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Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat
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Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat

3.57  ·  Rating Details  ·  392 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
When Jonathan loses his best friend, a stuffed bear named Frederick, he sets sail on the Big Blue Boat to find him. Along the way he assembles a ragtag crew, including a mountain goat, a lonely circus elephant, and even a friendly whale. Adventure and intrigue (and pirates!) follow.

This title has Common Core connections.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by Roaring Brook Press
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Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnellI Want My Hat Back by Jon KlassenGrandpa Green by Lane SmithPerfect Square by Michael  HallBlackout by John Rocco
2012 Mock Caldecott
20th out of 85 books — 188 voters
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. SteadA Home for Bird by Philip C. SteadBear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. SteadHello, My Name is Ruby by Philip C. SteadJonathan and the Big Blue Boat by Philip C. Stead
Best of Philip C. Stead
5th out of 11 books — 2 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 591)
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Sep 01, 2011 Elisabeth rated it it was amazing
I may be letting my admiration for "A Sick Day for Amos McGee" bleed into reviewing this one - but I do love this book. He is fanciful but matter of fact. He doesn't need to explain HOW or really even WHY a big blue boat sails on a whale (or how animals ride on a bus to visit Amos McGee). It just happens. For some reason I had flashes of Roald Dahl while reading this. Maybe it was the fact that a child has a whimsical adventure and makes the decisions without much adult influence. Collage is one ...more
Dec 15, 2011 David rated it it was ok
Shelves: picturebooks, fantasy
While I loved A Sick Day for Amos McGee, and admire some of the art in Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat by Philip C. Stead, I just didn't get into this fantasy story. In fact, parts of the story really got my goat, not the goat in this story mind you, nor do I actually own a goat, but just as a figure of speech - as in annoyed. First a story and illustration recap:

The story follows a young boy, whose parents trade his teddy bear for a toaster, and his quest to recover his beloved bear.

When Jonath
Aug 07, 2011 Kristin rated it really liked it
Having viewed the trailer (over and over), for which Mr. Stead also composed the music, I so wanted to fall in love with this story. I laughed out loud over the item bartered for, enjoyed the clever ways the animals participate in this cumulative tale, but overall I didn't connect as much as I'd hoped. That said, the art is some of the best I've seen. Brilliant, vibrant, detailed, and whimsical, it demonstrates the creator's passion for all things nautical. All in all, I loved this story enough ...more
Allison Parker
Dec 09, 2011 Allison Parker rated it it was amazing
Let your preconceptions set sail before embarking on this voyage of a book. In Jonathan’s world, a tugboat captain has no problem assisting a little boy in setting off on a great ocean liner in search of a lost friend, and parents don’t think twice about trading their child’s beloved teddy bear for a toaster. “Toasters really are useful,” they explain. And so Jonathan has no choice but to retrieve his dear teddy named Frederick on the great blue bloat that sits in the harbor, and to collect alon ...more
I am so weird. Why do I dislike Itsy Mitsy Runs Away but love this one? They both have wacky premises and perverse parents.

BUT. I think the writing in Big Blue Boat is much stronger, more lyrical, with better rhythm and repetitive structure.

And Jonathan leaves those perverse parents far behind and is his own agent and solves his own problems with the help of his new companions, and finally, yes, finds Frederick (Mitsy never DOES really run away, does she?) in the arms of a girl who is HER own
Michelle McBeth
SUMMARY:Jonathan loves his teddy bear, Frederick very much. They loved to go look at the large blue ship at the wharf. But one day, Jonathan finds out that his parents traded Frederick for a toaster. Frederick sets out alone on the big blue ship in search of Frederick. Along the way he meets animals who are happy to join him on his quest to find Frederick.

