|Image from BarnesandNoble.com|
The small tugboat in this story is just a speck in the big ocean. The little boat may encounter dangerous obstacles, terrible thunderstorms, and enormous sea monsters, but it continues on bravely searching for its sea creature friends. Nothing banishes the unknown and scary elements like a group of good friends. They playfully race around the ocean and never want to stop. In the company of friends, no ocean is too big for this little boat.
The story isn’t particularly complex and the text reads more like a life philosophy than a narrative. Docherty’s text is extremely concise and simple, with just a few well-chosen words per page. The illustrations are really the star of the book. Gender neutral little boat is an endearing protagonist, with a small puffing smoke stack and large, expressive eyes. The boat's friends, a school of fish, some porpoises, an octopus, and a large whale, are full of playful joy. The ocean seems to be a character of its own and Docherty deftly captures the many moods of the water, from lapping, clear blue waves to churning stormy water to the dark blue of the depths of the ocean.
Use this book for a boat themed storytime and pair with it Boats:Speeding! Sailing! Cruising! or Jonathan’s Big Blue Boat. Fill the bathtub or a kiddie pool with water and make some boats. Try making simple origami boats, sponge boats or wine cork boats.
While you’ve got the tub or pool filled, use the opportunity to talk about floating and sinking. Grab an assortment of objects and see if they sink or float in the water. Make a chart on the whiteboard or give kids a chart to fill out on their own of their prediction and the outcome of each experiment. After you complete your experiments, look at all the objects that sunk, what do they have in common? How about the ones that floated?
Check out Thomas Docherty’s beautifully designed website to see some of the illustrations from the book. On a side note - Docherty is British, so many of his books have not been published in the U.S.