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64 Bubbly Kids Books About Boats

Updated Apr. 16, 2019

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 Boats Books

Ahoy, Li'l Buccaneers! book
#1
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.

The Circus Ship book
#2
The Circus Ship
Written and 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.

Sheep on a Ship book
#3
Sheep on a Ship
Written by Nancy E Shaw and illustrated by Margot Apple
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
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

Captain Small goes sailing, fishes from his boat, goes for an unexpected swim, and braves a storm on the way home.

Charlie's Boat book
#4
Charlie's Boat
Written and illustrated by Kit Chase
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
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.

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.

Little Pig Saves the Ship book
#5
Little Pig Saves the Ship
Written and illustrated by David Hyde Costello
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
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!

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.

Toy Boat book
#6
Toy Boat
Written by Randall de Seve and illustrated by Loren Long, Randall de Seve
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2
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.

A toy boat gets separated from its owner and has an adventure on the high seas.

The Red Boat book
#7
The Red Boat
Written and illustrated by Hannah Cumming
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
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!

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.

Harry and the Jaggedy Daggers book
#8
Harry and the Jaggedy Daggers
Written and 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.

The Antlered Ship book
#9
The Antlered Ship
Written by Dashka Slater and illustrated by Eric Fan, Terry 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.

Three Bears in a Boat book
#10
Three Bears in a Boat
Written and illustrated by David Soman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Afraid to face their mother after breaking her beautiful blue seashell, three bears set out on an high seas adventure to try to find a replacement.

Books About Adventure & Boats

Ahoy, Li'l Buccaneers! book
#1
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.

Three Bears in a Boat book
#2
Three Bears in a Boat
Written and illustrated by David Soman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Afraid to face their mother after breaking her beautiful blue seashell, three bears set out on an high seas adventure to try to find a replacement.

Little Boat book
#3
Little Boat
Written and illustrated by Taro Gomi
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

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!

Honorable Mentions
  1. Oliver and the Seawigs - 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Fox & Chick: The Quiet Boat Ride - 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.

  4. Little Tug - Little Tug knows what to do when the tall ship, the speedboat, and the ocean liner need him, and at such times, he is indispensible.

Want to see even more books about boats and adventure?

How about books about adventure?

Books About Friendship & Boats

Charlie's Boat book
#1
Charlie's Boat
Written and illustrated by Kit Chase
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
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.

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.

Toy Boat book
#2
Toy Boat
Written by Randall de Seve and illustrated by Loren Long, Randall de Seve
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2
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.

A toy boat gets separated from its owner and has an adventure on the high seas.

The Antlered Ship book
#3
The Antlered Ship
Written by Dashka Slater and illustrated by Eric Fan, Terry 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.

Honorable Mentions
  1. 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.

  2. South - 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.

  3. Fox & Chick: The Quiet Boat Ride - 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.

  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.

Want to see even more books about boats and friendship?

How about books about friendship?

Books About Bravery & Boats

The Red Boat book
#1
The Red Boat
Written and illustrated by Hannah Cumming
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
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!

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.

Harry and the Jaggedy Daggers book
#2
Harry and the Jaggedy Daggers
Written and 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.

Little Boat book
#3
Little Boat
Written and illustrated by Taro Gomi
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

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!

Honorable Mentions
  1. 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.

  2. Little Dog Lost - On a cold winter day, a curious dog wanders onto a frozen river. Suddenly, the ice starts breaking up, and soon the dog is adrift and traveling -- the unwilling passenger on a fast-moving sheet of ice. The dramatic rescue of this little lost dog, who traveled seventy-five miles in two days, is a true story that will warm reader's hearts. Monica Carnesi's poignant text and charming illustrations perfectly convey the excitement of this remarkable tale, and readers will root for this little dog every step of the way.

  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.

Want to see even more books about boats and bravery?

How about books about bravery?

Books About Rescue & Boats

Little Pig Saves the Ship book
#1
Little Pig Saves the Ship
Written and illustrated by David Hyde Costello
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
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!

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.

Turtle Tug to the Rescue book
#2
Turtle Tug to the Rescue
Written and illustrated by Michael Slack
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

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.

Mighty Tug book
#3
Mighty Tug
Written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and 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.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Little Dog Lost - On a cold winter day, a curious dog wanders onto a frozen river. Suddenly, the ice starts breaking up, and soon the dog is adrift and traveling -- the unwilling passenger on a fast-moving sheet of ice. The dramatic rescue of this little lost dog, who traveled seventy-five miles in two days, is a true story that will warm reader's hearts. Monica Carnesi's poignant text and charming illustrations perfectly convey the excitement of this remarkable tale, and readers will root for this little dog every step of the way.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

Want to see even more books about boats and rescue?

How about books about rescue?

