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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Chugga Tugga Tugboat by Sally Sutton, illustrator Sarah Wilkins

Chugga Tugga Tugboat is a beautiful BIG book bursting with energy. At around 30 by 23 cm it’s not quite life-size although it almost feels that way.

The young child who’s the star of the book longs for the tugboat (and its captain) to come and play with them, but the captain is too busy guiding ships into the harbour, carrying out rescues, fire-fighting, and finally winning a tugboat race. Meanwhile at home the child happily recreates the tugboat’s action-packed day using props from their toy basket.

At last, the tugboat turns towards home. The captain and her child are reunited just in time for a gloriously splashy bath with more wet and wild water-play!

Illustrator Sarah Wilkins and author Sally Sutton previously teamed up to create the excellent Crane Guy book, which has a similar look and feel. In Chugga Tugga Tugboat Wilkins’s illustrations are again a perfect match for Sutton’s words. I love the detail in the images, such as the workers’ tiny hand-held communication devices, ear muffs, and high-vis vests. Look closely at the cruise ship and see if you can spot a passenger holding a book at arm’s length, a sun hat being swept away in the breeze, and a couple posing for a selfie. There’s a wonderful balance of work and play throughout the book, ranging from the hard-working Mum to the happy seagull swooping towards a joyful rubber duck.

Wilkins lives in a harbour city and says that she has always been fascinated by the powerful tugboats guiding the big ships to port. Sutton’s text is fun to read aloud – especially the recurring “Splish splosh, wish wash, TOOT, TOOT, TOOT!”

The book is aimed at the 2-6-year age group; anyone reading it to them will enjoy it, too.

Reviewer: Anne Kerslake Hendricks



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