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Boats: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about boats?

Do you have a little boat lover on your hands? From tug boats, to row boats, to speed boats, to steamers, lucky for you, there seems to be a children’s book about it, because what better mode of transportation is there for daring rescues, brave adventuring and valiant journeys home? We hope you enjoy these books about boats as much as we do!

Top 10 Books About Boats

#1
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Ahoy, Li'l Buccaneers!
Written by Mark Iacolina
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4
Buccaneers sail. Buccaneers steer. Buccaneers grumble, snarl, and sneer. Hardy har har! Calling all Li'l Buccaneers to set sail on a fun adventure, filled with dancing, singing, sparring, and treasure hunting. Young swashbucklers and their pirate pals are guaranteed a mighty good time with this delightfully rip-roaring, rhyming board book.
#2
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The Star Thief
Written by Lindsey Becker
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
The constellations come to life in this imaginative fantasy adventure debut. Honorine's life as a maid at the Vidalia mansion is rather dull, dusting treasures from faraway places and daydreaming in front of maps of the world. But everything changes when she catches two brutish sailors ransacking Lord Vidalia's study, and then follows a mysterious girl with wings out into the night.... Suddenly, Honorine is whisked into the middle of a battle between the crew of a spectacular steamship and a band of mythical constellations. The stars in the sky have come to life to defend themselves against those who want to harness their powers. Much to her surprise, Honorine is the crux of it all, the center of an epic clash between magic and science, the old ways and the new. But can this spirited young girl bring both sides of a larger-than-life fight together before they unleash an evil power even older than the stars?
#3
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The Circus Ship
Written & illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
After courageously swimming to shore when the ship that they are traveling on sinks and the wretched captain does nothing to rescue them, circus animals find a way to become a valued part of a coastal community.
#4
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Sheep on a Ship
Written by Nancy Shaw & illustrated by Margot Apple
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
I love this series! The rhymes are clever and I appreciate the addition of some less common vocabulary ("Sheep collide!"), and of course the illustrations are dynamic and humorous! It's such a quick, fun read-aloud, with tons of details to appreciate
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Captain Small goes sailing, fishes from his boat, goes for an unexpected swim, and braves a storm on the way home.
#5
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Charlie's Boat
Written & illustrated by Kit Chase
Thoughts from Mr. Staccato
I love these books by Kit Chase. The illustrations are beautiful and the stories are straightforward and simple. A cute story about friends being inclusive and helping each other out.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Best friends really are the best when they use their imaginations to help each other. Charlie, Oliver, and Lulu love to play outside together. One fine day they all go fishing, but Charlie doesn’t have much fun—all he can catch are sticks. Next, they build little boats and have a race, but, once again, things don’t go very well. Charlie’s boat comes in last. Things seem pretty gloomy until Oliver comes up with a plan. They build a special boat they can all play on, together! Kit Chase offers a sweet ode to friendship in this tale of three best friends who can count on each other to always make play time fun.
#6
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Where Do Speedboats Sleep at Night?
Written by Brianna Caplan Sayres & illustrated by Christian Slade
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Illustrations and rhyming text reveal what sailboats, cruise ships, canoes, and other vessels do to get ready for bed after a hard day's work.
#7
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Toy Boat
Written by Randall de Seve & illustrated by Loren Long and Randall de Seve
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
This book is gorgeously illustrated and is simultaneously a fun "boat book"—showcasing lots of different kinds of boats with some of their attributes—while also conveying a much deeper and more moving message about independence, letting go, and a deep friendship. This really resonated with me in terms of a parent-child relationship, and how that bond can be strengthened if you let go a little but remain a safe place to always return to.
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2
A toy boat gets separated from its owner and has an adventure on the high seas.
#8
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Little Pig Saves the Ship
Written & illustrated by David Hyde Costello
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
It's hard to be the littlest, but when Little Pig's siblings all go off to sailing camp and he feels like he's missing out, his oldest brother and his grandpa do a great job of making sure Little Pig gets to be a little involved too. I appreciated the sweet and strong family relationships, the quality time they spend together and the realization Little Pig has that even though he's little, he still has something to contribute. The illustrations are sweet as well!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Little Pig is back in Little Pig Saves the Ship! When the sea-faring pigs go a-sailing! Intrepid Little Pig — still the littlest pig in the family — is too little to go to summer camp with his older brothers and sisters. He is left behind with Grandpa and Poppy. Little Pig and Poppy make and sail a toy ship all week, but on Saturday a gusty wind takes the ship into the current, and Little Pig has to use his newfound knot-tying skills to save the day. A sweetly told intergenerational story about how even the littlest can make a big difference.
#9
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The Red Boat
Written & illustrated by Hannah Cumming
Thoughts from Readerly Mom
This would be a great book to read with a child who is moving to a new house or starting a new school. Its simple story and cute illustrations would help facilitate a discussion about how it's okay to be nervous in a new situation, and it's okay to rely on friends and things that are familiar, but it's also wonderful to get to know new friends. I also love the idea that having an active imagination can be a great tool for dealing with things that make us nervous!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Posy is afraid of her new house and all the unknown that comes with it, but when she and her dog find a red boat in the garden, she imagines all kinds of adventures and gains confidence despite being the new kid.
#10
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Harry and the Jaggedy Daggers
Written & illustrated by Jan Fearnley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Harry and the Jaggedy Daggers The first charming instalment of the Bottlenose Bay series from award-winning author/illustrator Jan Fearnley. Harry the harbour mouse is heartbroken when his boat is dashed and smashed on the dangerous, mean old rocks - the terrible Jaggedy Daggers! But just as the sea brings mischief, it brings surprises too . . . A story about being brave. Even if you are very small and have only a teacup and a rusty teaspoon. Jan Fearnley is the best-selling author of Mr Wolf’s Pancakes and Arthur and the Meanies. Her beautifully crafted picture books are terrific for sharing and make for popular bedtime stories.
Table of Contents
Scroll to books about Boats and...

