May 22 – National Maritime Day


About the Holiday

In 1933 The United States Congress established National Maritime Day to honor the important contributions of the maritime industry. The date of May 22 was chosen to commemorate the 1819 voyage of the steamship Savannah from the United States to England, which marked the first successful crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by steam power. Special ceremonies and celebrations are held throughout the country to recognize the day and the people involved in our maritime industry. To learn more about the history and continuing service of America’s maritime industry, visit the Maritime Administration website.


By Daniel Miyares


On a rainy day a little boy folds a paper sailboat and sets off outside to launch his boat. He’s sailing it over the waves of his picket fence, when the sky darkens and the rain pelts down fast and hard. The boy hides his boat in his yellow raincoat until the rain becomes a gentle drizzle. He finds a large puddle and floats his little boat across the surface. He jumps into the middle, splashing and flustering the birds.


Copyright Daniel Miyares, 2015, courtesy of

Next he sets his boat in the current rushing along the gutter, and the little paper boat zooms off with the boy running after it. Suddenly, the boat plunges through the grate into the darkness underneath the street. The boy reaches to catch it, but can’t quite capture it. He runs to the stone bridge and watches to see if the boat passes underneath. He moves to a hill and stares out to see his boat deposited from a drain pipe.


Copyright Daniel Miyares, 2015, courtesy of

The boat is soggy and unfolded. The boy retrieves it with a stick and trudges sadly home holding the wet newspaper in his hands. His dad opens the door and enfolds his son in a big hug. He helps him get dry, pours a cup of hot chocolate, and folds another page from the newspaper. Then he sends his little boy back outside to soar in the now sunny afternoon.


Copyright Daniel Miyares, 2015, courtesy of

Daniel Miyares’ exquisite wordless picture book takes readers on a moving journey through the emotions of life, including joy, exhilaration, disappointment, loss, love, and new beginnings. Rendered in gray tones with splashes of color, Miyares illustrations beautifully use various perspectives, the play of light and dark, motion, and readily recognizable facial expressions to tell his story. The mirrored images of the boy’s neighborhood in the puddle and the ready hug of his father reassure children that while life may not always be smooth sailing, home and love are never far away.  The suspenseful chain of events will keep young readers riveted to the story until the surprising and uplifting ending.

Float is a gorgeous book for quiet story times at home and in the classroom and would be an inspirational book while teaching reading skills and creative writing.

Ages 4 – 8

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015 | ISBN 978-1481415248

Discover more about Daniel Miyares, his books, and his art on his website.

National Maritime Day Activity


Sunny Seas Steamer Ship Coloring Page


Celebrate all the ships at sea with this printable Sunny Seas Steamer Ship Coloring Page.

Picture Book Review


March 2 – Read Across America Day


About the Holiday

Today’s holiday, established by the National Education Association in 1997, encourages children all across the country to celebrate reading and all of its joys and benefits. To commemorate the day, authors, illustrators, politicians, athletes, librarians, and families hold special reading events in schools, libraries, bookstores, and community centers. A love of reading is one of life’s greatest pleasures and begun early can be a powerful force for future success. Celebrate today by reading with a child or on your own. There are fabulous worlds and stories waiting to be discovered.

Tough Tug

Written by Margaret Read MacDonald | Illustrated by Rob McClurkan


In a shipyard in Anacortes, Washington, a new tugboat is being built. He watches every weld and rivet and tells the workers to make him strong “so big waves can’t break me!” Tough Tug is happy to see that he’s being painted red—his favorite color. When he’s all finished, Tough Tug is launched into the sea, where the older tugs are waiting to welcome him. “‘Hooray! I’m floating! This is fun!’” Tough Tug says. He can’t wait to show what he can do.


Image copyright Rob McClurkan, 2018, text copyright Margaret Read MacDonald, 2018. Courtesy of Two Lions.

But going forward is a little tricky, and there’s so much to look out for when reversing. Speeding is fun, but in a minute, the little tug is shouting “‘Oh, no! Oh, no!…can’t stop!’” The older tugs are watching all this with dismay. “‘Little tugs need to know how to STOP!’” Arctic Tug says. Tough Tug apologizes but can’t help showing off—just a little bit—his agility and the way he can “swirl and twirl” this way and that.


Image copyright Rob McClurkan, 2018, text copyright Margaret Read MacDonald, 2018. Courtesy of Two Lions.

