Nurk: The Strange, Surprising Adventures of a (Somewhat) Brave Shrew
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

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

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  297 ratings  ·  74 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 off to 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...more
ebook, 144 pages
Published June 1st 2008 by Harcourt Brace and Company (first published January 1st 2008)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Nurk, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Nurk

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 470)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Lara's
Nov 15, 2008 Lara's rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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 ha...more
Res
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...more
Jen
I ordered Nurk sight-unseen, as a fan of Ursula Vernon's art and her blog, and I wasn't disappointed.

It's a delightful story about Nurkus Aurelious Alonzo Electron Maximilian Shrew. Most folks just call him Nurk. He is the Bilbo Baggins of this adventure tale, and I fell in love with him immediately.

Though paced for children, Vernon's writing is clever enough for any adult with a well developed sense of whimsy to enjoy thoroughly, and the vocabulary level isn't at all childish.

I'm likely to re-r...more
MB
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Tricia
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...more
Kirsten
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...more
Anna
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...more
Phillip
"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
Catherine
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...more
Hope
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)
Bobby Simic
Summary:
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.
Strengths:
Nurk's a cute and likable character. I especially liked the beginning when he's preparing for his journey.
Weaknesses:
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...more
babyhippoface
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...more
Courtney
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
Ian
"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,...more
Mohammed
Feb 13, 2014 Mohammed added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 0
Recommended to Mohammed by: 0
Shelves: nurk
i think nurk is going to meet this angry humming bird
Brandy
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
Kathy
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
Cindy
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.
Jenine
We all enjoyed this one as a read-aloud. Timid Nurk's reluctant adventuring is very appealing.
Tanya
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).
Kate
Aug 17, 2008 Kate rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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?
Hobbes
Nurk is a cute children's story about a shrew who decides he wants an adventure. Nurk is a quiet and timid little shrew who is perfectly happy in his quiet at-home life, though he was always fascinated by stories of his Grandmother who was a famous adventurer. One day he finds her journal and starts decrypting and thinks that maybe he would like to have an adventure himself.
Pam
Oct 13, 2008 Pam rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Beginning Chapter book Readers
Nurk, a shrew, wants to be like his grandmother, a warrior. A letter, a journal, and the King of Dragonflies leads him on an adventure that only a true warrior could survive. This sweet adventure story ends with a cliff hanger. Is Nurk's grandmother alive? A sequal is sure to follow. Easy read for beginner chapter book readers with black ink illustrations.
Angela
The imagery in this book was to die for. Loved the fish tree and the wall of mushrooms etc. I really wish that there was a Nurk 2 : The Search for Surka. That would make my life complete. I loved the universe that this took place in, largely because it's something in the same realm as Ursula's Digger Comic (and yes, Surka is a character there too).
Susan
This book is really, really, REALLY great. It is SO fun as an audiobook as well. Our whole family listened to it on a car trip, a long while back now, and it is one of our classics. It is funny and cute and also, according to my 6-year-old, a little scary in an exciting way, and has so much to offer everyone. LOVE LOVE LOVE!
Loralee
Sep 15, 2008 Loralee rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody!
Nurk is a fun book for middle grade readers. It's the tale of a young (somewhat) brave shew, and his adventures. They all start the day a grumpy hummingbird delivers a letter to someone with "Urk" in their name. (The writing was smudged) I don't want to give much more away, but it was a great story to read!
Kate
Though this book is for younger readers, there is no reason an older reader cannot also enjoy it! Nurk the Shrew is very endearing, and a little like all of us, and a little like we all want to be. His adventure is well-written and funny. I'd expect nothing less, of course, from the indomitable Ursula Vernon.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 15 16 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Hero Revealed (The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy, #1)
  • Young Fredle (Davis Farm, #2)
  • Dragonborn (The Flaxfield Quartet, #1)
  • Me and the Pumpkin Queen
  • The Outlandish Adventures of Liberty Aimes
  • The Magical Ms. Plum
  • Windblowne
  • A Barrel of Laughs, a Vale of Tears
  • The Nine Pound Hammer (The Clockwork Dark, #1)
  • Dominic
  • Jacob's Ladder
  • Fortune's Magic Farm
  • Not Your Typical Dragon
  • The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A novel of snow and courage
  • Superman: The Man of Steel, Vol. 2
  • Ghosthunters and the Totally Moldy Baroness!
  • Waggit's Tale
  • The Grand Plan to Fix Everything
36276
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
More about Ursula Vernon...
Dragonbreath (Dragonbreath, #1) Attack of the Ninja Frogs (Dragonbreath, #2) Curse of the Were-wiener (Dragonbreath, #3) Digger, Volume One (Digger, #1) Lair of the Bat Monster (Dragonbreath, #4)

Share This Book

“I love boats. Boats are great. You can get all kinds of places and meet all kinds of interesting people, and you never know if they're going to try to eat you or worship you.” 5 likes
More quotes…