Books About Boats and Action And Adventure

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Ahoy, Li'l Buccaneers!
Written by Mark Iacolina
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4
Buccaneers sail. Buccaneers steer. Buccaneers grumble, snarl, and sneer. Hardy har har! Calling all Li'l Buccaneers to set sail on a fun adventure, filled with dancing, singing, sparring, and treasure hunting. Young swashbucklers and their pirate pals are guaranteed a mighty good time with this delightfully rip-roaring, rhyming board book.
Add to list
The Star Thief
Written by Lindsey Becker
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
The constellations come to life in this imaginative fantasy adventure debut. Honorine's life as a maid at the Vidalia mansion is rather dull, dusting treasures from faraway places and daydreaming in front of maps of the world. But everything changes when she catches two brutish sailors ransacking Lord Vidalia's study, and then follows a mysterious girl with wings out into the night.... Suddenly, Honorine is whisked into the middle of a battle between the crew of a spectacular steamship and a band of mythical constellations. The stars in the sky have come to life to defend themselves against those who want to harness their powers. Much to her surprise, Honorine is the crux of it all, the center of an epic clash between magic and science, the old ways and the new. But can this spirited young girl bring both sides of a larger-than-life fight together before they unleash an evil power even older than the stars?
Add to list
Sheep on a Ship
Written by Nancy Shaw & illustrated by Margot Apple
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
I love this series! The rhymes are clever and I appreciate the addition of some less common vocabulary ("Sheep collide!"), and of course the illustrations are dynamic and humorous! It's such a quick, fun read-aloud, with tons of details to appreciate
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Captain Small goes sailing, fishes from his boat, goes for an unexpected swim, and braves a storm on the way home.
Honorable Mentions
Little Boat book
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Pirates Don't Drive Diggers book
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The Wreck of the Zephyr book
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  1. Little Boat - When you’re small and on the go, there’s a lot to watch out for: big boats, waves, rain clouds, and more! But Little Boat can handle whatever comes his way, braving the elements and the unexpected with his initiative, confidence, and positive attitude. This colorful follow-up to Little Truck by beloved author-illustrator Taro Gomi will entertain toddlers sailing toward big adventures!

  2. Pirates Don't Drive Diggers - Digger-mad Brad is not cut out for a pirate’s life, instead he dreams of life on a building site. When the Salty Dog sets sail, can he prove to Captain Blood that pirates do drive diggers after all? A rip-roaring rhyming pirate tale for those digger-loving scallywags out there!

  3. The Wreck of the Zephyr - At the edge of a cliff lies the wreck of a small sailboat. How did it get there? “Waves carried it up in a storm,” says an old sailor. But is it possible that waves could ever get that high? There is another story — the story of a boy and his obsessive desire to be the greatest sailor, the story of a storm that carried the boy and his boat to a place where boats glide like gulls high above the water and not upon it. Chris Van Allsburg tells that story of the boy and his boat, the Zephyr, in words and haunting, full-color pastel paintings. His sailboats sail the night sky with the stars in pictures so vivid that the reader can almost hear the wind in the sails. Here is a work of unusual artistry that will enchant readers of all ages for many years to come.

Books About Boats and Imagination And Play

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Charlie's Boat
Written & illustrated by Kit Chase
Thoughts from Mr. Staccato
I love these books by Kit Chase. The illustrations are beautiful and the stories are straightforward and simple. A cute story about friends being inclusive and helping each other out.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Best friends really are the best when they use their imaginations to help each other. Charlie, Oliver, and Lulu love to play outside together. One fine day they all go fishing, but Charlie doesn’t have much fun—all he can catch are sticks. Next, they build little boats and have a race, but, once again, things don’t go very well. Charlie’s boat comes in last. Things seem pretty gloomy until Oliver comes up with a plan. They build a special boat they can all play on, together! Kit Chase offers a sweet ode to friendship in this tale of three best friends who can count on each other to always make play time fun.
Add to list
The Red Boat
Written & illustrated by Hannah Cumming
Thoughts from Readerly Mom
This would be a great book to read with a child who is moving to a new house or starting a new school. Its simple story and cute illustrations would help facilitate a discussion about how it's okay to be nervous in a new situation, and it's okay to rely on friends and things that are familiar, but it's also wonderful to get to know new friends. I also love the idea that having an active imagination can be a great tool for dealing with things that make us nervous!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Posy is afraid of her new house and all the unknown that comes with it, but when she and her dog find a red boat in the garden, she imagines all kinds of adventures and gains confidence despite being the new kid.
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Peter Hops Aboard: A Peter Rabbit Tale
Written by Beatrix Potter
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
A fun, summery Peter Rabbit board book about a day at the pond. It's a sunny afternoon and the Rabbit family are having a picnic. The pond is sparkling in the sunshine and Peter wants to build a raft - all by himself. He soon finds it's quite tricky without some help. Luckily his sisters are there to lend him a hand. This fun summer tale has a positive message about learning to ask for help. Eleanor Taylor's charming illustrations of Beatrix Potter's well-loved characters mirror young reader's early experiences.
Honorable Mentions
Float book
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After the Rain book
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Bobo the Sailor Man! book
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The Real Boat book
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  1. Float - “Wordless picture book about a boy who loses his paper boat in the rain”—

  2. After the Rain - Drip, Drop, Plink. The rain stops, and Levi runs outside to play in a stream of rain water. But Polly puts an end to his fun when she doesn’t want to share. It’s a puddle fight! Until they see that the water is disappearing fast. Truce! They find a way to save the water and discover that it is more fun to play together. After the Rain puts a new twist on the rainy-day picture book about sharing and learning to work together.