ILLUSTRATIONS: The illustrations were created with a mix of collage and acrylic paint. Although they are highly interesting, they are also ver
Jun 13, 2015 Matthew rated it really liked it
All for a favorite stuffed animal. That's what this all comes down to. Jonathan's parents trade his stuffed bear for a toaster because they think he's too old for bears, but just right for the joy of toasters. Thank heavens, Jonathan disagrees and sets off to find his bear. He commandeers a blue ocean liner and sails off into the bright blue ocean to find what was taken from him. It's not easy to find his bear friend, and it takes a few missteps before he finally discovers his way, but he makes ...more
This picture book was highly recommended by Josh Funk, and what a treat it is! This fun adventure tells the story of a little boy whose parents traded his beloved stuffed bear, Frederick, for a toaster because he was too old for stuffed animals. Heartbroken and determined to find his friend, he climbs aboard the Big Blue Boat and sets off on an ocean voyage to search the world for him. The story is so imaginative and whimsical, it'll be awesome to share with students. Along the way, the boy make ...more
Feb 16, 2015 Jess rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture-books, z_15
Man I don't get this book. Kid's parents are awful, trading his bear for a toaster because it's useful then Jonathan runs away to find the bear, steals (?) a boat after getting a ride from a tugboat guy who's like "I'm sad because I don't use my tug boat anymore." Then there's a bunch of strange interactions with things and animals and at one point they're all just on this giant boat sitting on a whale.

SPOILER ALERT - He finds the bear and the girl who owns him now and they just decide to get ba
Alexandria Hiam
Mar 18, 2016 Alexandria Hiam rated it really liked it
Beautiful picture book by author of A Sick Day for Amos McGee (done as a husband wife team). This time Philip C. Stead authored and illustrated the book. collage work with maps and ticks, ledgers make up the texture of objects, filled in with paint and ink. Jonathan's parents trade in his favorite stuffed animal, Frederick, for a toaster. As Jonathan takes a magical journey looking for his beloved Frederick, he forms a rag tag team of friends. The eventually find his Frederick in a pawn shop, cl ...more
Nov 03, 2011 Caren rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture-books
Too many different art mediums used, so it feels a bit muddy to me. Wouldn't give it my vote.
Jul 08, 2011 Boni rated it liked it
The art is FANTASTIC, but the text didn't quite live up to the art for me.
Amy Forrester
Mar 18, 2012 Amy Forrester rated it it was amazing
Each day Jonathan and his best friend, Frederick, a stuffed bear, walk down to the wharf and gaze up at the Big Blue Boat. But one day Jonathan’s parents decide he’s too old for stuffed animals and trade Frederick for a toaster. Heartbroken, Jonathan walks to the wharf alone. There he decides to search the world for his friend sailing on the Big Blue Boat. In his search Jonathan runs into trouble, but he makes new friends (a goat, an elephant, and a whale) that help the boat stay afloat. Finally ...more
Dec 10, 2013 Linda rated it really liked it
Philip Stead has authored and illustrated this book of a boy's search for his teddy bear, his best friend, Frederick. Jonathan's parents have traded the bear in for a toaster when they think he has, or should have, outgrown the need for a stuffed animal. Jonathan sets off to find Frederick, ending up on this big blue boat sailing the ocean blue. Jonathan gathers new friends as he travels, each one solving a mishap. They bring aboard aspects of life that Jonathan needs such as friendship, caring, ...more
Kristin McIlhagga
Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat is an entertaining cumulative tale about a boy's adventures searching for his beloved bear Frederick. For me, the illustrations really made the difference in pulling me into the story. Author Philip Stead and his wife Rebecca became widely known for A Sick Day for Amos McGee when it won the Caldecott Medal for illustration in 2011. This book shows that the illustrations talents are not limited to Rebecca - the use of collage and beautiful water colors are absolutel ...more
Angie Quantrell
Jun 30, 2016 Angie Quantrell rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Fabulous illustrations! A young boy's parents have decided he is too old for his favorite toy bear, so they trade it for a toaster. Jonathan is devastated. One day, he has a fantastic idea. The boy travels on a big blue boat as he searches for his bear. He makes several interesting stops. At each stop, Jonathan picks up a new passenger, and together, they all sail on the big blue boat. Finally, Jonathan picks up the most treasured passenger, and all of them go sailing on the sea.
Nov 06, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s, 2011, picture
I almost really loved this book. Jonathan's parents trade his beloved stuffed bear, Frederick, for a toaster. Jonathan takes the Big Blue Boat to search for Frederick and along the way, meets a cast of characters who join him on the ship. I loved the cumulative part of the story and the repetition in Jonathan's adventure.

