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Nurk: The Strange, Surprising Adventures of a (Somewhat) Brave Shrew
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Nurk: The Strange, Surprising Adventures of a (Somewhat) Brave Shrew

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  344 ratings  ·  81 reviews
Nurk is a quiet homebody of a shrew. But when a mysterious plea for help arrives in the mail, he invokes the spirit of his fearless warrior-shrew grandmother, Surka, and sets offto find the sender. It seems the prince of the dragonflies has been kidnapped, and Nurk is his last hope for rescue. Such a mission would be daunting for even the biggest, baddest, and bravest of s ...more
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published June 1st 2008 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2008)
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Nov 15, 2008 Lara's rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Parents and 4th-6th grades
Synopsis : Nurk is a quiet homebody of a shrew. Until the day a mysterious letter arrives. Suddenly he's involved in a harrowing rescue--the likes of which would intimidate event the biggest and bravest of shrews.
Review : There is perhaps a small window of reader that will truly love this tale. But, they will LOVE it! I count myself among that window of reader. The vocabulary requires an advanced reader while the story itself is a little slow and predictible for all but the younger crew. Nurk
Apr 11, 2009 Res rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: sff
The one where Nurk, the shrew, opens a letter that's meant for his grandmother, Surka the warrior hero, and thus is forced to set off on an adventure of his own, guided only by her journal.

This is a charming kids' book. The art is at least a third of the pleasure, and Surka's badly spelled, fearless journal is another third. The tone is great, mildly skeptical without being openly sarcastic. (For instance, once Nurk gets his snail-shell boat out into mid-river, he notes that it's going faster th
Okay, here's a quick-brushstroke summary:

Cute little shrew named Nurk goes on a journey in the footsteps of his adventuring grandmother, sailing downriver in a boat made of a snail's shell. En route, he encounters the kingdom of the dragonflies, talking fish, frightening mushrooms, a mole the size of an asteroid, and many other obstacles. He becomes a hero, perhaps even one his grandmother would be proud of. Delightful drawings throughout.

How would YOU position such a book in the marketplace?

MB (What she read)
I do SO enjoy Ursula Vernon's sense of humor. I need a child to share this with.
Miramira Endevall
May 27, 2010 Miramira Endevall rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Morgan
Recommended to Miramira by: JFi, that gal from bookclub who loves animal stories
Shelves: own
I have a total author-crush on Vernon. I would literary do her.
I adored this book! The prose is quite lyrical and often funny. There are lots of wonderful details such as "the voice was scratchy and raspy and metallic, like sand poured into a copper kettle." It isn't dumbed down due to the likely audience (pre-teen independent readers). It also has a touch of sweetness - but not too sweet to appeal to an 8 year old boy.

Nurk is a shrew who is a bit timid but who also longs (just a bit) for adventure. Although he is timid, he has a family legacy to live up to
Nurk is a classic children's book hero: he has always longed for adventure, but he remains at home, contemplating the fact that adventures probably involve a lack of dry socks. Still, he feels slightly ashamed that he has not lived up to the example of his grandmother, who was an adventurer extraordinaire. When a letter arrives with a blurred address, Nurk opens it. It is a plea for help from downstream -- but it is meant for his missing grandmother, not to him.

After panicking for a day or so ab
I love Ursula Vernon's art and I love her descriptions of her work, but I don't think she has a grasp of storytelling. Her ideas are cute and imaginative, but I don't think they fit well into a book. Her narrative is awkward and it mixes childlike aspects and adult aspects into one novel; I feel like the result is, as I said, awkward. Plus, I was often bored with the plot. The book is very long for a story about a shrew that only goes downriver and saves a dragonfly from a mole.

Also, I was confu
"Travel broadens the mind," the diminutive title character of "Nurk" keeps reminding himself as he progresses through the stages of his adventure in the wide and threatening world. For a tiny timid shrew who has not wandered very far at all from his home under the roots of a willow tree, the experiences that await him should broaden his mind like it was made of Silly Putty. His greatest challenge, however is trying to live up to the reputation of his battle-bred Grandmother Surka, while bearing ...more
My near seven year old loved this tale and he was not alone. On a long car ride we listened to this story and neither of us could wait to see what would happen next or what interesting character would next be introduced.
Catherine E
Wow, now I know that you should never buy oranges from wind gypsies. A few good quotes from the book:

"A true adventurer needs a keen wit, a stout heart and a strong bladder. Dumb luck can stand in for the wit and the heart, but I've never yet found a good substitute for the bladder."

"It's always nice to have someplace to come home to. At best, it's a place where you can rest and be refreshed by familiar surroundings and well-loved people. At worst, at least you remember why you wanted to go awa
The Goodreads description of this book is pretty accurate. An orphaned shrew living alone in his ancestral willow tree receives a letter addressed to his brave, adventurous, and now missing grandmother asking for her help and feels called to respond, eventually sneaking into the lair of a giant mole to rescue a dragonfly prince held captive there. A big hit with the second grader at our house.
This is a sweet, delightful adventure book, without violence but with lots of heart. I love it, and it would be great to read to even a very young child.

I want to write like then when I grown up! (N.B. I'm in my 40s)
Fabulous. Ursula Vernon does it again. She has such a great way with words that the reader can picture everything, even when there isn't one of her great illustrations to go along with it.
Bobby Simic
Nurk, a timid shrew, longs for adventure and gets his chance at it when he's mistakenly delivered a piece of mail intended for his daring but long-lost grandmother.
Nurk's a cute and likable character. I especially liked the beginning when he's preparing for his journey.
But once he goes on his adventure, the story becomes pretty typical for the little-critter-goes-on-a-big-journey genre. I found Vernon's world, which is a mix of realistic animals and fantasical creat
From the description, I didn't anticipate liking this book much. But I was pleasantly surprised. I found myself really enjoying the way Nurk's mind worked, and I chuckled out loud several times at the way he phrased things. While I didn't love it, I did think it was pretty cute. Younger kids who can read well and have a tendency toward shyness may really take a liking to Nurk.

