Nate the Great

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Nate the Great is a series of more than two dozen children's detective stories written by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. Alternatively, Nate the Great is the main character and title character of the series, a boy detective. Sharmat and illustrator Marc Simont inaugurated the series in 1972 with Nate the Great, a 60-page book published by Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, and Simont illustrated the first twenty books, to 1998. Some numbers were jointly written with Marjorie's sister Rosalind Weinman,[1] husband Mitchell Sharmat or son Craig Sharmat, and the last six were illustrated by Martha Weston or Jody Wheeler "in the style of Marc Simont". Several of the books have been adapted as television programs, one of which won the Los Angeles International Children's Film Festival Award (Nate the Great Goes Undercover).[when?] The New York Public Library named Nate the Great Saves the King of Sweden (1997, number 19) one of its "100 Titles for Reading and Sharing".[clarification needed]

Nate is a detective, a child version of Sam Spade. He solves crimes with his dog, Sludge, introduced in the second case, Nate the Great goes Undercover (1974). Nate finds him in a field eating a stale pancake. (Both Nate and Sludge love pancakes.)

The character Nate was "inspired" by Nathan Weinman, father of Marjorie Sharmat, who had previously "featured" her mother and sister in a novel.[1] She "named the other characters in the [first] book after" other relatives: Annie, Rosamond, and Harry after mother Anne, sister Rosalind, and uncle Harry.[1] It was the writer's third book published, five years after her first.[2]

Regarding the series Marjorie Sharmat calls husband Mitchell "always my first editor, and it's been a very happy collaboration".[1] Regarding all of their writing, Mitchell Sharmat once told Something About the Author (quoted by Greenville Public Library):[2]

In any project that either of us does, there is always some consultation and advice tossed back and forth between us ... In the case of our official collaborations, the input is equally divided. The physical work is not, however. Because I'm a poor typist and Marjorie is a good one, the burden of putting the words onto the page falls to her. We take turns suggesting ideas and lines.

There are several continuing characters beside Nate and his dog Sludge.

  • Annie, owner of the fierce dog Fang
  • Oliver, described as a pest
  • Rosamond, strange owner of four cats (Super Hex, Big Hex, Plain Hex, and Little Hex)
  • Esmeralda, described as wise
  • Finley and Pip, occasional adversaries

Rosamond is featured in the third episode, Nate the Great and the Lost List (1978). She has long black hair and a short black dress, white mary jane shoes, five black cats of different sizes, and she is frequently described as "strange". In particular, she is introduced thus in the first book: "Rosamond did not look hungry or sleepy. She looked like she always looks. Strange." That text and Simont's illustration allegedly inspired the creation of Emily the Strange.[3][4]

The 2002 volume (number 22) Nate the Great, San Francisco Detective establishes that Nate the Great and the girl detective Olivia Sharp are cousins. She is the heroine of a 1989–1991 series of four books sometimes called Olivia Sharp, Agent for Secrets, written by Marjorie and Mitchell Sharmat and illustrated by Denise Brunkus.


The first twenty volumes were illustrated by Marc Simont.

  1. Nate the Great (1972)
  2. Nate the Great goes Undercover (1974)
  3. Nate the Great and the Lost List (1975)
  4. Nate the Great and the Phony Clue (1977)
  5. Nate the Great and the Sticky Case (1978)
  6. Nate the Great and the Missing Key (1981)
  7. Nate the Great and the Snowy Trail (1983)
  8. Nate the Great and the Fishy Prize (1985)
  9. Nate the Great Stalks Stupidweed (1986)
  10. Nate the Great and the Boring Beach Bag (1987)
  11. Nate the Great Goes Down in the Dumps (1989)
  12. Nate the Great and the Halloween Hunt (1989)
  13. Nate the Great and the Musical Note (1990), written with son Craig Sharmat
  14. Nate the Great and the Stolen Base (1992)
  15. Nate the Great and the Pillowcase (1993), with sister Rosalind Weinman[a]
  16. Nate the Great and the Mushy Valentine (1994)
  17. Nate the Great and the Tardy Tortoise (1995), with Craig Sharmat
  18. Nate the Great and the Crunchy Christmas (1996), with Craig Sharmat
  19. Nate the Great Saves the King of Sweden (1997)
  20. Nate the Great and Me: The Case of the Fleeing Fang (1998)

The latest eight volumes were chapter books "in the style of Marc Simont".

