cover image Little Boat

Little Boat

Thomas Docherty, . . Candlewick/Templar, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-4428-4

With good friends and a sense of adventure, even the littlest boat can brave the big, scary unknown—that's the takeaway from this motivational book. Docherty seems more interested in delivering a self-esteem message (“the sea is always changing and full of dangers, but I sail on...”) than in engaging readers. Although Little Boat has very expressive eyes and his wheelhouse has a jaunty tilt, Docherty's compositions, which emphasize the boat's tinyness, prevent readers from making a deeper connection to the hero. His portrayal of the sea, however, makes it a character in its own right, and almost Melvillian—a dynamic force that is by turns violent (striations of red ink add a sinister edge), mythic (its peaks resemble an aquatic mountain range) and exuberant (bubbles surrounding the boat and his friends during a plunge into the deep are appropriately effervescent). The inspirational text and a strong, recurring circular design element give the book a grown-up quality—indeed, it may find its niche as a graduation gift. Also out simultaneously from Docherty: To the Beach . Ages 3–6. (May)