Couple of quotes I liked:
"Surka spelled words as if they had personally offended her."
"You can't fight the weather. Well
Since this book is on the Oklahoma Children's Sequoyah List and I am a part-time elementary librarian, I have seen a promo video done by the Brown Brothers of Perma-Bound books. I was curious how the socks that Nurk was armed with would help him. I picked this book because it was rather short and it sounded interesting. By the time I was at least halfway through the book it finally got to the part about the Grizzlemole. As long as it took Nurk to reach the bad guy, he sure didn't have any proble ...more
"Travel broadens the mind", and it surely does for a little shrew named Nurk that had never left his little island before, until the fateful day that a mysterious letter came to his house. Almost by mistake Nurk ends up having an adventure following the footsteps of his famous grandmother Surka (the intrepid shrew who some will remember from Ursula's online comic Digger), sailing on a snail shell, making new friends in the land and in the air, and fighting a fearsome mole.
A quick and easy read,
Fergus Ray murray
Nurk is probably my favourite character from a kids' book that I've encountered in adult life.
Jacqueline Brown
Cute and funny story - perfect for third or fourth grade
Feb 13, 2014 Mohammed added it
Recommends it for: 0
Recommended to Mohammed by: 0
Shelves: nurk
i think nurk is going to meet this angry humming bird
Nurk's grandmother was an adventurer, but Nurk doesn't see himself as one until he embarks on a journey to return a letter to its sender. The critters who he meets along the way are all quite interesting characters. I'm still not quite sure what to make about the talking salmon hanging from that tree, although their attempts at raising an alarm are funny.

The illustrations are wonderful and the story itself is a very fun read. My kids enjoyed hearing about Nurk's adventure as much as I enjoyed re
A little slow and predictable, but still cute and fun all the same. I've been reading Vernon's webcomic Digger for years, and she's good at spinning the Epic Quest of a Reluctant Hero, but this didn't feel up to quite the same standard--maybe because she was going for a shorter, all-prose story? I dunno.

This will find its audience (3rd-5th graders, I'd guess), probably with fans of Despereaux-type stories. I wasn't wowed by it, but liked it okay--maybe 3.5 stars.
Angela Oliver
This delightful little book was a fun read. With its charming illustrations and entertaining text, it certainly kept me entertained. Vernon has a quirky sense of humour, funny without resorting to "toilet humour" and also engages in clever wordplay. Nurk's amazing adventure was a pleasure to read. Although the plot did feel rather linear - with few twists and surprises and not a great deal of tension. But there were some little quirks to liven it up. And the illustrations brought the story alive ...more
Timid Nurk is a homebody shrew, but he has always admired his adventurous and rollicking grandmother Surka. He doesn't quite know how to start an adventure, but maybe someday. Then he mistakenly opens a letter w/ a desperate plea for help to his grandmother; so he builds a boat out of a snail shell, packs his good scissors, a raincoat and some clean socks and sets off downstream on his very own adventure. A sweet adventure story for 2-4th graders
Very cute children's book about a Shrew that always wanted to go out on an adventure but was always too afraid to. He's guided by his grandma's journal which is a cute way of helping him.

The story was a little slow, but it's still cute. Sometimes it got a little repetative, and I did find the vocabulary to be rather advanced for the age that it was being marketed for. Otherwise a cute read when you don't want to get into a huge long book.
We all enjoyed this one as a read-aloud. Timid Nurk's reluctant adventuring is very appealing.
I wasn't super keen on the narrator's interpretation, but this audio had quite a number of different actors. It is a nice story with decent suspense and spelling out the discomfort of "adventures" without making it too tedious. The 7 year old followed along with the book, and I think that more pictures woudl have made her more enthusiastic (though A Nest for Celeste has that and it is too slow for her).
Aug 17, 2008 Kate rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kate by: a Junior Library Guild pick
I loved this story of a shrew who longs for adventure and finds it when he mistakenly opens a letter meant for his adventurous grandmother. The illustrations are wonderful, the characters are charming, and there was enough suspense to keep me on the edge of my seat. A great read for children who aren't quite ready for the Redwall series or for parents to read aloud to and enjoy with their kids.
Charlyn  Trussell
Jul 05, 2010 Charlyn Trussell rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Gr. 3 and up
Nurk wants to be an adventuring warrior shrew like his grandmother Surka, but he's a not-so-brave orphan living in an ancestral tree. When a mysterious letter arrives with a plea for help, Nurk ignores the call until he finds Surka's journal and realizes he will never have an adventure if he doesn't go out and seek it. But can a small somewhat brave shrew be a hero?
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Ursula Vernon is a freelance writer, artist and illustrator. She is best known for the webcomic Digger and the children's books Dragonbreath and Nurk: The Strange, Surprising Adventures of a (Somewhat) Brave Shrew. Ursula is also a prolific painter and the creator of the Biting Pear of Salamanca, a work which became an internet meme in the form of the "LOL WUT" pear.

Ursula's cover for Best in Show
More about Ursula Vernon...
Dragonbreath (Dragonbreath, #1) Attack of the Ninja Frogs (Dragonbreath, #2) Curse of the Were-wiener (Dragonbreath, #3) Lair of the Bat Monster (Dragonbreath, #4) Digger, Volume One (Digger, #1)

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