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Tough Tug

Tough Tug

Author: Margaret Read MacDonald
Illustrator: Rob McClaren

Little Tough Tug takes his first long haul to Alaska and saves a friend tug in distress. Lively chanting text chugs tug along his way.

Type Year Publisher Price Length   ISBN
Hardcover  2017  Two Lions, Amazon    32p   

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"Tough Tug sends positive messages about responsibility and helping others. Repeated phrases on each spread – Slide and Splash, Swirld and Twirl – get exaggerated font sizes and and lend a fun rhythm to storytelling. The digital illustrations personify the boats, giving them wide eyes and facial features, like eyepatches and mustaches. Kids who love movies like Cars will enjoy this fun add to vehicle/transportation picture books. Get your readers up and moving to this story like you would for Helen Oxenbury’s classic, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: swirling and splashing, painting and priming, using their arms and legs to wade through the story. "  ...momreadlit blog

"A tugboat's size and might are easy to anthropomorphize; add this personified puffer to the mix. Tough Tug is built near Seattle, made of strong steel welded together and adorned with a fresh coat of bright red paint. Wide googly eyes and a determined smile complete the look. On launch day, Tough Tug triumphantly flashes forward and backward, twirling and swirling through the water. Older tugboats (distinguished variously by mustaches, glasses, and eye patches) grumble at the youngster's bravado. "Push and pull is what tugs do. Practice THAT." Tough Tug's first job is to tow a barge to Alaska. Rhythmic mantras churn across the surface of the water in bold navy letters: "Ready, steady. / Steady, ready. // Chug and tug. / Tug and chug." But Tough Tug is overeager and challenges Arctic Tug to a race. The thrum changes to "Race and run! / Run and race!" Arctic Tug is first to Sitka, but while crossing the open ocean to Anchorage, the older tug gets into trouble. It's Tough Tug to the rescue! McClurkan's digital paintings look quite modern, but there is a feel to his foamy waves that recalls the mid-20th-century harbor of Little Toot. The anthropomorphized boats have plenty of personality, and readers who study the expressions on the container ships will be rewarded. An author's note explains this was inspired by a true story of one tug rescuing another boat from a competing tugboat company. A brassy, assertive fellow—young readers in the middle of their own power struggles will relate. (Picture book. 3-6) "  ...Kirkus Jan 15, 2018

"Tough Tug is a brand-new boat. He likes to swirl and twirl—and run and race. He wants everyone to see what he can do. But when he sails to Alaska for the first time, he finds out what being a tug really means… "  ...Chldren's Book Council Feb 2018

" Tough Tug is a spirited young tugboat who's just getting the hang of all he can do in and around the port. Picture a 3-year-old jubilantly running around in a new, unexplored place, swerving this way and that, jutting all about as she explores the space on her own two feet. Tug does all of this merrily (much to the chagrin of the other tugboats) and is eager to show what he can do with his first assignment. Accompanying another older tug, Tough Tug soon faces rough waters and a threatening storm. And what's worse... Tug notices the distress signal of his mentor off in the distance and must decide what to do. The story's pared down story is embellished with pairs of words capturing Tough Tug's restless movement . SWISH and SWOOSH! TUG and PULL! SWERVE and SWIRL! And all of these words help contrast Tough Tug from the older tugboats. We all really loved Rob's mustachioed older tugboats (especially the one with the great big walrus mustache) and there was something about the way that Rob brought these boats to life that felt different from other books with anthropomorphized boats. And, quite frankly, felt exactly right in that way that I can see my kids drawing boats with eyes and mustaches just like this in the future. The book conclude with a note that the story was inspired by a real event! And one quick google search will send you down a rabbit whole of heroic tugboat crews making headlines. Very cool!"  ...Matthew C Winner

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