Children’s Book Giveaway: The Raft.
February 17, 2011

If you’ve read this website for any length of time, it probably will come as no surprise to you that Donald and I are very big fans of nature.  And if I had to guess, that is likely the reason that Jim LaMarche’s The Raft appeals to me so.  The Raft is a book about family, about art, about solitude, about compassion, about exploration, about quiet…but I think it is first and foremost a book about the magic of the wild.


Fascinated by the raccoon illustrations!

LaMarche’s book begins when a boy is reluctantly dropped off at his grandmother’s for the summer.  He hates it until, by chance, he discovers an abandoned raft.  The boy proceeds to spend the rest of the summer on the raft – exploring the river, learning to sketch, admiring the wildlife, even pitching a tent for the night.

There is more to the story, of course, but I really don’t want to ruin it!

What I will say is this: LaMarche’s illustrations are incredible.  The Raft is best suited for children a couple years older than Charlotte, so when we read it I streamline the story and focus on the images.  We especially focus on telling short fantasies about the different creatures.  And because the images are so breathtaking, there is always plenty to notice and talk about.  There is one spread of the boy illustrating a great blue heron he sees that I find particularly astounding.  The story is wonderful, but in all honesty it’s the illustrations that really make this a top-notch book.

What to do: You can enter this giveaway by leaving a comment below or sending me an e-mail answering this: what was your favorite summertime activity as a kid?  All you need is an e-mail address.  The giveaway ends Sunday evening at 9 P.M. Pacific Time.  You can leave one entry every day.

To purchase this book: You can buy The Raft through Amazon.com (that link uses my affiliate code) or locate a local retailer through Indie Bound.org.

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  1. By Lindsay on February 17, 2011

    I got so excited seeing the cover of that book! The Blue Herons! The raccoons! Needless to say, I grew up here in South Florida, only steps from the Everglades. My favorite summertime activity as a kid was accompanying my dad to morning drives out to the Everglades (which, admittedly, I still do every other weekend now at 25!). We’d go every morning and look at the herons, the waterbirds, the fish swimming, the gators sunning themselves, the occasional raccoon or deer running into the brush. We’d take pictures and make journals of all of the animals we saw and eagerly wait to come back the next morning to soak up the nature. My dad would also take us out on his boat through the Everglades every so often, and we’d get to quietly drift through the Everglades and see the wildlife up close: the gators sunning themselves, the gators swimming alongside the boat, the nests of waterbirds huddled tightly in the marsh.

  2. By on February 17, 2011

    I loved going to my pop-pop’s house.  We would pull vegetables from the garden, eat Jello, and swim in his pool having competitions to see who could hold their breath underwater the longest… ( he always won).

  3. By Alicia S. on February 17, 2011

    Climbing trees - and when I got old enough building treeforts. We had a section of forest in a nearby neighborhood that was lined with a whole row of treeforts spanning from tree to tree. It was awesome.

    I’m an aspiring illustrator myself, so I’m really crossing my fingers for this one! :-D

  4. By beyond on February 17, 2011

    we had a weeping willow with a few low branches in the garden. i loved to climb up -it wasn’t high at all, but it seemed to be!- and play there with a few stuffed animals and small blankets.

  5. By on February 17, 2011

    my sister and I turned our tree in the front yard into a fort, complete wth sheet walls, and pots hanging from ropes. We had a blast.

    we also used to bike to the st. Johns river and feed the manatees (i lived in jax, fl growing up). I hope my daughter has great memories like these!

  6. By on February 17, 2011

    My favorite summertime activity was camping with my family and another good family friend. We started camping back when Goonies came out and so us five kids (between the two families) would play on this rock barrier that jutted out into the lake and we called in “Goonie Hill!“ ;)

  7. By on February 17, 2011

    This book sounds amazing.  We see blue herons near our home in the summertime, which is absolutely glorious.
    My favorite summertime activity as a kid was probably reading.  Without school and school-year activities, I had a lot more free time to read whatever I wanted to read.  OK, there was one summer when I was about 10 or 11 where instead of reading much, I watched a lot of television reruns, but mostly I was a reader!

  8. By on February 17, 2011

    I was lucky enough to grow up in the country and spent my summers exploring the wild.  Whether it be tramping through the woods, floating my barbies down the local creeks, building tree forts or just playing outside ALL DAY LONG I loved it.

  9. By on February 17, 2011

    When I was a kid, my whole family (Mom, Dad, Brother and I) would go out to our garden beds in the evenings and tend them. We would pull weeds, pick ripe vegetables, look for those awful tomato worms (eew!) and just spend the long hours of summer evenings together. Usually our Cats and our Dog were there with us, sniffing around and enjoying the smell of fresh, clean dirt. Those are some of my fondest memories…

  10. By on February 17, 2011

    My favourite summer activity was setting up the tent on our trampoline and camping out for the night with my sisters.  Also, taking our sheep swimming in the river.  Farm kids do weird things!

