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The Raft

4.36  ·  Rating Details  ·  470 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
Inspired by various experiences from his childhood, Jim LaMarche, beloved illustrator of A Story for Bear and The Elves and the Shoemaker, brings this touching story about one boy's unexpected summer as a river rat to life with his bold, picturesque paintings.

Nicky isn't one bit happy about spending the summer with his grandma in the Wisconsin woods; he'd much rather be ba
Paperback, 40 pages
Published May 28th 2002 by HarperCollins (first published April 5th 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 893)
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Lisa Vegan
May 26, 2010 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children who like adventure, animals, nature, art and creating art
Recommended to Lisa by: Abigail A. & Kathryn & Jackie "the Librarian"
Perhaps 1 in 10 books at the most touch me deeply to my core. This is one of them.

It’s a beautiful book, both in appearance and in its message/story.

I adore the illustrations. The story is about a boy (the author makes it clear that this is a book about himself as a youngster) who is left with his grandmother for the summer. She lives on the river and is an artist. The boy is unhappy at first, no other kids, no tv, and he has to do chores. But, he finds a raft and ends up experiencing a magical
Linda Lipko
Jan 22, 2016 Linda Lipko rated it it was amazing
This is a lovely book. The coupling of a fine story and exquisite illustrations make this a book to buy for a children's illustrated book collection. There aren't enough words to describe the magic and beauty contained in this wonderful book!

Based on the author/illustrators childhood, the young boy is at an age when boredom feels overwhelmingly something to be avoided at all costs. When his father is busy with work, he asks his mother to watch the boy. Remembering fond memories of his childhood,
Oct 02, 2009 Kathryn rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: nature lovers and budding artists, especially!
Jim LaMarche's illustrations always strike me with their warmth, beauty and sense of "life." This story is a fictionalized account of the summer in his boyhood when his passion for art was kindled, by the river and its animal inhabitants and by his artist grandmother and the inspiration she allowed him simply by letting him be free. A beautiful story!
Aug 17, 2013 Dolly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This book was selected as one of the books for the August 2013 - Summer Outdoor Activities discussion at the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books Group here at Goodreads.

This is a wonderful tale of being outdoors, exploring and learning more about nature, and spending time with extended family. I am so, so happy that I brought this book on our summer vacation trip up north to visit our family. I read this book once with our youngest and her cousin and then again with our oldest (she fell as
Another easy-going, laid back tale that makes me wish for a quieter time and place of life. I would have loved to have a summer like this, close to animals and being able to draw them. And with a grandmother that just somehow understands. The book might be too long for the Book Time, as far as fitting it into the time frame or even keeping their attention. But it is definitely worth a book talk if I can squeeze it in.
Aug 25, 2013 Linda rated it it was amazing
I am drawn to books with art that just sidles up alongside the words, blending the tale into a visual feast as well as an auricular feast. "The Raft" is just that ... a fine story and wonderful art.

Nicky has to spend the summer with his grandmother, an artist living on a river. Nicky is not happy about having to be there away from his father. But he has no choice. He does chores for his grandmother and then begrudgingly heads off to fish or do some activity that she has set up for him. Before l
Aug 30, 2015 Melanie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, kids-2015
What a wonderful story! My kids and I all loved this book about a young boy who reluctantly goes to spend a summer with his grandma. During his time there, he discovers a love of nature, adventure, art, and of course his Grandma!
Nov 18, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
I this book. A true lover of nature! Kiley read this with me tonight for her reading challenge. ...more
Helena Sorensen
Jun 30, 2015 Helena Sorensen rated it it was amazing
Absolutely gorgeous (story AND illustrations). Highly recommend. Great book for boys.
Brian Cave
One of the best children books I have ever read, if not the best. The illustrations were amazing in this book. A perfect book for younger children who love animals and adventure. A great story about a boy and a summer with his grandmother at her lake house. There are endless ways in which you could build lessons about nature, animals, rivers, art, and family. So glad I found this book, only if I wish I would have found this book during my childhood.
Oct 07, 2013 Jenny rated it really liked it
This is so beautifully illustrated that it makes me wish I could go float down a river tomorrow...and that I could provide that type of outdoor/nature summer for my kids. So beautiful and peaceful. I love that it is loosely based on the author's own experiences. I've had this checked out for weeks from the library and never opened it. So glad I finally did.
Jackie "the Librarian"
Sep 26, 2007 Jackie "the Librarian" rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: if you like beautiful picture books
A boy goes to spend the summer with his grandmother, and finds a raft with animals drawn on the surface. It's his grandmother's, and she gives him some charcoal and paints to create his own animal portraits. I love the watercolor art with lots of warm browns, and all the animals. This is the kind of book I want to climb into and live in for awhile.
May 09, 2012 Trace rated it it was amazing
Luke and I both agreed that this is a 5-star kind of a book. Its also a pure Lukey kind of a book - all about a boy who discovers a love for nature and for drawing. Gorgeous illustrations and a very charming story. Luke wants to use his allowance to purchase this one for his library.
Alyssa Teator
Dec 07, 2014 Alyssa Teator rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Title: "The Raft"
Author/Illustrator: Jim LaMarche
Published: April 5th 2000 by HarperCollins
Genre: Realistic Fiction
This story is beautifully illustrated with realistic scenery, colors, and details. Inspired by the author's childhood, this is a story about a boy who sent off to spend the summer with his grandma in the Wisconsin woods. His grandma is what is called a "river rat". She loves to spend time outdoors and is an artist and sculptor. Throughout the story, we see a great amount of characte
Nov 17, 2013 Danielle rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
My favorite part of this book is that we're never told where the raft comes from. But we know.
Apr 28, 2014 Jackie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books, summer
The thought of spending the whole summer with his Grandma deep in the woods near the river is almost too much for him. What will he do with no TV, no friends...endlessly waiting for his dad to pick him up again and return to the city? Miraculously, he finds The Raft and days are never long enough with all the sights, flora, and fauna there is to explore with his grandmas there to guide him.

