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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The Big Nate Book Tour: Pennsylvania

We all know that Big Nate loves cheez doodles, a truly addicting snack food.  Today at Wayne Elementary School in Wayne, Pennsylvania, the librarian, Sue Dahlstrom, correctly assumed that Nate's affection for cheez doodles mirrored my own.  So she presented me with a bag of Herr's Cheese Curls (the Pennsylvania equivalent of cheez doodles) during my visit today.  Thanks, Sue.  I'm already halfway through the bag.

If you've read Big Nate Strikes Again, you know that the book begins with a "Guess That Baby" picture contest.  Wayne Elementary had its own version going on; several of the kids brought in baby pictures, and a lot of them provided comics to go along with the pictures.  Sue awarded Big Nate t-shirts to the kids who'd done the best job, and later in the day we all posed for pictures in front of the baby picture display.  I met with three groups of third graders, and during the question-and-answer period I mentioned that book 3, Big Nate On A Roll, will be coming out in May.  It turned out that quite a few kids have birthdays in May and were hoping the book might go on sale on their birthday.  Unfortunately, I couldn't tell them for sure what the exact on-sale date will be.  That's yet to be decided.  Anyway, the kids at Wayne were wonderful, and I particularly enjoyed getting to know Wells, Barbara, Michael, Sheldon, and Jeremiah (one of the t-shirt winners). Thanks, everyone!

Earlier in the day, I was at Radnor Elementary, where two groups of fifth graders were fighting off a post-Halloween sugar crash.  They perked up, though, when we started drawing comics together.  Dylan and Jane were my helpers, and both were very good sports as I held light bulbs and "Z" signs over their heads.  There were some excellent questions asked by both these groups, and I happen to know that their art teacher is going to be starting a comics unit very soon.  They'll be able to put all their cartooning skills to good use.  Great job, Radnor.  And enjoy your book fair next week.  A little bird told me that there will be quite a few autographed Big Nate books available for you to purchase.

A huge thank you goes to Heather and Janet from Children's Book World for arranging these school visits.  And as an added bonus, I was able to go on an impromptu tour of Haverford College thanks to a Children's Book World employee named Olivia, who's a student at Haverford.  My son is applying to Haverford for college, but hasn't visited the campus yet.  So I did a little investigative work on his behalf.  I'm pretty sure he'd like it.

More tomorrow!

Mon, 11/01/2010

The Big Nate Book Tour: Georgia

I'm doubling up on today's entry, filling you in on the events of yesterday and today.  It's Saturday afternoon, and I've just returned from a book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Alpharetta, Georgia.  But more on that shortly.

First things first:  yesterday I got up at 4:30 am in Houston, and by 10:00 am I was in Atlanta to visit the Oak Grove Elementary School.  It was the day of the school's Fall Festival and it was clear that the kids were getting pretty excited about Halloween approaching.  It was easy to tell that this was a school with a history of supporting authors and promoting reading; the library was filled with drawings other authors have made during past visits.  So I settled right in and spoke to three groups of third and fourth graders.  As usual, it didn't take much on my part to convince the kids that they already know a lot about cartooning, and I had plenty of helpers. Big thank yous to Roni and Vivian, both of whom helped me with my demonstration; and I also tip my cap to comics experts like Chase, Charles, Niko, Clark, and ESPECIALLY Max, who was wearing a cookie monster t-shirt which just so happened to be a perfect illustration of the sorts of eyes I was drawing on the whiteboard at the time.  Thanks to everyone at Oak Grove, and I hope by the time you read this you've had a wonderful Halloween.

Then last night it was on to the Little Shop of Stories bookstore in Decatur.  I'd like to thank Justin, a true comics scholar, for setting up my visit, and I'd like to say a special hello to Justin's daughter Nora, a budding cartoonist who also happened to be rocking a very stylish Big Nate t-shirt.  Thanks also to the parents who brought their kids out to the store on a Friday night.  I had a wonderful time.  Little Shop of Stories is just the kind of neighborhood bookstore that we'd all love to live around the corner from.

