Nate Rocks the Boat by Karen Pokras Toz
Publisher: Grand Daisy Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (142 pages)
Age Recommendation: 8+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle
With fourth grade finally winding down, 10-year-old Nathan Rockledge is looking forward to a fun and relaxing summer at home with his friends. That is, until his mom decides he has to go to overnight camp with his annoying older sister. When his best friend Tommy decides to tag along, Nathan thinks maybe his summer won’t actually be so bad. After all, he does get to be away from his mom's awful cooking for an entire six weeks.
Amongst Color War competitions, a flaky counselor, and a bully named "No-Neck,” Nathan turns to his trusty sketchpad, transforming himself into Nate Rocks: 10-year-old extraordinaire. His speedboat ready for action, Nate saves the day time and again from the perils of floods, snakes, ghosts, and even the most wanted criminals.
Join Nathan, Tommy, Abby, and a whole new cast of characters as Nate Rocks once again proves nothing can hold him back in this second book of the Nate Rocks series.
There isn’t much that Nathan Rockledge, aka Nate Rocks, can’t do, as long as it’s on paper or in his imagination. Actually, Nathan is a pretty resourceful young man. Things may not always work out quite as spectacularly as they do in his daydreams but in a pinch Nate really does rock! But can he handle summer camp, No-Neck and worst of all, his older sister, Abby?
In the sequel to Nate Rocks the World, Nathan is taking on a new adventure that is both exciting and pretty darn scary for someone who isn’t particularly fond of being stuck in the woods or being forced to compete against his annoying sister. But from reading book one I knew that Nathan wasn’t a quitter and having his best friend, Tommy, along was going to make this whole ordeal a whole lot of fun to watch. Ms. Toz did not disappoint. I did kinda miss the verbal sparing Nathan had with Lisa from book one but there are plenty of new characters introduced at Camp Spring Ridge to fill in the void.
Readers who enjoy the narrative style of Judy Blume will appreciate the youthful voice that comes through in the dialogue. There aren’t just a whole lot of really good books out for middle grade boys that are written where they can relate to the worries and angst of 8 or 10 year old younger siblings. Something else I think young readers will appreciate is the descriptive details interwoven throughout the story. I had no trouble picturing the camp, the games or the final adventure.
Speaking of the final adventure, I couldn’t have asked for a better ending. Ms. Toz weaves in a “moral to the story” sequence of events that will make parents happy to let their kids read these books.
Nate Rocks the Boat is charming with quite a few laugh-out-loud moments, particularly when Nate drifts off into a daydream and wakes up to a mess. While fans of the Wimpy Kid and Dork Diary series will notice similarities in the character setup, Ms. Toz has penned a unique and clever tale that is sure to entertain young readers as well as the adults who like to follow what their kids read.