Harbor City: Little Tug

Title: Little Tug
Author/Illustrator: Steven Savage
Pages: 32
Publisher: Neal Porter Press (Macmillan)
Publ. Date: October 2, 2012

On the heels of his 2011 Where's Walrus? (a favorite in our household), Savage offers up a story about the hero of the harbor-world illustrated in his signature retro-graphic style.

When I first saw the cover of Little Tug I was reminded of Little Toot and was actually expecting it to be a rewrite of that classic children's book. Thankfully it is much, much shorter!

It is hard not to glance at the cover and feel a surge of affection for the little tugboat, his cheery red paint color standing out against a backdrop of blues and greys. The plot (such as it is) begins in a predictable fashion: Little Tug helps the various Big Boats enter and dock in the harbor but when Little Tug gets tired out, the roles are reversed and the Big Boats come to his rescue. The text is blissfully sweet and simple and I dare you not to smile and the oh-so-adorable ending, perfect for bedtime.

As in another classic ship book, Harbor, by Donald Crews, the city necessarily remains in the background as Little Tug goes about his business. Savage immediately establishes the urban setting in the opening page spread when the red tug sails solo across the huge, darkened night harbor; the only lights are those twinkling on a long suspension bridge. The city represented is generic, though one would guess that Savage was inspired by New York City, his hometown and the setting of Where's Walrus?. I liked how Savage adds visual interest to the cityscapes by varying its representation: sometimes the buildings are low, other times they are lit up, sometimes darkened. He manages to add a great deal of visual interest into a landscape that at first appears to be quite simple.

Bottom line: this is a great book for toddlers and preschoolers. My three year old loved it and so will yours.

Want More?
Visit Steven Savage's website.
Read the review in the New York Times.
See more of the artwork at the publisher's page.
Watch the book trailer below. I dare you not to smile!


Big Kid says: I want to watch the book trailer.
Little Kid says: He swims!

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