Saturday 26 March 2022

A Big Blue Boat

A Big Blue Boat by Susea Spray, illustrated by Lesley Cybulka (Spray Publications) PB RRP $17.32 ISBN9780645224009

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This picture book is based on Gratis, the sailing yacht that its author and her husband sailed from Adelaide to Europe (see blog page It is dedicated to ‘little girls who want to sail.’ The story begins with a close-up of the blue boat with ‘billowing sales’ and ‘a towering mast that touches the sky’ and proceeds, with rollicking rhythmic, repetitive sentences that describe aspects of the boat (such as wheel, rudder, anchor and ‘a (girl) captain as brave as brave can be.’) It then segues with the boat moving into a bay ‘where shimmering dolphins jive and dive’, and sails into a ‘shore on the rollicking, frolicking sea.’ Once the boat is anchored, the captain ‘nods off to sleep in her cosy soft bed,’ dreaming of the boat.

The poetic and repetitive prose of this cumulative picture book is ideal for reading aloud. It is illustrated by bold, strong pictures which are painted in full, bright colours. At the end of the book is a double page spread with a glossary for words such as ‘rudder,’ ‘wheel’, ‘anchor,’ etc. On the final double-page is a black and white line illustration, ideal for the reader to colour in with pencils, texta, or paint.

One suspects that a child aged from 4+ years will enjoy having the story read aloud to them, while they follow the illustrations of Gratis which is depicted from numerous perspectives.

A Big Blue Boat is available from Amazon.

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