  1. Nate the Great and the Monster Mess (1999), illustrated by Martha Weston†
  2. Nate the Great, San Francisco Detective (1999), with husband Mitchell Sharmat, illus. Weston†
  3. Nate the Great and the Big Sniff (2001), with Mitchell Sharmat, illus. Weston†
  4. Nate the Great on the Owl Express (2003), with Mitchell Sharmat, illus. Weston†
  5. Nate the Great Talks Turkey (2007), with Mitchell Sharmat, illus. Jody Wheeler‡
  6. Nate the Great and the Hungry Book Club (2009), with Mitchell Sharmat, illus. Wheeler‡
  7. Nate the Great, Where Are You? (2015), with Mitchell Sharmat, illus. Wheeler‡
  8. Nate the Great and the Missing Birthday Snake (2018), with Mitchell Sharmat, illus. Wheeler‡
† "illustrations by Martha Weston in the style of Marc Simont"
‡ "illustrations by Jody Wheeler in the style of Marc Simont"

Olivia Sharp[edit]

Olivia Sharp is a girl detective and Nate's cousin. Her four stories were written by the husband-and-wife team Mitchell and Marjorie Sharmat, illustrated by Denise Brunkus, and published by Delacorte Press. The titles are sometimes styled Olivia Sharp: The Pizza Monster, and so on.

  • The Pizza Monster (1989)
  • The Princess of the Fillmore Street School (1989)
  • The Sly Spy (1990)
  • The Green Toenails Gang (1991)

In 2008 and 2009 Ravensburger Buchverlag published German-language editions of the first three Olivia Sharp books with new illustrations by Franziska Harvey. All three titles begin with the name of the German heroine, "Bella Bond", and the 2011 omnibus edition of three stories is Bella Bond – Agentin für Geheimnisse; literally "Agent for Secrets".[5]

Popular culture[edit]

  • Nate the Great is mentioned in a few episodes of Between the Lions.
  • In 2006, PBS and Animagic were developing a 40-episode animated series based on Nate the Great. 6 weeks into production the series was cancelled as an investor pulling out resulted in the animation studio laying off its entire staff.
  • A Nate the Great musical by TheatreworksUSA ran in the 2007–2008 and 2008–2009 seasons.[6]
  • Nate the Great is posited by Doctor Popular to be the inspiration for Emily the Strange.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ According to Henneman (2002), sister Rosalind Weinman "helped pen several titles" in the series.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Henneman, Heidi (2002). "A kid detective who never grows old". 30th anniversary interview of Marjorie Sharmat. BookPage ( Archived 2009-11-05. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
      Published with subtitle "Interview by Heidi Henneman" and numerous quotations, not in interview format.
  2. ^ a b "Picture Books Author of the Month: Marjorie Sharmat". Greenville Public Library (Greenville, RI). n.d. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  3. ^ Hogan, Ron (December 1, 2008). ""Goth Pop Icon" a Children's Book Knockoff?". GalleyCat. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  4. ^ Hull, Tim (June 9, 2009). "Nate the Great v. Emily the Strange in Comic Book Battle". Courthouse News Service. Retrieved 2010-12-03. 
  5. ^ Literature by and about Marjorie Weinman Sharmat in the German National Library catalogue. Retrieved 2014-03-13.
  6. ^ Friedman, Jake (May 24, 2007). "Animagic Lays off Staff". Frederator. Retrieved November 30, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Laughing Squid". Laughing Squid. 

External links[edit]