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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

Nate the Great Goes Undercover* by Marjorie Weinman has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is part of the "Nate the Great" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Nate the Great is a young detective. He has a dog named Sludge and a fondness for pancakes. Nate’s neighbor, a pesky kid named Oliver, tells Nate his garbage can has been ransacked several nights in a row. Oliver is convinced something or someone has been snatching his trash at night.

Nate takes the case and begins to interview neighborhood kids. He runs into Rosamond, who often acts strangely and owns a number of cats. When he questions her about the trash, she begins to list each of the 2,000 things she would rather eat than garbage. She keeps talking, and Nate moves on.

He questions a girl named Esmeralda, who says she would never go near something that belonged to Oliver. That gives Nate an important clue. He determines no person wants to go near the annoying boy or his garbage. Therefore, the culprit must not be human.

Nate goes to the library to research night birds called Strigiformes and Caprimulgiformes. He also reads about cats, bats, rats, mice, shrews, skunks, raccoons, possums and moles. Since Nate wants to watch Oliver’s trash can at night, he leaves his mother a note saying he’s sleeping out. He hunts around the trash can and even craws inside. Eventually, he runs into a skunk and gets sprayed. He leaves Oliver a note telling him to put mothballs in his trash to keep the skunk away. Then Nate spends a long time in the bath.

The next day, Nate visits Oliver. Despite the mothballs, the trash has been knocked over again. Nate leaves his mother another note saying he’s sleeping next door. He hides in the trash can once again and comes face to face with his own dog, Sludge. He realizes Sludge must have been tired of the pancakes he’d been getting for snacks. Nate goes home, gives Sludge a crunchy bone and rests on his couch.

Following the story, the book provides fun, informational pages about the nocturnal animals Nate researched. It also includes dog jokes, recipes for hamburgers and homemade ice cream, and the formula for the perfect bath.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Nate leaves notes for his mother, but she is never seen or heard in the story.





Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

6 to 9


Marjorie Weinman Sharmat






Record Label



Yearling, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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