  3. Bobo the Sailor Man! - Willie finds all sorts of interesting things while he and Bobo the stuffed monkey are exploring, including a bucket that would be a perfect boat for Bobo, but before he knows it, Bobo and the “boat” have disappeared.

  4. The Real Boat - When a paper boat learns about the ocean, he is determined to go there so he can be a real boat. On his journey he meets all sorts of friends, from the strong little tugboat to the glittering ocean liner. But he also learns that the real ocean is huge and deep and full of dangers. A lyrical text and magical illustrations combine to create a modern fable with an important message about striving for what you want and escaping your comfort zone.

Books About Boats and Adventure And Adventurers

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Three Bears in a Boat
Written & illustrated by David Soman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
From the co-creator of the New York Times bestselling Ladybug Girl series comes a high seas adventure inspired by the classic picture books Little Bear and Where the Wild Things Are. Three bear siblings break their mother’s favorite blue seashell, and rather than tell her, they decide to set out in their sailboat to find her a new one. On their quest they encounter salty sailors, strange new islands, huge whales, and vast seas but no blue seashells. When a treacherous storm suddenly blows in, the three bears find themselves tossed about in their little boat, far from Mama. What will become of their search, and what will it take to bring them safely home? This read aloud shares its best qualities with classic picture books: breath-taking illustrations, epic adventure, and a subtle message about taking responsibility for your actions.
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The Treasure of Maria Mamoun
Written by Michell Chalfoun
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Twelve-year-old Maria lives a lonely, latchkey-kid's life in the Bronx. Her Lebanese mother is working two nursing jobs to keep them afloat, and Maria keeps her worries to herself, not wanting to be a burden. Then something happens one day between home and school that changes everything. Mom whisks them to an altogether different world on Martha's Vineyard, where she's found a job on a seaside estate. While the mysterious bedridden owner―a former film director―keeps her mother busy, Maria has the freedom to explore a place she thought could only exist in the movies. Making friends with a troublesome local character, Maria finds an old sailboat that could make a marvelous clubhouse. She also stumbles upon an old map that she is sure will lead to pirate's plunder―but golden treasure may not be the most valuable thing she discovers for herself this special summer.
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Oliver and the Seawigs
Written by Phillip Reave & illustrated by Sarah McIntyre and Phillip Reave
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10
Get ready for moving islands! Mischievous monkeys! And a splashy adventure with illustrations on almost every page. When Oliver’s explorer parents go missing, he sets sail to find them with some new friends. There’s a grumpy albatross, a nearsighted mermaid . . . even a living island! But the high seas are more exciting and strange than Oliver could have imagined. Can he and his crew spar with sarcastic seaweed, outrun an army of sea monkeys, win a fabulous maritime fashion contest, and defeat a wicked sea captain in time to save Mom and Dad? For early chapter book readers who are ready for something longer, the Not-So-Impossible Tales are packed with silly humor, action, and larger-than-life fun.
Honorable Mentions
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 3 The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 3) (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard (3)) book
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The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones book
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The Voyage to Magical North book
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  1. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 3 The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 3) (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard (3)) - Magnus Chase, a once-homeless teen, is a resident of the Hotel Valhalla and one of Odin’s chosen warriors. As the son of Frey, the god of summer, fertility, and health, Magnus isn’t naturally inclined to fighting. But he has strong and steadfast friends, including Hearthstone the elf, Blitzen the dwarf, and Samirah the Valkyrie, and together they have achieved brave deeds, such as defeating Fenris Wolf and battling giants for Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. Now Magnus faces his most dangerous trial yet. His cousin, Annabeth, recruits her boyfriend, Percy Jackson, to give Magnus some pointers, but will his training be enough? Loki is free from his chains. He’s readying Naglfar, the Ship of the Dead, complete with a host of giants and zombies, to sail against the Asgardian gods and begin the final battle of Ragnarok. It’s up to Magnus and his friends to stop him, but to do so they will have to sail across the oceans of Midgard, Jotunheim, and Niflheim in a desperate race to reach Naglfar before it’s ready to sail. Along the way, they will face angry sea gods, hostile giants, and an evil fire-breathing dragon. Magnus’s biggest challenge will be facing his own inner demons. Does he have what it takes to outwit the wily trickster god?

  2. The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones - Mabel Jones finds herself aboard the Feroshus Maggot—a ship crewed by the strangest bunch of pirates you’d (never) want to meet. She then has to find pieces of an X-shaped puzzle that in her hands could be her ticket home, but in the hands of Captain Split, they’d give him the power to assemble a pirate militia to take over London!

  3. The Voyage to Magical North - Twelve-year-old Brine Seaborne is a girl with a past—if only she could remember what it is. Found alone in a rowboat as a child, clutching a shard of the rare starshell needed for spell-casting, she’s spent the past years keeping house for an irritable magician and his obnoxious apprentice, Peter. When Brine and Peter get themselves into a load of trouble and flee, they blunder into the path of the legendary pirate ship the Onion. Before you can say “pieces of eight,” they’re up to their necks in the pirates’ quest to find Magical North, a place so shrouded in secrets and myth that most people don’t even think it exists. If Brine is lucky, she’ll find her place in the world. And if she’s unlucky, everyone on the ship will be eaten by sea monsters. It could really go either way.

