#PPBF: Little Toot – Valentine’s Day – International Book Giving Day Giveaway

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susannah Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of writers who contribute a picture book review and related resources. On her blog you will find a page called Perfect Picture Books – parents and teachers can use that to locate books that address specific topics.

Today is also International Book Giving Day and Valentine’s Day ! I’m sharing one of the most beloved classic picture books and a craft activity that appeared on my blog three years ago.  Plus, there will be a giveaway of a picture book (I’m not telling which one…don’t you love surprises?)…all you need to do is comment on this post and you will be entered. littletoot_smLittle Toot

Written and illustrated by Hardie Gramatky

Publishers: G. P. Putnam (original: 1939, but many different editions over the years)

Ages: 3 – 7

Themes:  I’m taking Susanna Leonard Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic class…and learning so much about story themes…here are a few Susanna shared with us that apply to Little Toot: Believe in yourself and you can achieve your dreams; there is a time for play and a time for work; courage is doing something even though you are afraid of what might happen

Opening: “At the foot of an old, old wharf lives the cutest, silliest little tugboat you ever saw.  A very handsome tugboat with a brand new candy-stick smoke-stack.  His name is Little Toot.”

Synopsis: Little Toot spends his days “playing” in New York City harbor, getting in the way of the other tugboats that are working hard.  The little tugboat enjoys sailing in a figure-eight and blowing big smoke-balls.  While his father and grandfather, famous for their strength and bravery, work diligently, Little Toot fools around.  The entire fleet of tugboats wonders if Little Toot will ever learn to do the job he was born to do.  However, when a big ocean liner gets into trouble during a storm, Little Toot must decide if he will continue his childish antics or try to rescue the ship.

Why I like this book:

  •  Growing up is a difficult task.  Children often hear parents and teachers exclaim, “When will you grow up and act your age?”  Just like Leo the Late Bloomer, Little Toot helps parents realize that their children will mature in their own unique time.   
  • The story also gives hope to young children that they will master those tasks and skills that challenge them – it shows them how Little Toot was able to channel his energy in a positive way. Written over 75 years ago, the tale of the little tugboat is timely and timeless.
  • The book is filled with Mr. Gramatky’s beautiful watercolor illustrations and the text is perfectly simple and simply perfect!  The reader and listener are drawn into the drama on the high seas…will Little Toot be able to rescue the ocean liner?
  • Did you know that Andrew Wyeth named Hardie Gramatky one of the 20 all-time great American watercolorists, along with Edward Hopper and Winslow Homer? There is a website dedicated to Little Toot and the other works of Hardie Gramatky with teacher/parent/child activities and information: http://www.littletoot.org/

Related Activities:

Since today is Valentine’s Day, how about making a Tugboat Valentine Box for your child to store all of his or her Valentine cards? I love recycling stuff to do arts and crafts with kids! Shoe boxes are the best!!!

Love boat 3

You will need: Shoebox with lid, piece of cardboard (from cereal box or men’s dress shirt), construction paper, markers or crayons, white school glue or glue stick, scissors, Valentine stickers (optional…you can always cut them out of construction paper).

1.      Cut the piece of cardboard to fit the front of the bottom of the box as the “bow” of the boat.  Glue in place.

2.      Cut a hole in the lid for the “mail” slot.

3.      Cover the outside of the box and the lid with construction paper and glue in place.

4.      Cut several strips of paper and roll to form the smoke-stacks.  Glue in place.

5.      You can add decorations and designs with markers, crayons and stickers.

Love boat 2

Please come back tomorrow. One of Singapore’s leading picture book authors and a member of 12×12, award-winning Emily Lim, will be ‘in the house’ for WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES.

And don’t forget to leave a comment on last week’s Perfect Picture Book Friday post – one lucky person will win a copy of My Warp Speed Mind by Donalisa Helsley. We will announce the winner next Friday!

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About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever - Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (PomegranateKids, March 15, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, Feb 13, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, May 1, 2019); MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020); FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020) picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my young grandson.

Posted on February 13, 2014, in Crafts for kids, Little Toot by Hardie Gramatky, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Valentine's Day and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. Oh yes, Little Toot is such a classic, but I didn’t know that little tidbit about Hardie Gramatsky being in the company of Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth. I love your Valentine storage box- so clever and fun!


  2. Oh yes, Little Toot is such a classic, but I didn’t know that little tidbit about Hardie Gramatsky being in the company of Homer and Wyeth. I love your Valentine card box- so clever and fun!