Books About Vehicles & Boats

Boats on the Bay book
#1
Boats on the Bay
Written by Jeanne Walker Harvey and illustrated by Grady McFerrin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Thoughts from Readerly Mom

I was all hearts-for-eyes emoji over this book as soon as I picked it up in the bookstore, and I haven't stopped loving it. My three-year-old feels the same way. It's fun to look at and quick to read, making it easy to read over and over again. There's a lot to discuss in it too--we like to identify specific places, talk about what the various people are doing, and notice opposites. Yes, we definitely love it a little extra because we live in the San Francisco Bay Area and the illustrations prominently feature the bridges, islands, buildings, and horizons we know and love, but children and adults from anywhere will enjoy the beautiful illustrations and descriptions of many different types of boats.

Illustrations and easy to read text portray a variety of vessels, from houseboats to dredgers, through the course of a busy day on the bay.

Alphabet Boats book
#2
Alphabet Boats
Written by Samantha R Vamos and illustrated by Ryan O Rourke
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Discover twenty-six types of vessels, from the more common — canoe and motorboat — to the unusual — umiak and Q-boat. Just like in Alphabet Trucks and Alphabet Trains, colorful art includes the letters of the alphabet hidden (and not-so-hidden) in supporting roles in the illustrations.

Boats Go book
#3
Boats Go
Written and illustrated by Steve Light
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2

All aboard! Sail away with 8 noisy boats, as they toot, chug, clang, and splash their way across the water! The sturdy pages feature a fireboat, tugboat, cruise ship, paddleboat, speedboat, sailboat, submarine, and gondola, and encourage young readers to chime in with all the noises each makes—ssshhhh cling-clang FLAP FLAP FLAP goes the sailboat! Here's a joyful addition to this much-praised series.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Mighty Tug - 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.

  2. My First Words - See and say your first words! Learn your first words with stylish artwork from Aino-Maija Metsola. With 70 essential words to see and say, plus sturdy pages for little hands to hold, young readers will enjoy naming objects on every spread. My First Words is a perfect introduction for little learners!

  3. Little Tug - Little Tug knows what to do when the tall ship, the speedboat, and the ocean liner need him, and at such times, he is indispensible.

Want to see even more books about boats and vehicles?

How about books about vehicles?

Books About The Ocean & Boats

Ocean Meets Sky book
#1
Ocean Meets Sky
Written by Terry Fan and 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.

Moby-Dick book
#2
Moby-Dick
Written by Jennifer Adams and 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.

Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea book
#3
Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea
Written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Raul Colon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from 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!

Filled with gorgeous illustrations by acclaimed artist Raúl Colón, this illustrated biography shares the story of female scientist, Marie Tharp, a pioneering woman scientist and the first person to ever successfully map the ocean floor. Marie Tharp was always fascinated by the ocean. Taught to think big by her father who was a mapmaker, Marie wanted to do something no one had ever done before: map the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Was it even possible? Not sure if she would succeed, Marie decided to give it a try. Throughout history, others had tried and failed to measure the depths of the oceans. Sailors lowered weighted ropes to take measurements. Even today, scientists are trying to measure the depth by using echo sounder machines to track how long it would take a sound wave sent from a ship to the sea floor to come back. But for Marie, it was like piecing together an immense jigsaw puzzle. Despite past failures and challenges—sometimes Marie would be turned away from a ship because having a woman on board was “bad luck”—Marie was determined to succeed. And she did, becoming the first person to chart the ocean floor, helping us better understand the planet we call home.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Boats for Papa - 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.

  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. Prince Not-So Charming: Wild Wild Quest - 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

  4. Crossing on Time - 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.

Want to see even more books about boats and the ocean?

How about books about the ocean?

Books About Animals & Boats

Moby-Dick book
#1
Moby-Dick
Written by Jennifer Adams and 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.

Water Sings Blue book
#2
Water Sings Blue
Written by Kate Coombs and 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.

All Aboard Noah's Ark! book
#3
All Aboard Noah's Ark!
Written by Mary Josephs and illustrated by Katy Bratun
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Flaps alter the illustrations of this retelling of the Biblical account of Noah and the great flood

Honorable Mentions
  1. 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.

  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 Mystery & Boats

Violet  and  the  Smugglers book
#1
Violet and the Smugglers
Written by Harriet Whitehorn and 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.

The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast book
#2
The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast
Written and illustrated by Samantha M. Clark
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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.

Fox & Chick: The Quiet Boat Ride book
#3
Fox & Chick: The Quiet Boat Ride
Written and illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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.

Honorable Mentions
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. The Mystery of Cabin Island - With two mysteries to solve, Frank and Joe must climb aboard their iceboat the Sea Gull to reach Cabin Island, where a belligerent stranger orders them off. Sabotage to the boat, danger to themselves, and a ghostly prowler do not daunt the Hardy boys in their search for Johnny Jefferson and for clues to stolen antique medals. How the teenage investigators outwit a ruthless foe and succeed in solving both mysteries makes for mounting suspense in this brisk-paced adventure.

  4. The Mystery of the Chinese Junk - The Hardys purchase a Chinese junk to use as a ferry service, in order to make some money over the summer. It soon becomes apparent that others are very interested in the ship.

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