Sunday, October 16, 2016

Book Review: Nate the Great Goes Undercover by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Simple mystery that kids will enjoy
Cons: Pictures might be a little dated for adults
The Bottom Line:
Garbage can robber
Nate must find the culprit in
This fun picture book

Nate the Great Tracks the Garbage Thief

When I was the appropriate age for picture books, the only Nate the Great book we knew about the original.  I guess the library didn’t have the others in the series.  However, we discovered the rest with my younger brother, seven years later.  Nate the Great Goes Undercover is actually the second book.  Like most picture books, it usually doesn’t matter, except in this case, we meet two characters who appear in the rest of the series in this book.

Nate is a young detective, and he’s earned quite a reputation in his neighborhood for his good work solving their mysteries.  He also loves pancakes, and he’s recently adopted a stray dog, Sludge, after finding the dog in a field eating a pancake.  It’s a perfect match!

On the morning that our story starts, Nate is taking Sludge for a walk when Oliver, Nate’s next door neighbor, approaches them.  Someone is breaking into Oliver’s garbage cans every night and making a mess, and Oliver wants Nate to solve the case.  Nate’s excited for his first night case, but can he catch the culprit?

As you can see, the case is simple.  Granted, I couldn’t remember who had done it until about half way, but Nate follows a logical trail to reach the conclusion, hitting a couple of dead ends along the way.  He even thinks he’s solved the case early on, but when he learns he is wrong, he goes back to work, letting nothing stand in the way of solving the case.

Actually, the only character who comes back from the first book is Rosamond.  (Well, there are her cats as well.)  She gets a very funny scene.  We meet Oliver and Sludge here, who would go on to appear in most of the rest of the cases Nate solves.  And then there’s Esmeralda.  As far as I remember, this is the only book she appears in, and it is easy to see why – she is too normal and therefore not as funny as the rest of the cast.  She does give Nate a good clue here, however.

Then there’s the humor.  Nate narrates the book in a deadpan Sergeant Friday way that is lots of fun.  I already mentioned that Rosamond’s scene is pretty funny, but there are some other funny situations and reactions as the book progresses.

The illustrations are a bit dated since the book was released in the mid-70’s.  However, I have a feeling that adults will care about this more than kids.  The pictures definitely help tell the story and add to the fun.

Honestly, you can read these books in any order, and kids won’t notice any continuity issues.  So if you haven’t met Nate, pick up Nate the Great Goes Undercover today and enjoy.


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