Today's bookstore was slightly bigger than Little Shop, and I'm happy to say that my signing at the Barnes & Noble was very well attended.  It's an absolutely beautiful day here in Atlanta, and I wasn't exactly sure how many folks would want to be indoors at 2:00 in the afternoon; but plenty of kids were there with their parents, and they all went home with signed books.  And some of them, like Bryce and Connor, also took home big easel-sized drawings of Nate, Coach John, and Spitsy. 

No blog entry on Sunday because it's a travel day.  I'll write more on Monday night after my first day in Pennsylvania.  Only four more days on the road, and then I'll be home!

Sat, 10/30/2010

The Big Nate Book Tour: Day Two

I knew there was something unusual going on when I arrived at Twin Creeks Middle School in Spring, Texas.  Many of the kids were decked out in heavy-rimmed glasses, pocket protectors, and what we used to refer to in my day as "flood pants."  Turns out it was "Nerd Day," and many of the kids were dressed accordingly.  But there was nothing nerdish -- or should that be nerdy? -- about their cartooning skills. I had two great cartooning sessions with sixth graders, and, as usual, they showed me that they are very familiar with the language of comics.  Here are some of the kids whose names I wrote on my whiteboard so I'd remember them later:  Elyssa, Alexis, Jovonte, Maison (more on him in a moment), Santino, Kassidi, Caitlin, and Allyson. 

Earlier in the day I was at Collins Intermediate School in The Woodlands.  It was a tough task for Sharon, the librarian, to decide which groups would meet with me, since I was at the school for  only a short time.  But eventually she invited a couple of 5th grade art classes to come to the library for some talk about Big Nate and cartooning.  (Some sixth graders snuck into the first session, which was fine with me!)  I had a great time meeting kids like Emily, Camryn, and Christian (who bought THREE Big Nate books).  Thanks very much, Collins School, and thanks also to the Barnes & Noble The Woodlands for making these school visits happen.

And speaking of Barnes & Noble...I was there this evening to sign books and chat with anyone who happened by.  A small but enthusiastic group of Big Nate readers came to visit, including the aforementioned Maison, one of the students from Twin Creeks Middle School.  I almost didn't recognize Maison without his Nerd Day outfit on.  I also want to say a special hello to 9 year-old Gracie, who sat and played the Scribble Game with me for half an hour.  For her good cheer -- and her drawing skills -- she got herself a Big Nate t-shirt.

Tomorrow I'll be in Atlanta, Georgia.  More to come!

Thu, 10/28/2010

The Big Nate Book Tour: Texas

Two nights ago, I was walking around Denver, shivering in my fleece jacket and wool hat.  Today in Houston, it was so hot and humid that when I walked outside at 7:00 this morning, my glasses fogged up.  I'm expecting a hurricane when I reach Atlanta.

It was a real pleasure to visit the Barbara Bush Elementary School in Houston today.  First and foremost, I'd like to thank Melinda Zeagler, the school librarian, who is a force of nature and made the day a complete delight.  Thanks also to Cathy Berner from Blue Willow Bookshop, a real pro when it comes to setting up author visits. 

I'm often in the library when I visit schools, but today I had my very own classroom -- air conditioned, of course! -- with an enormous whiteboard that covered almost an entire wall.  And there was a SECOND whiteboard decorated with messages and drawings by some of the students.  I get a real kick out of seeing kids' drawings of Big Nate.  It reminds me of the way I used to copy the drawings I saw in the newspaper comics section.  I was pretty good at Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Fred Basset, and Andy Capp.  I wasn't so good at Blondie or Dagwood.  Anyway, I spoke to six groups of 5th, 4th, and 3rd graders, as well as making a quick stop in a classroom of 2nd graders, where I met a boy named Jonathan who's a real Big Nate fan.  I think Jonathan enjoyed hearing that Big Nate was named after ANOTHER Jonathan -- my older brother, who I've called Nate since we were boys.