The other tugs are not impressed. They tell Tough Tug that his only job is to push and pull. He should practice THAT, they advise him. Soon Tough Tug is needed to take a Barge to Alaska. Even though the Barge is heavy, Tough Tug is up to the task. In fact, he’s so sure of his abilities that he wants to race Arctic Tug and his barge all the way to Sitka. It doesn’t matter that Arctic Tug has a head start or is bigger, Tough Tug knows he can catch up and win.


Image copyright Rob McClurkan, 2018, text copyright Margaret Read MacDonald, 2018. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Arctic Tug smiles and pulls away in a spray of ocean foam. When Tough Tug pulls up to the pier in Sitka, where Arctic Tug is waiting, he acknowledges defeat, but challenges the older tug to continue the race across the open sea to Anchorage. Tough Tug is met by high, rough waves, cold wind, and darkness, but he’s “‘not worried. I’m Tough Tug,’” he tells himself.


Image copyright Rob McClurkan, 2018, text copyright Margaret Read MacDonald, 2018. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Suddenly in the stormy gray clouds, Tough Tug sees Arctic Tug’s puffy steam clouds spelling out S-O-S. Tough Tug knows just what to do. He leaves Barge and heads for where Arctic Tug is stranded with no power. He throws out his tow rope and begins to pull. It’s hard work pulling Arctic Tug and Arctic Tug’s Barge while keeping his course in such heavy seas, but he knows he can do it.


Image copyright Rob McClurkan, 2018, text copyright Margaret Read MacDonald, 2018. Courtesy of Two Lions.

They get to port “safe and sound,” and when Arctic Tug thanks him, Tough Tug just smiles and says, “‘No problem, Arctic Tug! A tugboat helps its friends!’” Still, Tough Tug isn’t finished for the day. He must go back and retrieve his own Barge still out at sea. With grit and determination, Tough Tug pulls his Barge through the high waves all the way to Anchorage. With the Barge safely in port, it’s time for Tough Tug, Arctic Tug, and the other tugs to “Rock and Rest. Rock and Rest” because tomorrow they’ll be needed again.


Image copyright Rob McClurkan, 2018, text copyright Margaret Read MacDonald, 2018. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Kids fascinated by boats and the sea will find lots to love in Margaret Read MacDonald’s rollicking ocean adventure. From the time he’s welded and riveted in the shipyard, Tough Tug has a can-do attitude that little ones will appreciate. He loves his color, his name, and his special abilities. Although his skills need practice and are a bit haphazard at first, just like children, Tough Tug learns to do his job well and puts games aside when he’s needed most. As Tough Tug rescues Arctic Tug, readers will cheer his bravery and perseverance. MacDonald’s straightforward text and first-person dialog from Tough Tug emphasizes the little boat’s self-confidence, willingness to learn, and readiness to help, making him a positive role-model for kids. Three-word action phrases sprinkled throughout describe the motions and duties of tugboats.


Rob McClurkan knows that kids love to see how things work and starts the story with a sneak peek into the process of building a tug. In the shipyard, workers—tiny in comparison to Tough Tug—rivet and weld metal plates over an iron framework. In the next spread, Tough Tug is painted, and with a flip of the page, he is launched from a ramp into the sea. McClurken’s cartoon tugs—the older ones sporting mustaches—have expressive faces that register their happiness, fear, annoyance, and acceptance in ways that children will understand and which offer opportunities for discussion. The dark storm that whips the sea into high waves provides just the right amount of suspenseful peril, and as Tough Tug is accepted into the group of older, more experienced tugs, the storm abates and the sun comes out to shine.

Tough Tug would be a welcome book for young readers navigating new places or experiences and for those excited by boats and vehicles at home and in classrooms.

Ages 3 – 7

Two Lions, 2018 | ISBN 978-1503950986

Two Lions sent me a copy of Tough Tug to check out. All opinions are my own.

Discover more about Margaret Read MacDonald and her many books on her website.

To learn more about Rob McClurkan, his books and his art, visit his website.

Run and Race to watch this Tough Tug book trailer!

Read Across America Day Activity


Tugs to the Rescue! Matching Puzzle


The ships below need pulling to their destination. Can you match each tug to its ship in this printable Tugs to the Rescue! Matching Puzzle?


Picture Book Review