Review of The Old Boat

The Old Boat
by Jarrett Pumphrey and Jerome Pumphrey; illus. by the authors
Primary    Norton    56 pp.    g
3/21    978-1-324-00517-9    $17.95
e-book ed.  978-1-324-00518-6    $17.48

As they did in The Old Truck (rev. 3/20), the brothers Pumphrey find themes of persistence, family, and renewal in the life cycle of a treasured conveyance, in this case a jaunty little green boat. A parent and child go fishing, a day trip that comes to encompass years as the two travel into deeper waters and grow older before our eyes in successive page-turns, leaving the now-grown boy alone at the tiller mid-ocean until returning, Crusoe-like, home to his small island. There, with the help of what we presume to be family and friends, he begins to clean up the ocean detritus we have watched accumulating on his voyage, with the old boat itself, now faded with age, repurposed as an artificial reef off the shore where the boy, now old, is once again fishing with a child. Somewhat ponderous and more abstract than The Old Truck, the book pins the boat to the same spot on almost every spread, allowing the passing time and scene to move around it, providing a strong — anchoring — image of resilience.

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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