Books About Boats and Animals

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The Circus Ship
Written & illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
After courageously swimming to shore when the ship that they are traveling on sinks and the wretched captain does nothing to rescue them, circus animals find a way to become a valued part of a coastal community.
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Moby-Dick
Written by Jennifer Adams & illustrated by Alison Oliver
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4
Little Master Melville teaches little ones the language of the sea in Moby-Dick: An Ocean Primer. From ships and sailors to squawking gulls and moody good captains, Alison Oliver’s brilliant illustrations and Jennifer Adams’ clever, simple text will make a sea dog out of any young shipmate.
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Water Sings Blue
Written by Kate Coombs & illustrated by Meilo So
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Come down to the shore with this rich and vivid celebration of the ocean! With watercolors gorgeous enough to wade in by award-winning artist Meilo So and playful, moving poems by Kate Coombs, Water Sings Blue evokes the beauty and power, the depth and mystery, and the endless resonance of the sea.
Honorable Mentions
All Aboard Noah's Ark! book
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Noah's Ark book
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Ready, Set, Sail! book
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  1. All Aboard Noah's Ark! - Flaps alter the illustrations of this retelling of the Biblical account of Noah and the great flood

  2. Noah's Ark - Bring Noah’s Ark to life with this interactive retelling. Perfect for story time! This interactive retelling of the story of Noah’s Ark is brought to life with die-cut windows, colorful illustrations, simple text, and clever lift-the-flaps on every spread. Perfect for introducing the stories of the Bible to young children, this book will become a story time favorite! Count two by two as Noah leads animals from the jungle, farm, garden, and more into his ark, safe and warm, away from the flood.

  3. Ready, Set, Sail! - Join these sailors as they explore the sea during a fun day of sailing in this follow-up to Ready, Set, Build! Shout your orders loud and fast. “Hoist the mainsail up the mast!” Grab your life vest, hold on to your compass, and get ready for a day full of sailing fun with a playful tiger and turtle! Follow these salty sailors as they raise their anchor, cast off, and explore the sea in their little sloop. And after a long day of sailing, they gather and tell tales of all the things they’ve seen!

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Books About Boats and Family

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Little Pig Saves the Ship
Written & illustrated by David Hyde Costello
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
It's hard to be the littlest, but when Little Pig's siblings all go off to sailing camp and he feels like he's missing out, his oldest brother and his grandpa do a great job of making sure Little Pig gets to be a little involved too. I appreciated the sweet and strong family relationships, the quality time they spend together and the realization Little Pig has that even though he's little, he still has something to contribute. The illustrations are sweet as well!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Little Pig is back in Little Pig Saves the Ship! When the sea-faring pigs go a-sailing! Intrepid Little Pig — still the littlest pig in the family — is too little to go to summer camp with his older brothers and sisters. He is left behind with Grandpa and Poppy. Little Pig and Poppy make and sail a toy ship all week, but on Saturday a gusty wind takes the ship into the current, and Little Pig has to use his newfound knot-tying skills to save the day. A sweetly told intergenerational story about how even the littlest can make a big difference.
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Vincent Comes Home
Written by Jessixa Bagley & illustrated by Aaron Bagley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6
Jessixa Bagley, author and illustrator of Laundry Day, Before I Leave, and Boats For Papa (winner of the 2016 SCBWI Golden Kite Award for best picture book text) and Aaron Bagley (illustrator of Rocking Fatherhood) have been drawing and writing together since they met in art school more than a decade ago. What started off as a courtship of doodling in sketchbooks and belching in lockers soon turned into a marriage of doodling in sketchbooks and belching with their son. Their artistic partnership is a balanced collaboration of overlapping their individual styles and painting techniques—creating one cohesive language. Vincent Comes Home is their first picture book together. And much like Vincent, they have moved around a lot but their home has always been each other.
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Indestructibles: Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Written by Maddie Frost & illustrated by Amy Pixton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-2
Baby's favorite book series (rip-proof, drool-proof, and nontoxic--designed for the way babies "read" with their mouths) now features one of baby's favorite songs, with all the lyrics!
Honorable Mentions
That Bear Can't Babysit book
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Ciao, Baby! Ready for a Ride book
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  1. That Bear Can't Babysit - When Mr. and Mrs. Burrow need a babysitter, they are not expecting Bear. But Bear is the only one who shows up, so Bear gets the job of babysitting seven little bunnies who are full of mischief. Together, the bunnies persuade Bear to read a scary book, give them chocolate for dinner, and go crazy with the garden hose! But when the bunnies find Bear sailing the high seas in a make-believe ship, suddenly he isn’t such a bad babysitter after all.

  2. Ciao, Baby! Ready for a Ride - Ciao! A pair of cute and colorful board books from Carole Lexa Schaefer and Lauren Tobia introduce a curious, lovable tot eager to explore the world. Baby and Mamma are going to visit Nonna today. They say good-bye to Papa — Ciao, Papa! — and head out. How will they get there? Roll, roll in the stroller. Beep, beep on the bus. Choo, choo on the train — all the way to Nonna’s. Whee! Ciao, Nonna! Ciao, Baby!

