The Raft
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The Raft

4.36 of 5 stars 4.36  ·  rating details  ·  301 ratings  ·  65 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...more
Paperback, 40 pages
Published May 28th 2002 by HarperCollins (first published April 5th 2000)
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Community Reviews

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Lisa Vegan
May 26, 2010 Lisa Vegan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Kathryn
Oct 02, 2009 Kathryn rated it 4 of 5 stars
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!
Dolly
Aug 17, 2013 Dolly rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Heidi
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.
Linda
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...more
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.
Jenny
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 5 of 5 stars
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.
Trace
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.
Jackie
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...more
Kim Valentine
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
Jessica
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
Jill
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? :)
Kami
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.
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...more
Laura (booksnob)
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.
Peacegal
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...more
Relyn
Jun 20, 2012 Relyn rated it 4 of 5 stars
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...more
Gail Barge
This is such a beautiful story that would be good to discuss habitats of animals in a science discussion, as well as the relationship between the grandmother and the young boy. This is an important relationship for students to understand, and the reasons why respecting the elderly is important. I would also connect it to a writing activity where students discover their own secret during summer vacation (such as the raft) and what adventures they had with their secret object.
Cynthia
Nov 05, 2008 Cynthia rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: primary and intermediate grades
LaMarche writes so beautifully that we feel we are on the river raft with Nicky. THis story is a wonderful example of how a character can develop over time. At the beginning, he is upset at having to spend the summer with his artist grandmother. When he finds the raft,he begins to appreciate the sights and sounds on the river, and even begins to express himself through his own art. The author's note explains that this book is based on his own boyhood experiences.
Chak
Nov 19, 2008 Chak rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: kid
A very sweet book about a young boy spending a summer with his artistic, nature-loving grandmother. He discovers the artist within himself and learns to become independent and interdependent. This is a great bedtime book because of its slow and gentle pace. Best for ages 5 and above, I think.

If you like this book, you might also like "Fireflies for Nathan," which is also a book about a boy who spends a summer with his grandparents in a natural setting.
Linda Robinson
I found this book recently on a list of best children's books. I thought it was a new book list, but it was probably a best ever list. And The Raft fits that list, and my list, too. I love the art, the story; each page is a gift to the eyes and heart. I can hear the water lapping against the raft, the rustle of a fox family in the trees, the wind in the pines, grandma's laughter. Beautifully written, gorgeously portrayed.
Kasmarine
Nicky thought his summer was going to be ruin when his dad told him that he was going to spend it with Grandma, the Rckiiver Rat.
This River Rat found a hidden "river rat" in Nicky. This is a wonderful story about relationship between grandma and grandson. This relationship developed and grew through the discovery of the raft. A great text to help children discover the hidden treasures around them and within them.
Heidi Taylor
Nick is not pleased to spend some summer time with his "river rat" grandmother, but soon he discovers all the life and adventures the river has to offer, as well as his artistic ability. Beautiful illustrations in warm colors enticed me to read this book. Endearing story that would be good for any young boy who may need to learn the value of spending some time outdoors!
Meredith Martin
Oct 05, 2008 Meredith Martin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Meredith by: Me
Shelves: children-s-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jen
My boys picked this book out at the public library and I'm so glad they did! Beautiful story and illustrations about a young boy who goes to spend the summer with his Grandma, thinking it's going to be boring. He discovers so many treasures outdoors and has a wonderful time. Great story about famil relationships.
H Wells Lucas
A coming of age and appreciation of nature and a grandparent. The story is true-to-life as we all see something
new negatively at first, but then eventually grow to appreciate and sometimes even love it. The animals were
a neat part of the story, as the boy rescued the fawn just as his grandma did for him.
Debra Millan
I was initially drawn to this book because of its amazing artwork. However, they story turned out to be as equally amazing and one that moved my heart. I especially liked that the story focused on nature and outdoor activities. I think this book would make an excellent addition to any classroom or home library.
Stephanie
Nov 01, 2007 Stephanie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: adults and children alike
This is a beautiful book about a boy who spends the summer with his grandma on a river. This book is a reminder of how we should be spending our summers. Exploring, reading, painting and paying attention to the world around us. I have read this book to kindergartners and 10 year olds and they all loved it.
Kyle Miller
This book was probably my favorite picturebook that I read this semester. I loved how a boy, one that boys could relate to in my future classroom, finds out more about himself in nature. With illustrations that draw readers into the story, The Raft would be a great teaching tool to be used in the classroom.
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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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