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The Raft

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The Raft by Jim LaMarche

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 at his grandmother's cottage in the woods. And he's not especially pleased at the prospect. "There's nobody to play with ... She doesn't even have a TV." But this "river rat" is not the normal kind of grandma. Without pushing, she quietly allows Nicky to discover for himself the wonders of river life. Gradually, Nicky's interest in drawing the wildlife he sees brings him closer to his artist grandmother, and to an inner peace that looks as though it will last for a lifetime.

Jim LaMarche draws on his own childhood summer experiences for this lovely, serene story. As the light and weather change through the summer, the river reflects all the beauty of the season. LaMarche has illustrated many remarkable and award-winning picture books, including the magical Little Oh and The Rainbabies. (Ages 4 to 9) (

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✒️ Author & illustrator

Author: Jim LaMarche

Website for Jim LaMarche

Other books by Jim LaMarche

The author is also the illustrator.

📖 Topics from the book:

Visit each topic page for downloads, lessons, etc. specific to that topic.

📂 Units, Activities, and Resources for The Raft

The Raft - Review
From Nature Lit

Wisconsin bird watching

The muskrat is found in swamps, marshes, and wetlands from northern North America to the Gulf coast and the Mexican border. Early in the 20th century, muskrats were introduced to northern Eurasia (Baker, 1983).

Everything Muskrat
Muskrats. Muskrats? Muskrats! Do you want to know something about muskrats? You've come to the right place! Hundreds of links to muskrat-related pages are given in the categories above. Click on one and explore the world of muskrat on the web.

All about Muskrats, along with pictures.

Herps of Wisconsin Amphibians and reptiles
Wisconsin is home to 19 species of amphibians (frogs and salamanders) and 37 reptiles (snakes, turtles and lizards). Of these, seven are listed as endangered, three are threatened and 19 are listed as special concern.

Mammals of Wisconsin Database

Follow that footprint, paw print, hoof print
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Wisconsin Kids Paper Dolls
This website takes you back into the lives of two of WI residents from 1860's and early 1900's. You can print out your own paper dolls for each child. Great for timelines.

TEACH Great Lakes
Features mini-lessons on many Great Lakes topics: environment, history & culture, geography, pollution, and careers & business. Geared for elementary through high school students, the modules are continually expanded and updated and include links to a glossary to help explain scientific terms and acronyms. Explore the Great Lakes at your fingertips!

Why are we featuring this book?

The Raft is a book featured in Five in a Row, a literature-based unit study curriculum. Many families use FIAR for all but the grammar/reading and math, and others use it in conjunction with other resources. Above is information about the author and illustrator, story summaries, and links to lesson plans and websites that are great go-alongs for The Raft. Please note that these resources are meant to complement, not replace, the Five in a Row units. The Five in a Row volumes are inexpensive and well worth the investment.

As featured on

US News & World Report, Forbes, KQED, HuffPost,, Money, Healthline Parenthood, Family Education, Parents, Scholastic