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Books About Boats and Science And Nature

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The Sea Knows
Written by Alan B. Havis and Alice B. McGinty & illustrated by Stephanie Laberis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Dive in and explore the wonders of the ocean and its inhabitants in this lyrical, fact-filled ode to the sea! This beautifully illustrated picture book features extensive nonfiction backmatter for further exploration. We are young. The sea is old. The sea has secrets to unfold. The sea knows. In this playful, rhyming celebration of the marine world, readers can explore all of the wondrous things the sea knows. It knows huge whales and small krill; it knows short crabs and tall giant kelp; it knows brightly colored starfish in shallow pools; and in the inky depths it knows the alluring jewel of an anglerfish’s glowing lure. Discover all of the strange and magnificent underwater creatures in this accessible tribute to the power and mystery of the ocean.
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Ocean Meets Sky
Written by Terry Fan & illustrated by Eric Fan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
It’s a good day for sailing. Finn lives by the sea and the sea lives by him. Every time he looks out his window it’s a constant reminder of the stories his grandfather told him about the place where the ocean meets the sky. Where whales and jellyfish soar and birds and castles float. Finn’s grandfather is gone now but Finn knows the perfect way to honor him. He’ll build his own ship and sail out to find this magical place himself! And when he arrives, maybe, just maybe, he’ll find something he didn’t know he was looking for.
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Yellow Kayak
Written by Nina Laden & illustrated by Melissa Castrillón
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A child and his beloved best friend go on a grand sea adventure in this magical picture book by the author and artist who created *If I Had a Little Dream*. You just never know what a new day will hold if you are brave enough to find out. On one quiet afternoon, a boy and his special friend’s unexpected adventure bring joy and excitement and sights never imagined. And the best part of any adventure is returning home with stories to tell and you best friend at your side.
Honorable Mentions
Boil Line book
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Turtle Tug to the Rescue book
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Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea book
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A River book
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  1. Boil Line - Camp Clearwater is home to best friends Nate, Owen and Mercy. They practically grew up on the Starling River. But the summer they turn sixteen an incident forces the camp to close its doors. Mike Elliot, the river guide who taught the teens everything they know, is lost to the rapids. A tragic accident, everyone agrees. Except for Nate. Mike was the best kayaker he’d ever met. The smartest. The safest. He respected and loved the river, and as far as Nate is concerned, the river loved Mike back. If his instructor was pulled under by the Starling, then Nate is sure foul play was involved. To find the truth, Nate must face his greatest fears as he retraces Mike’s final run through the Black Hole, the most treacherous waters on the Starling.

  2. Turtle Tug to the Rescue - Turtle Tug is on the lookout! This chugging, tugging turtle powers through gusty winds and treacherous tides, combing the seas to protect his friends from a dangerous storm. From panicking puffins to entangled sperm whales, Turtle Tug is out to rescue all his sea-dwelling friends. He’s a turtle tugboat on a mission to make the world a safer place.

  3. Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea - The Book Snob Mom -

    This is definitely on the longer side, so is better suited to children with longer attention spans, but is a wonderful story of the contribution of Marie Tharp to our understanding of the world and particularly the ocean floor. A great read for burgeoning scientific minds encouraging us to keep asking questions and never give up!

  4. A River - There’s a river outside my window. Where will it take me? So begins the imaginary journey of a child inspired by the view outside her bedroom window: a vast river winding through a towering city. A small boat with a single white sail floats down the river and takes her from factories to farmlands, freeways to forests, out to the stormy and teeming depths of the ocean, and finally back to the comforts—and inspirations—of home. This lush, immersive book by award-winning picture book creator Marc Martin will delight readers of all ages by taking them on a transcendent and aspirational journey through an imaginative landscape.

Books About Boats and Travel

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The Antlered Ship
Written by Dashka Slater & illustrated by Terry Fan and Eric Fan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
An inquisitive fox named Marco and a bored flock of pigeons join the crew of deer Captain Sylvia, setting sail in her antlered ship in search of a wonderful island and finding friendship on the way.
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Row, Row, Row Your Boat in Oregon
Written by Forrest Everett & illustrated by Mary Sergeeva
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3
Row, row, row your boat . . . in Oregon! The sights and scenery of Oregon spring to life in this adorable twist on the favorite children's song. Each die-cut page of the layered board book reveals an imaginary boat sailing past Mount Hood, the Tillamook factory, Sea Lion Caves, coastal lighthouses, and more! A delightful children's introduction to the iconic places of Oregon, and when you're done with your journey? Row, row, row your boat back around thebend. If you love Oregon, sing the song again!
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Ship
Written & illustrated by Chris Demarest
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Ship sails, tug beside. Salt air. Early tide. Take a voyage on the high seas in this rhyming board book.
Honorable Mentions
The Quiet Boat Ride and Other Stories book
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Lifeboat 12 book
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Sunker's Deep book
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Everything Goes: By Sea book
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  1. The Quiet Boat Ride and Other Stories - In the second book of this lauded series, Fox and Chick are off on three new adventures involving a boat ride, a mysterious box, and an early morning trip to see the sunrise. Despite the antics ensuing from their opposite personalities, the contradictory duo always manages to find a happy center. This early chapter book in comic-book form is perfect for emerging readers, while the sweet and funny characters and captivating art hold appeal for picturebook audiences as well.

