cover image Little Tug

Little Tug

Stephen Savage. Roaring Brook/Porter, $12.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59643-648-0

Echoes of Hardie Gramatky’s 1939 Little Toot can be seen in the pages of this tugboat tale by Savage (Where’s Walrus?). But while Gramatky’s tale chronicled a feckless junior tugboat’s relationships with the ships in New York’s waterways and concluded with his heroic redemption, Savage’s book depicts Little Tug as beloved and helpful from the start. The story has the tempo of a waltz, as readers meet three other ships (a sailboat, a speedboat, and an ocean liner), each of which get into trouble of a sort, and are rescued in turn by Little Tug. “He’s not the biggest boat in the harbor. But when the tall ship is still, and the speedboat’s motor breaks down, and the big ocean liner can’t fit into the harbor, he pulls, he pushes, and guides the boats to safety.” The crisp stencil-style art, in high-contrast industrial blue-grays with brick-red highlights and grainy shading, maintains an even keel. Savage dispenses the action in mild, reassuring doses, shifting from the tugboat’s rescue efforts to a soothing nautical bedtime. Readers who love ships can expect smooth sailing. Ages 2–6. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Oct.)