Graphically spiffy and textually brief, this exploration of an anthropomorphic harbor tugboat’s working role tacks on a maudlin shtick in the final quarter.
Savage’s crisp pictures clearly compare Little Tug’s height, speed and length to those of a tall ship, a speedboat and an ocean liner. Despite these obvious shortcomings, Tug helps all three maneuver safely when needed. Young children will likewise navigate through the broadly stylized images of city skyline, water reflections and ships, some of which sport eyes and mouths. An odd divergence, however, appears with the line “What happens when Little Tug tires out?” The story shifts from fact-based narrative to coy bedtime riff, ending with Little Tug being tucked in with a sail from the tall ship, soothed with the speedboat motor’s lullaby and receiving, from the big ocean liner, “a great big— / hug.”
Though this cute-but-mighty tug’s strengths are oddly undercut by the syrupy gear-switch at the end, the bright, attractive pictures will appeal to boat-loving toddlers. (Picture book. 2-4)