    • Iza, it was actually Andrew Wyeth who compiled a list of the 20 greatest American watercolorists…and Gramatky was one of them…he started out as an artist for Walt Disney…and after many years there, decided to make his way to New York City. One day, while sketching New York harbor, he decided to write a children’s book about the river and the tugboats…and that’s how Little Toot came to be.:)

      Glad you liked the Valentine box…working with shoe boxes is lots of fun!


  3. So delightful to rediscover the old classics and find they are still so relevant. Thank you Vivian


  4. We are huge Little Toot fans, going back to my 70 year old aunt…Such beloved books!


    • On the Little Toot website there is a biography of Hardie Gramatky…it was fascinating to read how he came to write Little Toot…struck by the beauty of New York Harbor, he decided to write a book for children about it. Classic picture books do bring back wonderful memories, Dawn.:)


  5. Love Little Toot! And love the tugboat Valentine! You have such fun ideas, Vivian. I can’t believe we haven’t had Little Toot on our list before now – so glad you added it!


    • The tugboat Valentine is pretty cute.:) Thanks for your kind words, Susanna! I thought I had done Little Toot a couple of years ago…but I just had to do it again today because of the Valentine craft that went with it…


  6. I love your Valentine tugboat. I’m not familiar with Little Toot, interesting to hear why it was written.


  7. That Little Toot is something else indeed! I love your recycled tugboat! You sure come up with some great stuff! Thanks for sharing! Happy Day to you!!!


  8. Lovely themes for kids in “Little Toot.” Great idea to make a Valentine’s Day tug boat. Always look forward to your crafts.


    • There are some great themes in ‘Little Toot’…themes was just one of the lessons in Susanna’s Making Picture Book Magic class…I’m learning so much…and having so much fun…and hopefully becoming a better writer.:) Glad you liked the craft…it’s a fun one!


  9. Always loved Little Toot…think I still have a copy somewhere. Your crafts are creative and wonderful! Perfect for all those parents whose children are trapped inside with all the snow!


    • That’s so true, Barbara…the days are long when kids have nothing to do…simple crafts are so much fun and they build all kinds of skills and self-esteem.:) That’s why the crafting is such an important part of my parenting book, Show Me How!


  10. Your Little Toot mailbox is CUTE! Toot. Toot.


  11. What a cute craft! I sure do miss the days when making the valentine box/bag was the most important thing to do all week!


  12. Looks like someone in the house should buy new shoes! Great post AND craft.


    • Oh yes, Wendy…what a GREAT reason to buy a new pair of shoes (as if most ladies need a reason:)…I’ll tell my husband that I need a new shoebox for a craft. 🙂 🙂 🙂
      Glad you liked the craft…it is a fun one!


  13. Little Toot is just the cutest! Like Susanna, I can’t believe we haven’t had him already. Such a perfect picture book choice, Vivian. Love your colourful shoe box boat.


    • Thank you, Diane! Those older classics are lovely…although the word count in some of them is insane compared to many of the newer books. The shoe box boat was lots of fun to make…gotta love those shoe boxes.:)


  14. Great post! I linked it to mine 1st PPBF post. Thanks for linking to mine too. Look forward to being part of this fun meme on a subject close to all our hearts 🙂


    • WELCOME to Perfect Picture Book Friday, Emily!!!! I’m so very happy you are joining in the fun…I can guarantee you will LOVE Susanna’s blog…on Wednesday, she has Would You Read It Wednesday…where you can email her a pitch and everyone comments and you have a chance to win a pitch critique with a literary agent. Then she has awesome writing contests and writing prompts…and, of course, Perfect Picture Book Friday.
      I loved the book you reviewed…I’ve read a couple of other Oliver Jeffers books…he is definitely cutting edge picture book writing and illustrating!


  15. Oh my gosh! This book brings back wonderful memories of reading on the couch with my kids. How can you grow up and not know Little Toot!


    • My thought exactly, Sue! That’s why I love to put forward these old classics…just in case someone has missed them. There are so many amazing new books…but we shouldn’t forget about the old ones.:)


  16. Great activity! Happy Valentine’s Day! 😀


  17. Little Toot sounds so cute! And I love the Tugboat Valentine Box…how creative! I look forward to reading this book, Vivian. Thanks for sharing it.


    • Little Toot is pretty cute, Penny! What is amazing is how talented Hardie Gramatky was…he had worked for Walt Disney in the early Mickey Mouse days…fascinating! And he fell in love with the New York City harbor scene and wanted to put it in a story for kids. There must be a lesson for us picture book writers here.:) Write what you know and write what you love!


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