  2. Lifeboat 12 - In the tradition of The War That Saved My Life and Stella By Starlight, this poignant novel in verse based on true events tells the story of a boy’s harrowing experience on a lifeboat after surviving a torpedo attack during World War II. With Nazis bombing London every night, it’s time for thirteen-year-old Ken to escape. He suspects his stepmother is glad to see him go, but his dad says he’s one of the lucky ones—one of ninety boys and girls to ship out aboard the SS City of Benares to safety in Canada. Life aboard the luxury ship is grand—nine-course meals, new friends, and a life far from the bombs, rations, and his stepmum’s glare. And after five days at sea, the ship’s officers announce that they’re out of danger. They’re wrong. Late that night, an explosion hurls Ken from his bunk. They’ve been hit. Torpedoed! The Benares is sinking fast. Terrified, Ken scrambles aboard Lifeboat 12 with five other boys. Will they get away? Will they survive? Award-winning author Susan Hood brings this little-known World War II story to life in a riveting novel of courage, hope, and compassion. Based on true events and real people, Lifeboat 12 is about believing in one another, knowing that only by banding together will we have any chance to survive.

  3. Sunker's Deep - Action, adventure, and mystery surround the Sunkers, a band of children who live in a submarine, as they try to survive a war in Book Two of the Icebreaker Trilogy . Sharkey is a Sunker - he was born on a fortunate tide, and everyone in the giant submersible Rampart knows it. He’s a hero, a future admiral, beloved by the ancestors. The trouble is his life is based on a lie. He’s been a fake hero for years, but when tragedy strikes, he must become a real one. And he has no idea how to go about it.Meanwhile, on land, Petrel, Fin, and the crew of the Oyster are on a mission to defeat the Devouts and bring lost knowledge back into the world, a mission they have no idea how to carry out. This second installment of the Icebreaker trilogy features action, adventure, and a world that is perhaps not so different from our own.

  4. Everything Goes: By Sea - Everything Goes: By Sea, the third picture book in the Everything Goes series of picture books, board books, and I Can Reads, is a wonderful celebration of sailboats, submarines, and many other interesting sea vehicles. Featuring fun mini–story lines, seek-and-find activities, tons of hilarious details, and cool cutaways, Everything Goes: By Sea is an interactive book that provides hours of fun!

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Books About Boats and Friendship

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Toy Boat
Written by Randall de Seve & illustrated by Loren Long and Randall de Seve
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
This book is gorgeously illustrated and is simultaneously a fun "boat book"—showcasing lots of different kinds of boats with some of their attributes—while also conveying a much deeper and more moving message about independence, letting go, and a deep friendship. This really resonated with me in terms of a parent-child relationship, and how that bond can be strengthened if you let go a little but remain a safe place to always return to.
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2
A toy boat gets separated from its owner and has an adventure on the high seas.
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South
Written & illustrated by Daniel Duncan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7
When a lonely fisherman finds an injured bird on his boat, he nurtures it back to health and--since the bird can no longer migrate with its family--charts a course to head south for the winter. Together, the two form a special friendship and enjoy life at sea until both the healing process and the journey must come to an end. In the tradition of the classic Amos & Boris, South is a story about making new friends and the bittersweet process of saying good-bye to the ones we love. It beautifully depicts the power of new beginnings and the freedom in coming home.
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Violet and the Smugglers
Written by Harriet Whitehorn & illustrated by Becka Moor
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13
Meet Violet Remy-Robinson, an amateur Sherlock Holmes in the making, in this “Agatha Christie-esque mystery...[that’s] quirky and charming” (The Guardian)—perfect for fans of Chris Riddell and Robin Stevens’s Wells & Wong mysteries.Uncle Johnny has invited Violet and her friends to spend the summer with him on a sailing adventure around Europe and Violet couldn’t be more excited! But when she suspects that the captain of a boat nearby might be up to no good, Violet needs to put her detective skills into action. Could he be the head of an international smuggling ring?Beautifully designed and filled with gorgeous two-color illustrations throughout, everyone is bound to fall in love with Violet and the colorful characters that make up her world.
Honorable Mentions
The Friend Ship book
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Little Tug book
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Mr. Gumpy's Outing book
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Icebreaker book
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  1. The Friend Ship - Little Hedgehog is very lonely. But then she overhears passersby talking about something that gives her hope-something called a Friend Ship! Hedgehog imagines a ship filled with friends of all kinds, and soon she’s ready to hit the open seas in a boat of her own to track it down. Along the way, she meets other lonely animals eager to join her quest. They search north. They search south. They search east. But Hedgehog and her new friends can’t find the Ship anywhere! Until she realizes she knows just where the Friend Ship is. . . This heartwarming tale by Kat Yeh, with charming illustrations by Chuck Groenink, proves that sometimes, what you’re searching for is right in front of you.

  2. Little Tug - Little Tug may not be very tall or very fast, but when the big ships in the harbor need help, they know they can count on him to be there with a push, a pull, and a ride to safety. But what happens when Little Tug gets tired? This simple, endearing book with a charming retro feel and an emotional punch is the first book for Roaring Brook Press by the acclaimed author of Polar Bear Night (New York Times Best Illustrated book) and Where’s Walrus?

