Nate the Great Series

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
Nate the Great Series Book Poster Image
Nate solves neighborhood mysteries in fun new-reader series.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Nate uses logic to solve his mysteries, which gives readers concrete examples of critical thinking, and the age-appropriate language encourages new readers to stretch their abilities.

Positive Messages

If there's a problem, stick with it and don't give up till you figure out. You can solve a mystery by gathering clues. Friends can help you solve problems. Communication is key: Friends who listen to each other can get things done more easily.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nate is curious, is a good problem-solver, and works hard to solve mysteries big and small. The kids, in their simple friendships, offer a nice reminder that communication is important: Questions are asked and answered, and no one makes accusations.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Marjorie Weinman Sharmat's Nate the Great series is excellent for emerging readers. The mysteries Nate encounters involve everyday things that kids can relate to -- a missing picture, a lost cat, what is eating from the garbage at night -- which can get them thinking about strange happenings in their own lives. The series is for readers almost ready for chapter books, so vocabulary is simple, words are repeated, and sentences are short. If you're sitting down to read Nate the Great with a child, you won't be annoyed by any cloying, mind-numbing text. Nate the Great is simple and formulaic but fun to read.

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What's the story?

In the NATE THE GREAT series, young Nate takes on the most pressing mysteries in his neighborhood. From finding the paper octopus that they use for second base in their baseball game, to a lost cat on Halloween, to a missing cookie recipe, no mystery is too big or too small for Nate and his dog, Sludge, to tackle. Fueled by endless amounts of pancakes, Nate carefully reviews his clues and looks for more before solving the case. At the ends of most books is a collection of quizzes, crafts, projects, riddles, and other bonus material to keep readers interested after the case is solved.

Is it any good?

The mysteries Nate takes on are simple and relevant to kids, but it's the conversations among friends that really shine in this series that understands that simple reading doesn't have to be boring. The writing in the Nate the Great series fits anyone in the "new reader" stage, with short sentences, repetition, and pairing words for contextual clues ("inside/outside," "dumbest/smartest," etc.) 

Nate has an ethnically diverse group of friends, all with different interests and skills, and their conversations as they try to solve the mystery are both serious and slyly funny. The notes Nate writes to his mom explaining that he is on a case are particularly charming.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what kinds of mysteries Nate the Great could solve in their lives. Has something odd happened today, or did you lose something? Let's solve the mystery!

  • What other mystery books do you like to read?

  • Would you ever leave the kind of note Nate leaves for his mom?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mysteries

Themes & Topics

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