During the presentations, many students distinguished themselves, either because they helped me demonstrate some cartooning symbols at the start of the session, or because they had some great suggestions while we were working on our "guy getting hit on the head with a baseball" drawing.  I always find myself wishing there were a way to mention ALL the kids, but here are the names of a few standouts:  Bijan, Calvin, David, Tawhida, Kevin (who had BOTH Big Nate books), Jose, Hope, Bria, Karen, and Donaldene.  Great job, all of you!

At Blue Willow Bookshop later in the afternoon, there was a wonderful turnout -- kids, parents, teachers, and librarians.  I spoke a little bit about what first got me interested in comics, drew some pictures (of Nate, Coach John, Gina, etc.), answered a few questions, and signed a lot of books.  I was particularly happy to meet a young man named Chase, who is already quite an author.  He had three notebooks full of stories and dialogue.  Keep it up, Chase!  And thanks to kids from Barbara Bush Elementary, like Lauren and Julia, who came to listen to me for the SECOND time today.  

More from Houston tomorrow! 

Wed, 10/27/2010

The Big Nate Book Tour: Colorado Day Two

When I'm talking to kids about cartooning, I always tell them that things happen in comics that never happen in real life.  Along those same lines, things happen on book tours that never happen in real life.  For example, I have someone to drive me around at all times.  (Thank goodness; I can't imagine trying to navigate my way from school to school in cities I've never visited before.  And don't bother telling me how great GPS is, because I've never used a GPS system in my life.)  Also on tour I find myself using shampoos I wouldn't normally use -- I think at the last hotel the shampoo was called "rosemary mint" -- and drinking a lot of bottled water, because school librarians always offer you bottled water. 

But enough about that.  Today I was in Denver, and I visited two charming schools filled with kids who knew a lot about cartooning and Big Nate.  My first stop was Westview Elementary School in Northglenn.  I felt immediately at home because the librarian, Nadine, looked like the long-lost twin sister of a good friend of mine from Maine.  And I must also pay a compliment to Nadine's mom, who over the years has created several beautiful quilts to decorate the library.  It was a very inviting atmosphere.  I spoke to four groups of 4th and 5th graders, and this may very well have been the best-behaved school I've visited yet.  Among the kids who took part in the fun were Bailey, Taylor, Evan, Brianna, Spencer, Sydnei, Sebastian, Deion, and (here's a great comic strip name for you) Calvin.  Thanks for all the help and enthusiasm, Westview!

After that I traveled, eventually, to Kemp Elementary School in Commerce City.  (I say "eventually" because we got lost finding the school.)  What sets Kemp apart from the other schools I've visited thus far?  There's a school dress code.  The kids were all wearing either white or purple polo shirts and, I must say, they looked quite sharp.  It reminded me of my teaching days at Xavier High School in New York City many years ago.  The kids really enjoyed the presentation, which might have had something to do with the fact that it was being videotaped.  One thing they did at Kemp that I really liked:  they raffled off some Big Nate books at the end of each presentation, so several kids who otherwise might not have bought a book had the chance to take home their very own copy of Big Nate Strikes Again.  Some of the winners were Edmundo, Evelynne, and Guadalupe.  Great job, Kemp!  Thanks for having me at your school.

More tomorrow from Houston, Texas!

Tue, 10/26/2010

The Big Nate Book Tour: Colorado

Greetings from Colorado!  The last time I traveled to this state, I was on crutches and I was visiting Colorado Springs.  This time I'm NOT on crutches -- so far -- and I'm in Denver.  It's a very nice city, except for the fact that everyone's in a lousy mood because the Broncos lost to the Raiders on Sunday, 59-14.  But you probably aren't reading this blog to hear about football.

Today, for the first time, I gave a cartooning demonstration under a grand chandelier.  I was at Stanley British Primary School, which is located on the grounds of a former army base here in Denver.  Apparently, the room where I gave my presentation used to be the officers' club, and when the school moved in, they decided to leave the chandelier right where it was.  I must admit, it made me feel very classy.