  3. Mr. Gumpy's Outing - Mr. Gumpy’s Outing is a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner and an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book. In England, illustrator John Burningham, with Mr. Gumpy’s Outing, became the first artist ever to win England’s Kate Greenaway Medal twice. Mr. Gumpy lives by a river. One sunny day he decides to take a ride in his small boat. It is such a perfect idea, for such a perfect summer day, that he soon has company: first the children, then the rabbit, the cat, the dog, the pig, the sheep, the chickens, and still others until— Mr. Gumpy’s outing comes to an inevitable but not unhappy, conclusion. “Come for a ride another day,” says Mr. Gumpy at the book’s end. And young readers will return again and again to this sprightly story with its clever, captivating illustrations that reflect the sunlit quality of a lazy summer afternoon. An ALA Notable Children’s Book A New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children’s Book A Child Study Association Children’s Book of the Year A Library of Congress Children’s Book of the Year

  4. Icebreaker - Twelve-year-old Petrel is an outcast, living on an ancient icebreaker that has been following the same ocean course for three hundred years. The ship’s crew has forgotten its original purpose and has broken into three warring tribes. Everyone has a tribe except Petrel, whose parents were thrown overboard for alleged crimes. She has survived by living in the dark corners of the ship, and speaking to no one except two large rats, Mister Smoke and Mrs. Slink. When a boy is discovered on a frozen iceberg, the crew is immediately on alert. Petrel hides him on board, hoping he’ll be her friend. What she doesn’t know is that the ship guards a secret, held down deep in its belly, and the boy has been sent to seek and destroy it. Icebreaker by Lian Tanner is a lush fantasy and thrilling adventure story, with an unforgettable friendship at its heart.

Books About Boats and America

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Old MacDonald Had a Boat
Written by Steve Goetz & illustrated by Eda Kaban
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Old Mac and Mrs. Mac are at it again! This time, these DIY-happy farmers wield a host of noisy tools—from hammers to sanders, and even a blowtorch—to soup up their rusty old fishing boat. With a BANG BANG here and a BUZZ BUZZ there, this silly, summery sequel to the wildly popular Old MacDonald Had a Truck is sure to make a splash—and have the whole family singing along.
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Words Set Me Free
Written by Lesa Cline-Ransome & illustrated by James E. Ransome
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9
"Words Set Me Free is the inspiring story of young Frederick Douglass's path to freedom through reading"--
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Crossing on Time
Written by David Macaulay
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11
David Macaulay, creator of the international bestseller The Way Things Work, brings his signature curiosity and detailing to the story of the steamship in this meticulously researched and stunningly illustrated book. Prior to the 1800s, ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean relied on the wind in their sails to make their journeys. But invention of steam power ushered in a new era of transportation that would change ocean travel forever: the steamship. Award-winning author-illustrator David Macaulay guides readers through the fascinating history that culminated in the building of the most advanced—and last—of these steamships: the SS United States. This book artfully explores the design and construction of the ship and the life of its designer and engineer, William Francis Gibbs. Framed around the author's own experience steaming across the Atlantic on the very same SS United States, Crossing on Time is a tour de force of the art of explanation and a touching and surprising childhood story.
Honorable Mentions
The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, or John Howland's Good Fortune book
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Ella and Monkey at Sea book
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Sinking the Sultana book
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How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? book
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  1. The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, or John Howland's Good Fortune - In the first book he has both written and illustrated, master artist P.J. Lynch brings a Mayflower voyager’s story to vivid life. At a young age, John Howland learned what it meant to take advantage of an opportunity. Leaving the docks of London on the Mayflower as an indentured servant to Pilgrim John Carver, John Howland little knew that he was embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. By his great good fortune, John survived falling overboard on the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, and he earned his keep ashore by helping to scout a safe harbor and landing site for his bedraggled and ill shipmates. Would his luck continue to hold amid the dangers and adversity of the Pilgrims’ lives in New England? John Howland’s tale is masterfully told in his own voice, bringing an immediacy and young perspective to the oft-told Pilgrims’ story. P.J. Lynch captures this pivotal moment in American history in precise and exquisite detail, from the light on the froth of a breaking wave to the questioning voice of a teen in a new world.

  2. Ella and Monkey at Sea - Ella’s best friend, Monkey, doesn’t like good-bye hugs. He doesn’t want to say good-bye to Oma. And he doesn’t want to move away forever. Neither does Ella. But Papa is waiting for them in New York. So Ella and Monkey must board the ship with Mama and leave their old home in Holland for their new home in America. Along the way, there is fish for dinner (Monkey hates fish), a playroom full of new kids (Monkey doesn’t like strangers), and stormy seas that leave everyone feeling sick. Can Ella and Monkey find a way to weather the storm? Will they ever feel at home again? This sweetly illustrated picture book will appeal to anyone who has left home behind— and to children who find creative ways to share their emotions

  3. Sinking the Sultana - The worst maritime disaster in American history wasn’t the Titanic. It was the steamboat Sultana on the Mississippi River—and it could have been prevented.

  4. How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? - Every year, giant pumpkin contests take place at fairs across the country—the 2012 record-holder weighed over a ton! The latest craze is to carve the most enormous pumpkins into racing boats. But what’s next? Why not think really big? Award-winning artist Wendell Minor does just that as he imagines larger-than-life pumpkins decorating some of America’s favorite places—as immense as the Capitol dome, Mount Rushmore, the Brooklyn Bridge, even the Grand Canyon! This celebration of famous landmarks and landscapes plays with concepts of size and scale and is full of fun facts.

Want to see books about America?

