we had to think on our feet.  Why?  Because a troupe of improv actors that Topher had invited to help us out with some fun games and skits wasn't able to make it.  So we improvised.  Some of the games we played over the course of the 2 days were:  the Scribble Game (of course!), Add-On, "Mad Lib Headlines", Rotate, and Name That 'Toon.  The kids who participated got some very cool art supplies to keep, along with signed copies of Big Nate On A Roll.  Afterwards, I signed some books for the store, said goodbye to Topher and his able assistant Mo, and headed for the airport.  Thanks, BookPeople, and thanks especially to the kids who made it so much fun:  Lily (notice I spelled it right!), Shira, Luke, Jaret, R.J., Kevin, Teddy, Jamie, and all the rest of you.  More tomorrow!
Mon, 08/29/2011

Getting ready for the Big Nate book tour!

Tomorrow it'll be goodbye, Maine, and hello, Texas. I'm leaving for the first stop on my book tour in Austin. I'll do some school visits on Friday, then the Big Nate cartooning camp (which is called "detention"!) with BookPeople on Saturday and Sunday. I'll write all about it in my next entry, on Monday August 29th. And don't forget: while I'm on tour, I'll be blogging every day, so make sure you check me out here at bignatebooks.com Monday through Friday!
 
ANSWERS TO BIG NATE TRIVIA QUESTIONS!
 
  1. A smiley face
  2. 148
  3. Vern and Marge
  4. Jefferson Middle School
  5. His sense of smell
  6. Killer Bees
  7. Mr. Eustis's (the owner of Spitsy!)
  8. Teddy's dad
  9. Ice hockey
  10. Mint chocolate chip ice cream
Thu, 08/25/2011