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The Raft

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  919 ratings  ·  135 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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Average rating 4.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  919 ratings  ·  135 reviews

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Lisa Vegan
May 20, 2010 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
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young Artists & Nature Lovers
Recommended to Abigail by: Kathryn
When he must spend the summer with his grandmother - an artist who is a self-described "river rat" - Nikki is sure that he will have nothing to do. But he soon finds that life in the country is anything but boring, and when he discovers a raft on the nearby river, decorated with beautiful pictures of the local animals, a wonderful time of discovery begins. Alone, or in the company of Grandma, Nikki explores the river - poling upriver, drifting down, observing and interacting with the wildlife, s ...more
Linda Lipko
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 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!
Jul 19, 2013 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.
Jill  Roberta Meyer
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There are good books, books not meant for you, and then there are books that live within your soul for the rest of your days. This is one of the ones that will live in my soul. I am not sure what exactly it is. But this book... There are so many aspects that make this a beautiful book. The view from the child, the view from the Grandmother. The whole beauty of it. I hope it stirs someone else's soul as deeply as it does mine.
Melissa Namba
Sep 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: dnamba
I'm a little biased because I guess I have become the River Rat Aunt, living on a river. But I know that my brother's kids will be able to relate and will have fun with this book. They enjoy nature and have participated on many of the activities. They love fishing. Its kind of a long and wordy story, so it is for older readers.
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a faintly magical book with beautiful illustrations. The main character has a rough start and doesn't display the most admirable of behavior at first. Although this isn't really addressed, we do see a gradual transformation throughout the story, and a sweet ending. I love the story and the pictures.

I will note that some mysterious ability is attributed to the raft; it seems to have a calming effect on the wild creatures. This is pretty mild, but something to be aware of.
Linda Gill
Aug 25, 2013 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
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.
Jackie "the Librarian"
Sep 26, 2007 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.
Oct 07, 2013 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.
May 09, 2012 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.
Aug 30, 2015 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!
Aug 04, 2013 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.
Nov 18, 2015 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.
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
What a wonderful summer. Reminds me of the exploring my boys did in Oregon.
Read with Naomi & Simon.
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
my kiddos loved this one!
Helena Sorensen
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely gorgeous (story AND illustrations). Highly recommend. Great book for boys.
Wayne Walker
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Nicky is going to be staying the whole summer with his grandmother who lives beside a river in the northern Wisconsin woods because his dad has to spend all his time working at a plant. The boy just knows that he is going to be bored. There are no kids around to play with, and Grandma doesn’t even own a television. But she does have chores for Nicky to do, including fishing for supper, which is the worst chore ever. However, one afternoon, while Nicky is trying to catch their dinner, a raft drif ...more
Mario Flores
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Late Elementary and Middle school-aged children
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Whole And
The perfect summer read, especially if spending time with grandparents.
Nicky will be spending a summer unplugged with grandma and he is not happy.
As the summer progresses he discovers hidden magic in the forest with the help of a mysterious raft depicting animal drawings. He soon learns what it is he's supposed to do and his summer turns out to be quite the enchanted adventure.

Gentle and capturing the transformation of feelings in this young, the author captivates us with a swirl of tales from h
Michael Morley
Oct 15, 2017 rated it liked it
With breathtaking artwork, Jim LaMarche gives one boy a summer of a lifetime. Going to grandmas was something Nicky did not want to do, but after falling asleep at the dock by his grandma’s cottage, his summer turned into one of the greatest he’s ever had. This story shows us that never get sad or have a moment of doubt when going to grandma’s house, because you never know what kind of summer you are going to have, or what kind of wilderness adventures that you will go on with grandma, and be su ...more
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: all ages
This fictional story of a boy spending the summer with his grandma is alright. I didn't care too much for the story line. On the plus side, I found the illustrations to be extremely captivating. As an animal lover I also was able to appreciate this book because of this aspect. It made me think about how I handle change and what coping mechanisms I use. I feel as if anyone can relate to this particular piece. If you don't think that you can, then you can at least enjoy the illustrations. Not a bo ...more
Maddy Roth
Dec 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Genre: Modern Fantasy
Date: 10-22
Grade Range: 2-5

This book is about a kid who is stuck at his grandmas and is rather unhappy about it until he find a raft that brings him closer to the woodland animals and his grandmother. The raft seems almost magic as he is able to get close to the wildlife and it releases his inner creativity. It is a rather clever book about how something so simple can generate relationships. It's a charming tale for any student to read and imagine the raft as something for
Sarah Balmer
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Contemporary Realistic
Grades: P-2
This book was one that I think could be relatable to so many children. Not only is it an adorable tale of a boy and adventures he takes on this raft, but also the family situation that is going on is one that really made it relatable to the child from a split family that sometimes ends up in places where they don't want to be. I loved the adventurous tone throughout this book, as well as the good moral of taking care of animals. There really are so many good qua
Lynn  Davidson
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a remarkable book, both for its wonderful story and its stunning illustrations/paintings.
Nicky is not happy about having to spend the summer with his grandmother in the Wisconsin woods. She gets him doing chores, but he can't seem to catch any of the fish in the nearby river. He's not liking the country life until one day a raft floats to the dock he sits on. That raft changes his whole perspective and appreciation for his grandmother's quiet life. Beautiful story.
Jessica Erwin
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Grades- K-2
Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction

It turns out that Nicky's summer did not turn out as bad as he thought it might. Jim LaMarche creates amazing imagery in this story and allows the reader to want to really picture where Nicky is while on the river and with the raft. I love the fact that the raft was able to change Nicky's whole summer in many different ways. Read to find out what is so significant about this raft! Young readers might be able to relate to Nicky's situation!
FM Family
This was a lovely, but older age story that shows a kid out exploring alone in the world, which I think is a great theme for a kids book. Does the thing where it starts out with the kid being like "ugh, I hate this" but after time he starts to get the energy and lifestyle of the place. And I appreciated how the grandma was just like - deal with it! And the kid did. Nice story I'll return to when my daughter is a little older. As it was at 3 she couldn't pay attention the whole way through.
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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.

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