I met with three groups of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders and had a wonderful time.  Some of the major contributors were Jack, Camille, John (who I understand once sang on the Ellen deGeneres show), Luke, and Aani.  But I'm saving my biggest shout-out for Waladi, who showed me a thick packet of his own comics.  VERY impressive!  Waladi, you are a talented young man.  Keep drawing!

My next stop was Hill Campus of Arts and Sciences, where I met with one group of sixth graders and another group of seventh graders (plus one eighth grader who successfully lobbied to be let out of class to join us in the library.  We played the scribble game at the beginning of our sessions, and I saw some of the most inventive cartoons I've seen during my entire tour.  There is a LOT of cartooning talent at Hill.  I think the name of the school should be changed to Hill Campus of Arts, Sciences, & Cartooning.  There were too many great kids to name, but here are some:  Eric, Jovoni, Isela, Sergio, Dillon, and Selena.  Thanks to the 6th grade for their thank-you card, and many thanks to all the students for the beautiful t-shirt.  It spells out H-I-L-L in sign language on the front.   (There is a significant population of hearing-impaired students at Hill.)

Thanks to everyone at Bookies for making me feel so welcome, especially Shelley and Susie.

Tomorrow I'll be visiting two more schools and then it's on to Houston, where I'm hoping to find a barber shop.  All for now!

Mon, 10/25/2010

The Big Nate Book Tour: Portland

Just a short entry today, since it's the weekend -- but that doesn't mean I haven't been keeping busy.  I flew from Seattle to Portland, Oregon this morning (on a VERY small airplane) and did a chalk talk and book signing at the Border's bookstore in Tigard.  I wasn't sure how many folks would take the time to come listen to me at 2:00 on a Saturday afternoon, but it was a very nice turnout.  I arrived about a half hour early, and some kids were already there waiting to get their books signed.  It was nice to have the chance to chat with kids like Spencer and Riley and their parents prior to my talk.  And at the very end of my visit, Ginger from Border's remembered that we had a single Big Nate t-shirt to give away, and it went to a boy named -- you guessed it -- Nate.

I'll be leaving for Denver tomorrow, so I'll sign off now and see a few sights around Portland while it's still light outside.  I've been told there's an excellent bookstore called Powell's nearby.  I won't blog on Sunday, since it's a travel day with no events planned.  Next entry will be posted on Tuesday morning.  So long for now!

Sat, 10/23/2010

Big Nate Book Tour: Seattle Day 2

I'm sitting in the "business center" (which is just a fancy way of saying "computer room") at the Hotel Monaco in Seattle right now.  And on the desk in front of me is a pile of beautiful thank-you cards from the kids at Odyssey Elementary School in Everett, where I spent the day.  At this point I've visited many schools, and Odyssey ranks right at the top!  It's a very new building, constructed only 5 or 6 years ago, and the facilities are amazing.  Not even Big Nate himself would mind going to school if it meant spending the day in such a nice building. 

Next week Odyssey will be having their book fair, and the librarian Tammy Toyama has boxes and boxes of Big Nate books ready for the kids to buy.  If their enthusiasm today during my presentations is any indication, they'll definitely enjoy reading about Nate's adventures at P.S. 38 (a school not QUITE as nice as their own)!  I had great volunteer helpers all day long like Eric and Lili, and the teachers made me feel very welcome.  THANK you, Odyssey!

There's no room to mention each and every kid by name, but here are a few thank you cards that stood out:

Corzette made a fabulous drawing of a character named Jim Big Nose.

Vanessa drew a stick figure of me doing my "light bulb" demonstration...and it really looked like me!  (Vanessa also did a couple very nice drawings of pigs.)

Parker created a comic strip called "Crazy Birds."

Riley did an awesome comic featuring someone throwing strawberries.

I loved ALL the cards!

Finally, thanks very much to Christy Boyett from Barnes & Noble.  She spent all day with me at the school, then hosted me at the store tonight when I made an appearance there to talk about how and why Big Nate branched out from comic strips to chapter books!

Tomorrow I leave for Portland, Oregon.  Details to come!

