TUGBOATS

Children will be delighted by the full-color photographs of many different tugboats—``the best-known and best-loved workboats of the water''—in this work from Maass (When Winter Comes, 1993, etc.). It's an eye-opening introduction to these naval workhorses with spreads of tugs hauling cargo, pushing barges, and breaking ice. Numerous shots of crews working on deck, tending the engine, and cooking dinner add a human dimension, albeit an exclusively male one. Still, Maass's explanation of such terms as headline, wheelhouse, and docking pilot should make preschoolers feel as salty as Popeye, and eager to hoist anchor. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8050-3116-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Not exactly first-class travel.

PEACE TRAIN

Climb aboard, with this visual interpretation of the classic 1971 song.

The lyrics of Stevens’ song are the catalyst for this colorful picture book, which depicts a golden-hued train with a plume of psychedelic smoke initially traveling across an unknown and barren landscape. As the train chugs along, a tan-skinned, purple-haired guitar player makes their way to the train and travels with it, sometimes riding, sometimes walking alongside it, as it picks up a racially and ethnically diverse group of passengers. Reynolds’ cartoon illustrations are characteristically bold, the flower-power symbols in the smoke making a cheery if sometimes hard-to-distinguish clutter. As with many songs-cum–picture books, some of the lyrics defy visual interpretation. “Everyone jump up on the Peace Train” is nicely imagined with a cat leaping into the arms of the guitar-playing protagonist, but Reynolds’ accompaniment to the stanza that begins “Now, come and join the living” simply frames it in a close-up of symbolic smoke. In visual answer to “Why must we go on hating? / Why can’t we live in bliss?” the guitar player lays musical notes over a scary hole in the tracks that represents “the world as it is.” The train safely passes, but it all seems awfully easy. Musically inclined caregivers who feel confident belting out the lyrics may find this a useful title for peace-themed storytimes, but the overall depictions of peace and unity feel superficial at best.

Not exactly first-class travel. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-305399-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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