Sunday, October 4, 2009

Little Toot

Little Toot

Hardie Gramatky, author and illustrator

1939, G.P. Putnam's Sons

Little Toot hated work. He saw no sense in pulling ships fifty times bigger than himself all the way down to the ocean. And he was scared of the wild seas that lay in wait outside the channel, beyond where the harbor empties into the ocean.

A small tugboat who prefers play over work is shamed by the other boats and must prove himself during a storm.

The writing is fine but it's the illustrations that make this a classic. I grew up on a river and the chubby little tugs are the most appealing of boats. Dwarfed by the great tankers and cargo ships, they're chunky workhorses beside the sleek sailboats and yachts. But they look like they'll be here forever, long after the last speedboat has sunk. And Gramatky captures that sturdy, powerful look to perfection, and gives each boat a personality.


A new edition was issued in 2007 by Putnam, which used first editions and original paintings to restore the original's rich color. It is an amazing difference (see here); the copy I was using to write this review was a 1963 edition, and the cover is worlds away from the original or the 2007; the little boat's hat is orange, the background a faded blue-grey.




About the author


A watercolorist with a clear affinity for the water, Gramatky based his famous tugboat on boats he'd watched in New York City's East River. He had been at the Walt Disney Studio in its early days before coming to New York with his wife Dorothea, also an artist.

Much more information is available at the website (check out Yacht Race under Paintings - gorgeous)

Other books

Little Toot series

Little Toot

Little Toot on the Thames

Little Toot on the Grand Canal

Little Toot on the Mississippi

Little Toot through the Golden Gate

Little Toot and the Loch Ness Monster




Homer And The Circus Train


Nikos And The Sea God

Happy's Christmas

Creeper's Jeep