A little tugboat carries out some big jobs around New York Harbor.
From one page to the next, the eponymous, anthropomorphic tugboat, which is assigned feminine pronouns, guides various watercraft to safe harbor. Throughout, Mottram’s digitally arranged watercolor-and-gouache illustrations outshine the rhyming text, which includes several awkward near rhymes and various problems with cadence that will pose challenges during read-alouds. The pictures have a vintage feel that harkens back to Hardie Gramatky’s Little Toot, right down to the simple lines and dots used to render the boats’ facial expressions. While more a catalog of watercraft that the tugboat helps than a story with a compelling beginning, middle, and end, the text begins at daybreak and concludes at nighttime, lending it a basic sense of structure. The final boat the tugboat helps is a fireboat that aids another boat with a small fire, and this lends some drama to the otherwise quiet text.
A visual treat for boat-loving readers, albeit one with some leaks in the text. (Picture book. 2-5)