Books About Boats and Social Themes

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I'll Catch You If You Fall
Written by Mark Sperring & illustrated by Layn Marlow
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
In the spirit of Someday and Guess How Much I Love You comes a lyrical and endearing picture book about the people in our lives who are always there to look out for us. Who will keep the boy safe? “I will,” said his mother. “I will hold him close... and never let him lean too far.” Big or small, near or far, we all need someone to watch over us. This touching picture book is a reassuring tale about a journey and the people who are with us as we travel through life. It is for anyone who has wondered, Who will keep me safe? and for anyone who has answered, I will.
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Little Bear's Little Boat
Written by Eve Bunting & illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6
Little Bear loves his little boat. But Little Bear soon begins to grow and grow, until one day he doesn’t fit in his little boat anymore! All children who experience growing pains will appreciate Little Bear’s predicament. And they will smile with satisfaction as the solution to his problem unfolds in simple, lyrical words and charming pictures from two award-winning picture-book creators.
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Boats for Papa
Written & illustrated by Jessixa Bagley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Buckley and his Mama live in a cozy cabin by the ocean. He loves to carve boats, each one more beautiful than the last, out of the driftwood he finds on the beach nearby. He sends them out to see and if they don't come back, he knows they've found their way to his papa, whom he misses very much.
Honorable Mentions
The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast book
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Gracie Laroo Sets Sail book
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  1. The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast - A boy washes up on a mysterious, seemingly uninhabited beach. Who is he? How did he get there? The boy can’t remember. When he sees a light shining over the foreboding wall of trees that surrounds the shore, he decides to follow it, in the hopes that it will lead him to answers. The boy’s journey is a struggle for survival and a search for the truth—a terrifying truth that once uncovered, will force him to face his greatest fear of all if he is to go home. This gripping adventure will have readers hooked until its jaw-dropping and moving conclusion. Samantha M. Clark’s first novel heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice.

  2. Gracie Laroo Sets Sail - The Water Sprites are supposed to perform their medal-winning synchronized swimming routine aboard a cruise ship, but everything goes wrong when the piglets aboard start throwing things at the swimmers—so Gracie enlists the help of famous Rita Sinclair and her dancers to help impose order on the unruly passengers.

Books About Boats and Rescues And Rescuing

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Little Toot
Written & illustrated by Hardie Gramatky
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Little Toot is a tugboat who does not want to tug. Instead, he wants to make figure eights in the harbor and bother all the other tugboats. But when he ends up all alone on the open water as a storm is rolling in, it's up to him to save a stuck ocean liner. This classic story is sure to delight a whole new generation of readers!
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Mighty Tug
Written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli & illustrated by David Mottram
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
From early in the morning until time to say, "Good night," Mighty Tug works in the busy harbor, guiding cargo ships, pulling barges, and helping with rescues.
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The Secret Of Black Rock
Written by Joe Todd-Stanton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Erin loves to lie on the jetty, looking for the weirdest fish in the sea—the weirder, the better! And she knows the best ones must be further out, where her mum won't let her go... Out there in the deepest sea lies the Black Rock: a huge, dark and spiky mass that is said to destroy any boats that come near it! Can Erin uncover the truth behind this mysterious legend?
Honorable Mentions
Blue Boat book
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Seven Bad Cats book
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  1. Blue Boat - With the tremendous success of RED TRUCK in board book format and anticipation around YELLOW COPTER in board to match, we’re thrilled to complete the primary-colored series about vehicles who save the day by bringing BLUE BOAT into board, too! When a family on a sailing outing gets stuck in a surprise storm, there is only one boat tough enough to handle the rocking waves and howling winds: Blue Boat! Now even the youngest readers can cheer on this “rough, tough tugboat.”

  2. Seven Bad Cats - Today I put on my boots and my coat And seven bad cats jumped into my boat. There was one bad cat Who ate from my traps And two bad cats On my oars taking naps Seven cats anywhere is probably too many. Seven BAD cats, all in one boat, is asking for trouble… When a band of bad cats stow away on a little girl’s boat, their antics cause the vessel to capsize. Can they come to their captain’s rescue and help get the boat safely to shore?

Books About Boats and The Ocean

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Stephen Biesty's Cross-Sections: Man-Of-War
Written by Richard Platt & illustrated by Stephen Biesty
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-11
The author of Incredible Cross-Sections takes a detailed look inside an eighteenth-century warship, providing fascinating facts about the ship and the people aboard it. BOMC Main.
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Prince Not-So Charming: Wild Wild Quest
Written by Roy L Hinuss
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
The sixth chapter book in the Prince Not-So Charming series features Prince Carlos going on a quest—and disaster is never far away. Prince Carlos Charles Charming tells a lot more jokes than your standard prince is probably supposed to. But he’s been working hard to live up to his princely expectations. That’s good, because the ultimate prince, Gilbert the Gallant, has gone missing! Carlos, his friend Pinky, and his pet dragon Smudge are assigned to go find Gilbert and complete his quest. But how can Carlos do what the oh-so-perfect Gilbert couldn’t? Especially when Smudge sets their boat on fire before they’ve gone very far? And every princely voyage involves a sea monster! Perfect for middle school readers and filled with adorable illustrations, Prince Not-So Charming: Wild Wild Quest shows how even princes struggle sometimes—but the only way to get through it is one step at a time. An Imprint Book
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Mother Cary's Butter Knife
Written by Nicola Davies & illustrated by Anja Uhren
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11
A boy who falls in love with the sea. One in a series of short stories that explore the deeper, darker side of our connection with the natural world. Inspired by ancient folk tales and a love of nature. Be ready to feel a little bit of magic, and perhaps a few shivers down the spine.
Honorable Mentions
The Sinking of the Vasa book
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If You Were a Kid Aboard the Titanic book
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  1. The Sinking of the Vasa - Newbery Medalist Freedman explores the mystery of the sinking of the great Swedish warship, the “Vasa, “ on her maiden voyage in 1628, and her resurrection from the seas centuries later. Full color.

  2. If You Were a Kid Aboard the Titanic - In 1912, the Titanic set off from England on its first voyage. Many people thought the ship was unsinkable, but they were soon proven wrong. Travel through time with William and Alice as they set sail aboard the Titanic in this exciting blend of fiction and nonfiction. You will see that life today is a lot different than it was in the past!

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