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Toy Boat Board book – May 15, 2014

4.8 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A boy's handmade toy boat plays the metaphorical role of a child longing for independence in de Seve's auspicious first picture book. The text begins in simple language that lightly implies a parent/child bond: "The boy loved the boat, and they were never apart. They bathed together. They slept together." Every day the boy sails the boat in the lake, holding onto it with a string. Usually the boat feels content, but occasionally the sight of big boats awakens its curiosity about "what it would feel like to sail free." A sudden change in the weather occasions the toy boat's premature adventure out of the boy's protective grasp, described in suspenseful text and acrylics that imaginatively extend de Seve's story. Long (the re-illustrated Little Engine that Could) shrewdly illustrates no persons other than David, even though David's mother plays a pivotal part. Rather, the toy boat has a face (readers should look carefully at the cork holding its mast) and, as it encounters the big boats at last, each wears its own visible personality. A giant ferry occupying most of a spread bears down on the toy boat, its windows, decks and trimmings shaped into an enraged visage, complete with glaring eyes and pursed lips; the toy boat shrinks dramatically in the wake of a huge speedboat depicted as a flame-colored shark. Not until the reassuring conclusion can the toy boat again be seen from the boy's perspective. A resonant tale with wide appeal. Ages 2-up.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 1—A boy loves his toy boat and he takes it everywhere, keeping it close on a string near open water. When he drops the string and the toy is carried far out on the lake, it faces the perils of high waves, stormy skies, and large, mean-spirited vessels. The small boat, near sinking, sail heavy with water, misses the child terribly and floats aimlessly all night, lonely and frightened. (Even the moon is shown weeping at such a pathetic plight.) Finally the next day, "a humble little fishing boat" takes pity on the little boat since "it knew how it felt to be pushed around on the lake." It guides the toy toward shore—and for a few moments the little boat feels the joy of freedom, wind in its sail. Then the boy sees it and the boat is home again. Now, the boy occasionally lets the string go when they are by the lake since the boat knows to come back. This story of freedom and its perils has the potential to be unsettling for a young audience. The cruel eyes of the giant ferry bearing down on the small boat and the painted sharklike teeth on the side of the speedboat with its "screaming" motor can easily be construed as menacing and can send a negative instead of heartening message. Only near the end, on the spread where the little boat is sailing, does the acrylic art show the pleasure of the open sky and freedom at the prow. This book has limited child appeal.—Susan Moorhead, New Rochelle Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Board book: 30 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel Books; Brdbk edition (May 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399167978
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399167973
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Cynthia Kremsner on March 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Toy Boat is a simple story enhanced wonderfully by the vibrant illustrations of Loren Long.

My son loved the tale of the boat and was intrigued when it was lost in the churning waters with the big boats. He also loved the conclusion, when the boat returns to the open hands and heart of his young boy. The illustrations take this story to a much higher level. Together, the text and artwork make for pure enchantment.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a truly wonderful story. My son received this when he was two years old, a year later and we are STILL reading this book at least once a day. My son is a very active boy but will always sit down and read this book. I'm purchasing two additional copies - one to save for when he's older and another because the first copy has been read so many times its quite worn!

A must for every little boy!!!
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Format: Hardcover
My son (who is 4) loves this story. The illustrations are gorgeous. The story about a toy's journey back home to his boy struck a chord with us.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The boy builds a boat himself, out of bits and pieces any boy should have available. The boat has adventures, some scary, but ends up back with the boy who allows him to keep having adventures. I like the message. The language is straightforward and the illustrations vivid, with nice movement and color. All in all a good present for a child in a sailing family, like the one who received it from me.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book for my little boy for his first christmas. I remember reading somewhere that it was considered the Velveteen Rabbit for little boys. I LOVED the Velveteen Rabbit, so of course needed to get this book for my little boy. He's now 2 1/2 and loves having me read stories to him. Every night he asks me to read this book to him. "Toy Boat" he requests again and again. It is a sweet story. Having a husband who grew up sailing, it has special meaning to us as one day I hope that my son grows up and enjoys the water and wonderment of sailing too.
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The artwork in this book is amazing, but is it just me or is this storyline a bit strange? It goes like this: There's a boy who loves his toy boat. One windy day, the boy loses control of the boat because of his mother, and the boat drifts out into the lake where it encounters lots of other boats that are inconsiderate and unconcerned. The toy boat eventually encounters one kind boat that helps it get back to shore where the boy is waiting. And now that the little boat knows what's out there on the big, bad lake, (mean boats), it would rather stay in the shallows close to the little boy. So what's the moral here? Personally, I think this book sends the wrong message to a child. It is neither inspiring nor encouraging, and in my opinion, a little sappy. I love books that encourage exploration and paint a more positive and optimistic view of the world that is awaiting my children, (even if that is overly-hopeful). If you feel the same, try Oh the Places You'll Go or The Snail and the Whale. Go and explore, kids! Nothing ventured, nothing gained ...
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I bought this book to put on a shelf for décor in my son's nursery and not knowing to much about the storyline, but it's one of my kids' favorites. My 1 year old loves the "move along!" parts and my almost 4 year old loves the story. The illustrations are gorgeous and hold the interest of both my children.
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By CB on February 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
What a DELIGHTFUL book with CLEVER, captivating illustrations. The storyline on it's face is simplistic, but can quite instructive. A quick skim may only leave you with the sappy story of a lost boat who is helped to return to his friend, the boy. However, multiple readings unveils the real world story of how the toy boat(representing kids) wishes to enter out into the real waters (the world) but *many* of the boats (people) will prove to be unfriendly; yet, some WILL be kind and helpful, and not ask anything in return."

It left me with all kinds of wisdom to instill in my sons, like:
"Not everyone is friendly, but it's the caring, kind, and helpful people you should focus your attention on."
"It's okay to want to return home when you're afraid. Our home is your safe refuge."
"Son, you ARE mighty, and will survive the storms of life -- NO MATTER your size."
"Sometimes you can be like the rusty tug-boat, and just help someone because you should, and not need to 'showboat' your help."

SIDE NOTE: The 'professional' review (below the book's description) by Susan Moorhead, New Rochelle Public Library, NY) states, "This book has limited child appeal." Wow, she couldn't be more wrong, and must not have read it to a preschool-aged boy before reviewing it :-P
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