Tugga Tugga Tug Boat

By Kevin Lewis
Illustrations by Daniel Kirk
Hyperion, 2006
Tugga Tugga


Book Description

Daniel Kirk and Kevin Lewis have joined forces again with this book about bath time play and the power of the imagination. As a companion piece to Lewis and Kirk’s Chugga Chugga Choo Choo, their book Tugga Tugga Tug Boat is about life in the world of toys. A simple rhyming text follows the adventures of a tugboat on its busy day, moving barges, putting out fires and getting freighters to their destination. As the book progresses, we see that all the excitement is just part of bath time fun!

Reviews of Tugga Tugga Tug Boat

Review from Publishers Weekly
In its title and subject matter, this book recalls this team’s Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo. With a “Toot! Toot!” a spunky little tugboat shows how it’s the hero of the harbor, whether helping the big ships (“Giant tanker needs a nudge. / Propeller spin…/ But will it budge? / Tugga-tugga tugboat. / Grab and guide and float, boat”) or putting out fires (“Tugga-tugga tugboat. / Splash and spray and float, boat”). The action is even more fun because readers quickly realize that the harbor is not quite what it seems. The cargo on the wharf looks a lot like bars of soap; the ducks appear to be more of the rubber than the feather variety; and the ocean is positively bubbly. The final pages reveal why: the tug’s hard work has been the fantasy play of a boy in a bubble bath. Although the portrait of the human hero pales next to the toys, the early scenes find Kirk in top form. The smooth, bright surfaces and chunky objects will remind readers of their own toys, while the dramatic, dynamic perspectives exude just the right amount of brought-to-life magic. Ages 2-5. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Review from School Library Journal
PreS-K-In a book similar to their Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo (Hyperion, 1999), Lewis and Kirk combine rhythmic text, descriptive language, and colorful pseudo-realistic artwork to depict the adventures of a toy tugboat. From early morning (“Cast off! /Anchor’s aweigh. /Aye, aye, Captain. /Busy day!”) to evening (“Day is over. Moon shines bright. /Engine rumbles through the night”), the hardworking vessel scoots, splashes, pushes, and pulls through a busy day. Youngsters will appreciate the rhyming text and quickly learn the refrain, which changes slightly with each verse. Illustrations in bright primary colors and geometrical shapes match the playful verse. The toy like quality of the boats, cargo, and crew becomes more apparent with each page, so it is no surprise when the bathtub setting is revealed. In the end, a smiling, freshly washed, pajama-clad youngster is taken off to bed, while his still-dripping playthings rest contentedly at tub’s edge. The simplicity of both narrative and pictures makes this story a strong choice for children. -Carolyn Janssen, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Review from Kirkus Reviews
Whatever it is, tugboats have it, some mojo that gives them an aura of joyfulness. Kirk’s tug is a good example of the breed. As the boat goes about its busyness, it gradually grows a big smile on its bow. “Scoot! Scoot! Toot! Toot!” Lewis’s text is simple and lively, the kind one could just as easily sing as read out loud, and it’s full of punchy rhymes: “Tugga-tugga tugboat. Bounce and bob and float, boat.” Crayon-bright colors spread sunshine all over the double-page spreads as the tugboat chugs along beside a giant tanker, sea gulls flying overhead. But somewhere there’s a slight shift in perspective, and little hints dropped in the illustrations-What are those big bars of soap doing on the wharf? What about the rubber ducky? -suggest that maybe this tugboat’s harbor is a bathtub. And sure enough, “Day is over. Moon shines bright.” It must be bedtime. A perfect ending to a perfect voyage. (Picture book. 2-5)

Daniel Kirk speaks about Tugga Tugga Tug Boat
I spent a lot of time watching tugboats on the East River and the Hudson River in New York City, while researching this book.
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I’d never realized before how cute these little boats are! They really have a lot of personality. My wife and I had our wedding party on a fishing boat on the East River, so I always have a soft spot in my heart for boats and a life at sea! My idea in Tugga Tugga Tug Boat was to start the book by showing real tug boats, and by the end, give the impression that we were just pretending the boats were real, and that we’re having fun in the tub with our toys. Gradually I add bath-time elements into the picture—bars of soap, rubber duckies, and little toy figures. As bath time ends, the fantasy ends, too, and we are left with our toys dripping wet on the edge of the tub. I tried a similar approach in my book Block City, but in that one, I started with real life and then went into the fantasy play. I am trying to do something as an artist that may or may not be obvious to the little kids, but their parents, certainly, will understand! The hardest thing about illustrating this book was in getting the water to look right. Water is hard to paint—you can see through it, sometimes, and other times it looks solid. Also, the color of water keeps changing, depending on what is around it.[/expand]

Things to think about and do after you have read Tugga Tugga Tug Boat
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  1. There are many ways to make vehicles look cute and personable. The most common way is to put a face on the front of the vehicle. I’m sure you’ve seen airplanes, trucks, cars, trains and boats with faces on them, on TV cartoons or in books. Try drawing a vehicle of your own, then put a face on the front of it. Is it a happy face? An angry face? A sad face? Why would vehicles feel emotions? If you think about it, you might come up with a story all your own.
  2. Think about the toys you’ve loved playing with. Which toys, or kind of toys, make you get lost in a fantasy world where you forget about real life? Whether it’s dolls, action figures or soldiers, stuffed animals or vehicles, most kids have memories of the ways that playtime can seem more real than reality. When I was little, I did this with toy dinosaurs, pirates, monsters and soldiers. My toys had battles and adventures that kept me busy for hours, and hours. Ask your friends which toys make them feel excited and creative. Similar kinds of fantasy play may be part of the reason you have the friends you do!

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