Fri, 10/22/2010

The Big Nate Book Tour: Seattle

It must be true what they say about the weather in Seattle:  very changeable!  During my drive to Echo Lake Elementary School this morning, I traveled from brilliant sunshine into pea soup fog.  But I was still able to enjoy some of the beautiful scenery en route.

At the school, I learned that many of the students (I spoke to 3rd graders today) were in the process of reading Big Nate:  In A Class By Himself for the first time.  About 75 kids (which I think might have been the entire 3rd grade) filed into the library and got themselves ready to go by playing the scribble game.  Then I talked to them a little bit about cartooning, and some of the methods cartoonists use when combining words and pictures to tell a story.  And, once I learned that one of the students was named Jonathan, I was happy to tell the kids the story of my own older brother Jonathan, and how and why I gave him the nickname Big Nate when we were growing up.  Many thanks to the librarian, Dennis Day, and all the very kind folks for their hospitality while I was at Echo Lake.

Less than ten minutes away was Lake Forest Park Elementary School, where I witnessed firsthand the highly efficient way schools can magically transform spaces from one thing to another -- sort of like the "cafetorium" at P.S. 38!  When I arrived, a couple hundred kids were eating lunch in the room where I'd be giving my presentations only a half hour later; but a very hardworking gentleman named Jim and his crew of student helpers swept, mopped, and dried the floor.   Once I got started, I had a couple helpers of my own:  Anastasia and Fritz.  And a big thank you to Daniel, who gave me a present at the end of the day:  a comic adventure of his own creation called "Wimpy Man," in which Wimpy Man battles a giant chicken and emerges victorious.  (At the end of the story, the giant chicken is a giant fried drumstick!)  Thanks also to Merrilyn Tucker, who kept everything moving along smoothly during my visit.

My trusty sidekick for the day was Rene from Third Place Books.  Thank you, Rene, for all your help!  More to come tomorrow.

Thu, 10/21/2010

Day Three of the Big Nate Book Tour

Today, for the first time ever, I did a cartooning presentation in a tree house!  Not an actual tree house; that's just what the students at the Ravinia School in Highland Park call the library.  The school's in a beautiful old building close to the shores of Lake Michigan, and the library is in the loft/attic space.  There are murals of trees on every wall, so it really DOES feel like you're in a tree house.  The two groups of kids I spoke to there (3rd, 4th and 5th graders) were the largest groups I've met with so far -- between 70 and 80 kids in each session.  And every single one of them has either read Big Nate:  In A Class By Himself or is in the process of doing so.  I bet they'll enjoy Big Nate Strikes Again just as much.  Thanks to Lizzie, who wore a headband with her name on it, for being my helper in the first session.  And of course it's ALWAYS great to meet a student named Nate, as I did today.  I had a fantastic time at Ravinia and hope to be back there soon.

Earlier in the day I was at another school that earns straight A's:  Avoca West in Glenview.  I knew I had some serious Big Nate fans on my hands when Susan Geidner, the librarian, told me she'd taken her sons Bailey and Connor out of school (they go to a different school from Avoca West) so that they could come hear me talk about cartooning.  All the kids at Avoca West were in the process of reading Book 1 and had a lot of great ideas for future books.  One involved Nate getting stranded on a desert island with Mrs. Godfrey, another involved him traveling into outer space.  And there were plenty of suggestions for titles as well.  Peter thought that the final Big Nate book should be called Big Nate's Last Stand.  Not a bad idea, Peter!  It was great meeting all the Avoca West fans like Allison and Je Woo, and I really enjoyed reading the comics Owen had created.  And a huge thanks for the beautiful welcome sign the kids created in the front hallway!

Later in the afternoon I made an appearance at The Book Stall, the great bookstore that sponsored my school visits today.  I gave a short chalk talk and signed books for kids like Max and Walker, who are already getting cranked up for Book 3 in the spring!  Many, many thanks to all the great folks at the Book Stall, especially Robert and Betsy who made the entire day so enjoyable.

And now I'm in  Seattle, a city I've never visited before.  I've got a bit of a lighter day tomorrow, but I'll still have plenty to blog about. That's all for now!

Wed, 10/20/2010