The tone has a calm, soothing quality that I think makes the perfect bedtime story. The story is a bit slow to start; Jonathan's parents are presented briefly as mean, uncaring
When Jonathan's parents trade his teddy bear Frederick for a toaster, Jonathan sails the big blue boat out to sea in search of his friend. He picks up passengers and makes new friends along the way, including an elephant who is too old for the circus, but is valued as an "experienced traveler" and a whale who rescues the boat after it is attacked by pirates by swimming with it on his back. (Reminds me a bit of John Burningham's Mr. Gumpy.) Stead's illustrations are a highlight -- his children an ...more
The story is not as strong as Stead's A Home for Bird or A Sick Day for Amos McGee, and at times it felt a little fractured. In fact, two or three times I flipped the pages back to see if I had accidentally skipped a previous page, that's how much there seemed to be holes in the story. It is nonetheless a very memorable book, and the collage illustrations help set it apart. This is why I finally liked it very much.
Debby Baumgartner
Jan 21, 2016 Debby Baumgartner rated it liked it
Shelves: bears, boats, teddy
Philip Stead author of A sick day for Amos McGee writes a story of a boy whose parents trade his teddy for a toaster. The young boy goes in search of his teddy with the help of characters he meets along the way. Illustrations are also done by Stead. His illustrations reflect his love of stamps as a child.
Apr 13, 2016 Matthew rated it it was amazing
The art in this book was great, I loved the use of mixed media. That really made it enjoyable to see what kinds of items were used to makeup the collages on each page. I also enjoyed the story, but definitely loved the illustrations!
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jonathan’s parents trade his teddy bear for a toaster, so Jonathan must set off on a journey alone on a Big Blue Boat to find Frederick. Along the way, he befriends a mountain goat, a circus elephant, and a whale.

A slyly humorous story.

“’Hello,’ said Jonathan to a mountain goat. ‘I’m looking for a bear named Frederick.’

The goat was startled. He had never met a sea captain before.

‘I’ve never met a bear before,’ said the goat, ‘but someday I would like to.’

Jonathan looked up. ‘I could use a first
Kacie Kirk
Apr 19, 2015 Kacie Kirk rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-lit
I really enjoyed this book and thought that the pictures throughout this book were spectacular. You can tell that the illustrator used real life things such as a map, and other materials to create the boat and the world around it which was really cool. This book allows children to go into another world and dip more into their imagination as he goes from place to place looking for his bear. He does end up sharing his bear with the girl that found it which I think was very noble of him.
May 10, 2014 Teresa rated it liked it
As much as I'm in love with A Home For Bird, I'm meh about this book. I do like the collage art and the idea that one could trade a functional toaster for a bear makes me giggle but the rest of it, not so much.
Suburban Homeschooler
Jun 23, 2014 Suburban Homeschooler rated it it was ok
Shelves: children
Repetitive and additive structure. Liked the art, but dislike the story starting with parents that would secretly trade away a child's precious possession. Why?
Collage and acrylic illustrations rely on images from the author/illustrator's personal collection of stamps of boats and ships, combining for intricate, layered pages. After Jonathan's parents trade his beloved stuffed bear for a toaster, he determinedly embarks on a quest to find his friend. Along the way, be picks up many other friends and has interesting adventures. His loyalty toward his stuffed companion touched me. I liked the language in the book and the illustrations, but I couldn't get ...more
Joan Marie
Jan 26, 2016 Joan Marie rated it really liked it
A little boy goes on a search to find his long, lost bear, Frederick. On his journey her finds three friends and his bear.
Jan 17, 2012 Christina rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Philip C. Stead's "Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat", is a story about a little boy who loses his teddy-bear, and best friend. Jonathan then goes on a trip across seas to find his best friend. Along the Jonathan comes across other animals, and learns that he can have more than one best friend. I really liked this book because it talked about friendship, and how friendship comes in all shapes, sizes, and times. The illustrations in this book were very unique. They are done in a collage/watercolor f ...more
Jul 06, 2016 Steph rated it really liked it
The story is cute-ish but the illustrations are sooooo cool that I bumped up my rating. :-)
Ashlee Draper Galyean
Aug 27, 2015 Ashlee Draper Galyean rated it really liked it
A bear for a toaster?! Outrageous. But cute. I always love his illustrations.
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“You're getting too old for a stuffed animal. So we traded your bear for a toaster.” 3 likes
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