  11. By gretchen from lifenut on February 17, 2011

    I loved riding my bike in the summer. I also liked sleeping in the backyard.

    This looks like such a great book.

  12. By Sara on February 17, 2011

    I love books for my son & getting reviews on books from other moms.

    As a child I loved when we knew we were going somewhere fun like the lake or the waterslides and we would look forward to it for days and days on end and the night before was always full of anticipation and no sleep thanks to excitement. The days would start early. We’d have mom pack a lunch and ask a million times “are we there yet” and spend the day playing as a family and being active and that night once we were home we’d have the best sleep EVER! (I bet my mom loved this too:)

  13. By on February 17, 2011

    Walking to the swimming pool - mom didn’t drive so off we went my sister and I and small brother in a stroller.  Lots to see and talk about!!  Enjoyed a picnic lunch after swimming

  14. By on February 17, 2011

    My brother, sister and I used to go explore the creek near our house.  We would collect clay from the bottom or set up forts or just walk as far as we could up it.

  15. By Jennifer W on February 17, 2011

    My favorite summer activity was sleepovers. I would spend practically the whole summer over at my friend’s house playing, swimming, etc…

  16. By on February 17, 2011

    I loved digging for worms and catching fireflies

  17. By Tracy Roberts on February 17, 2011

    just being outside all day!

  18. By on February 17, 2011

    Playing softball!

  19. By on February 17, 2011

    I loved playing outside as long as I could!

  20. By on February 18, 2011

    We played outside all day.  These were the days before playdates.  Our moms threw us out of the house in the morning, and other than a brief check-in at lunchtime, we spent all day and into the evening running between backyards, jumping through sprinklers, and making up games.  Glorious times!

  21. By on February 18, 2011

    My Mom used to lock us outside (I guess we ran back inside too often), so much time was spent outdoors.  I remember playing with a big rubber ball against the side of the house with my best friend and spending hours on stilts and jumping on a pogo stick.  Good times!

  22. By on February 18, 2011

    There were a few summers where I got to go away to sleepover camp for a week or two.  The camp had a pretty ‘rough’in it’ style, deep in the Adirondacks, and I loved it!  I never liked daycamp, but sleepover camp was glorious!  (Of course, a week or two was pretty short!)

  23. By Allison on February 18, 2011

    Looks like a great book!

    My favorite childhood summer days were spent outside. ALL day. I would leave in the morning, meet friends, and we would wander around. Climbing trees, playing frisbee or kicking balls around, bike riding, you name it. We wouldn’t come home until the sun set and it began to get cool out.

  24. By Jennifer W on February 18, 2011

    Another favorite summer activity was “cruising” the mall with friends. I never had any money and one of our parents was usually following us…but it was still fun.

  25. By Saa on February 18, 2011

    We used to go back east to Upstate New York to visit family, and my favorite part (besides seeing my cousins & Grandparents) was catching fireflies. We would ride bikes, and run in the woods behind my grandparents house, and in the evening catch these bugs. Best. Thing. Ever.

  26. By on February 18, 2011

    I loved going to sleep-away camp as a kid.  I can’t imagine sending my kid to sleep-away camp though!!  Luckily he’s only 8 months old so I have a lot of time to get used to the idea!

  27. By Katy @ Wiggle Wagon on February 18, 2011

    I loved canoeing with my dad as a kid.  We lived near a lot of rivers, so we did this pretty often.  When we went canoeing or kayaking together, we would always start early in the morning and pack a lunch to eat on an island or sandbar.  We always got Dairy Queen Blizzards on the way home, too.

  28. By Tracy Roberts on February 18, 2011

    voted on both today…

  29. By on February 19, 2011

    I could never make a list of all my favorite summertime activities as a child and forget to write about swimming!  I grew up near some beautiful lakes, so summertime was the blessed time for jumping in and picnicking by their banks!  I’ve never been one to enjoy swimming pools much (dont’ like the chlorine), but there is something absolutely magical about taking a canoe (or raft!) into the middle of a lake on a warm summer’s day and then using it as a launch for a relaxing swim.

  30. By on February 20, 2011

    I did not grow up anywhere near the ocean, but most summers, we got to take a trip to the coast.  The water was frigid, so we never spent much time swimming in the sea!  But watching the coastal wildlife, exploring the intertidal zone and tidepools, collecting seaglass and other things washed up by the waves.  These were all favorite summertime activities for me!


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