The Raft is a sweet story of a lingering, lazy summer spent on the river, glimpsing all the wondrous sight
Oct 23, 2014 Shawna added it
Shelves: edrd-314
I love books that create a world of deep meaning and foreshadowing. This book has such a captivating story of a young boy traveling to live with his grandmother. He fears not having friends, or being bored. Instead, he adventures and finds a raft. He notices that the raft has several pictures/drawing on it. As his grandmother journeys with him on the raft, he falls in love with it. I am a fan of this book because it creates a dynamic of passion. The boy begins to be so passionate about his raft ...more
Kim Valentine
Aug 29, 2008 Kim Valentine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The genre for this book would be realistic fiction about nature and family. I would recommend this book for second through fifth grade. This is a sweet gentle calming story about a boy who spends the summer with his grandma. He doesn't think he will like spending the whole summer with his grandma but discovers an old raft and explores the river and beautiful creature in nature. He even rescue a fawn who is stuck in the mud. He discovers he is an artist just like his grandma and has a wonderful s ...more
May 01, 2010 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Imagine passing a summer drifting up and down a slow-moving river, watching as cranes, turtles, raccoons, otters, and ducks grow accustomed to your presence. Envision days spent poling the raft through lily pads and grasses, glimpsing foxes through the trees on shore. On hot, sticky nights, picture a tent set up on the raft, from which you have an unobstructed view of huge bucks drinking from the moonlit river. Nicky has no idea what he's getting into when his father drops him off for the summer ...more
May 05, 2014 Jill rated it it was amazing
A boy named Nicky, disgruntled about having to spend the summer with his grandma who lives near a river, discovers there is more to grandma and the river and summer than he imagined.

The illustrations are beautiful, peaceful and full of space to imagine yourself in the book with Nicky. My girls have asked me to read this over and over and I don't mind at all. The words flow as softly as the river and the illustrations...oh! I love them. Have I mentioned that? :)
Nov 29, 2015 Loraine rated it really liked it
Autobiographical at its core, this lovely story of a young boy who is given a summer vacation with his grandmother, a self-reliant woman who lives in the back country of Wisconsin. He is reluctant in the beginning of his stay, reluctant and resentful. But a raft, his grandmother's unobtrusive kindness and good-humor, and a raft allow a love of nature to bloom. And through that, he discovers his talents as an artist. Beautiful artwork, lovely story, gently told.
Jul 07, 2014 Kami rated it liked it
The pictures were pretty and the story was decent, albeit far different from my usual favorite fairy tales. It kept both my 7 and 6 year old's attention, but my 4 yr. old son just wanted to look at the pictures after, I don't know how much he actually listened too. I would check it out from the library, but not necessarily buy it.
Lisa Martino
Mar 23, 2015 Lisa Martino rated it it was amazing
This book was a wonderful tale about a boy who had an unexpected adventure during a visit to his grandmother's house over the summer. This book is visually stunning . The illustrator captures natural light in a way that makes you feel that you there. My first grader son loved it and I equally enjoyed reading it to him.
Amy Baric
Nick is forced by his parents to spend time staying with his grandmother over the summer. At first, he is bored by the lack of entertainment around him, but he later discovers an old raft on the stream by his grandmother’s house. He then learns about the value of being outside and using his imagination. Nick learns how to go on adventures and appreciate being with family and friends.
Most children these days can probably relate to feeling forced to spend time without electronics. Sometimes, it
Laura (booksnob)
Jun 11, 2014 Laura (booksnob) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-book, 2014
I Love this book. It reminds me so much of growing up and spending summers with my grandparents in Wisconsin. The artwork and story are beautiful. It is a wonderful book for any child.
Feb 19, 2016 Janine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just beautiful, the artwork, the made me tear up reading it. I couldn't wait to share it with my 8 year old son. He loved it too.
Jan 31, 2013 Peacegal rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful book that shares the wonder of nature. With so many children shunning playing outdoors in favor of videogames and social network, this is a peaceful and engaging reminder of what lies just beyond the backdoor.

Veg*n parents will probably cringe at the fact that the story opens with numerous references to fishing, mounted fish on the cabin wall, and eating fish. However, the real adventure begins when the boy puts down his fishing pole and sails out on a raft, suggesting that n
AD540L. Great story. Wonderful illustrations.
Amy Yount
Feb 13, 2016 Amy Yount rated it liked it
Chapter 4 recommended books
Jun 20, 2012 Relyn rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teachers, parents, kids
Recommended to Relyn by: spotted at the library
Shelves: lawsonland
As before, Jim LaMarche has written a quiet story that provides, to quote Anne Shirley, "much scope for the imagination." His art is just wonderful, too. I liked the autobiographical tone of this story, too. It's a kind of quiet homage to summers and grandmother's and art and being true to yourself. Read the Author's Note - of course.

Lesson Connection

The Author's Note really adds to this story. I think I will use it as an example for my reading lesson: Good readers always read every part of a b
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Jim LaMarche is the illustrator of more than twenty books for children, including Dennis Haseley’s A Story for Bear; The Carousel by Liz Rosenberg; The Rainbabies by Laura Krauss Melmed; and Albert by Donna Jo Napoli. He is the author-illustrator of The Raft. Jim LaMarche grew up in Wisconsin and now lives in California.
More about Jim LaMarche...

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