cover image Tugboat Bill and the River Rescue

Tugboat Bill and the River Rescue

Calista Brill, illus. by Tad Carpenter. Harper, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-236618-4

A beaming yellow tugboat named Bill and his tried-and-true friend Mabel, a barge, ply the waters of the New York City harbor. They’re happy and hard-working, but they get grief from the big ships nearby (“They are big/ and graceful./ They are fit/ and prime./ They are haughty/ and vain/ almost all of the time.” When a kitten falls from the docks into the water, the big ships cruelly stand by (“as if we would ever,/ ever/ ever/ help”) while Bill and Mabel save the day and become local heroes. With short, eclectic line breaks and occasional rhymes, Brill’s (Little Wing Learns to Fly) narrative has a slightly swaying feel not unlike standing on a ship deck: it takes a little getting used to, but those reading aloud will soon get their sea legs. Carpenter’s (Bitty Bot) doughty, expressive protagonists will instantly remind readers of their own beloved bathtub toys, and his bold graphics and schoolroom palette tip their hat to the legacy of tugboat stories that have come before. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. (Feb.)